It’s a normal human response for anyone desiring to lose weight to want to lose it quickly. Because “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” ie it probably took years for you to get to your current weight, don’t expect to lose it overnight! Evidence shows that people who gradually lose weight- about 1 to 2 pounds per week- are more successful at keeping the weight off. Healthy weight loss and maintenance of this loss, should be viewed as a journey rather than a destination. The process is an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in eating and exercise habits.
Successful weight loss is for the most part “about the calories”. It has 3 key components: 1) reducing caloric intake; 2) maximizing water consumption and possibly changing eating habits; and 3) increasing physical activity.
To lose weight, you can start by reducing your daily caloric intake by 500-1000 calories per day. Since one pound equals 3500 calories, this can result in the healthy goal of loss of 1-2 pounds per week. Modest weight loss of 5-10 percent of your total body weight can decrease your risk factors for chronic diseases related to obesity such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and arthritis. Maintenance of this modest weight loss can improve not only physical health, but also energy levels, physical mobility, general mood and self confidence.
Water Consumption and Eating Habits
In order to lose weight, your body’s metabolism requires significant amounts of water in order to function properly. If your initial goal is to lose weight, a general rule of thumb is to drink at least ½ your body’s weight in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should strive to drink 100 ounces of water daily in order to keep your metabolism going.
Certain eating habits may lead to weight gain. Examples include eating too fast, always clearing your plate, eating when you are not hungry, inconsistent eating patterns such as eating on the road if you travel for your job, and skipping meals (especially breakfast). When you skip meals, whenever you do eat, your body stores the calories as fat because it is not sure when it will be fed again. Just like water is essentially to jump start your body’s metabolism, breakfast is vitally important to jump start your day and the weight loss process.
When losing weight, more physical activity increases the number of calories your body burns off. This coupled with reduced caloric intake, creates a “calorie deficit” that results in weight loss. To maintain your weight loss, work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or an equal mixture of the two each week, usually at least 3 days per week total. In order to lose weight, you will need to do the same amount of activity but for 5-6 days per week. Moderate physical activity is anything you can do that increases your breathing and heart rate while still being able to carry on a conversation. Examples include walking briskly (a 15-minute mile); light yard work (raking/ bagging leaves or using a lawn mower); light snow shoveling; actively playing with children; and casual bike riding. Vigorous physical activity occurs when your heart rate is substantially increased and you are breathing too hard and fast to hold a conversation. These type activities include jogging/ running; swimming laps; cross-country skiing; competitive sports (football, basketball, or soccer); and jumping rope. Physical activity also helps to:
Reduce high blood pressure
Reduce blood sugar levels and thus better manage type 2 diabetes by reducing the need for synthetic medicines
Reduce the risk for heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer
Reduce disability associated with arthritis pain
Reduce falls risk associated with osteoporosis
Reduce anxiety and depression symptoms
Once you have lost weight, to continue on your wellness journey, it will be important to keep it off. Some good weight loss maintenance tips include: following healthy and realistic eating habits such as continuing to eat a diet lower in calories; eating breakfast every day; maintaining consistent eating patterns regardless of changes in your normal routine; staying active and staying on course by regularly monitoring your weight and relying on support from others such as friends and family or a partner who is also losing weight or maintaining a weight loss. By following each of the above recommendations, you are well on your way to wellness!