1. Exercise is essential for weight loss
It’s nothing new, but exercise is probably the most important predictor of whether you will succeed at long term weight loss and weight loss maintenance.
In order for exercise to be helpful in weight loss, you should strive for a minimum of five 30 minute sessions per week. The good news is that recent research has shown that three 10 minute sessions in a day are as good as one 30 minute session. This helps many in combating the old “no time for exercise” excuse. Be certain to find something you enjoy. You’ll be more apt to stick with it. Try walking with a friend, joining an intramural sports league, participating in outings with a group like The Sierra Club, or trying some classes at your local gym. Once you give exercise a chance, you will begin to enjoy its positive benefits on your psyche as well; you will literally become “hooked.”
Having trouble getting a workout in? Why not try one of these Diet Channel recommended programs:
2. Weight loss and weight training
We chose to list this separately from the “exercise” category because of the significant weight loss benefits attached to weight training in and of itself. The basic equation is this: the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you will burn. This is why world class weight lifters must eat thousands of calories a day to maintain their weight. Muscle is active tissue, fat is not. Thus, muscle “burns” a significant number of calories each day for its own maintenance. In her book Strong Women Stay Slim, Miriam Nelson, a Tufts University researcher, showed that a group of women who followed a weight loss diet and did weight training exercises lost 44% more fat than those who only followed the diet. While aerobic activity can help burn calories, muscle’s where it’s at when it comes to giving your metabolism a significant daily boost even at rest.
Read Cardio and Strength Training: How do you create a balanced routine? to find out how best to pursue numbers 1 and 2 above in tandem.
3. Keep a diary for triggers that hinder weight loss
Keeping a food diary can be a huge asset in successful weight loss. Devote some time each day to record what you have eaten and how much, your hunger level prior to eating, and any feelings or emotions present at the time. A food diary can provide a large amount of self-awareness. It can identify emotions and behaviors that trigger overeating, foster greater awareness of portion sizes, and help you discover your personal food triggers. Study any patterns that emerge from your food diary and identify where you may be able to make more healthful changes. A food diary provides an added benefit of keeping you focused on and committed to your goals. Start keeping a food diary today by printing our food diary.
4. Stay focused on being healthy, not on becoming thin
Many people become more successful at long term weight loss when their motivation changes from wanting to be thinner to wanting to be healthier. Change your mindset to think about selecting foods that will help your body’s health rather than worrying about foods that will affect your body’s weight. The Food Pyramid offers a basic outline of the types and amounts of food you should eat each day to give your body the nutrients it needs for optimal health.