One of the greatest joys in life – as simple as it may sound – is to try on a pair of jeans that are too big, and to have the sales lady go on the hunt for a smaller pair. If this joy has alluded you, it’s time to put a weight-loss plan into motion. Here is some helpful advice to guide you along the way to a new fitter figure.
Burn Baby Burn
In theory, the path to weight loss is simple. You just need to burn more calories than you consume, putting your body into a calorie “deficit.” You can go about this in a couple of different ways: A) by eating less, B) by exercising more, or C) by doing a combination of the two, which is of preferred. Just remember that “eating less” isn’t about switching to a lettuce diet or eating like a bird. It means being mindful of your portions so you aren’t feeding your body more calories than it needs (we’re talking 10 p.m. snack raids), which typically end up being stored as excess body fat.
Look Beyond the Numbers
So what kind of foods should you be eating to promote weight loss? Don’t be fooled into thinking that all calories are equal – for example, that eating 500 calories worth of white pasta is the same as eating 500 calories worth of lean, white chicken breast. While the chicken packs healthy protein and will keep you feeling full and satisfied for a while, the pasta lacks nutritional value and will have you craving a snack soon after.
As you start to exercise more (especially if you’re hitting the weights), you may notice feeling hungrier than usual. Go ahead and repair your hard-working muscles with healthy nutrition, but don’t use your workouts as an excuse to eat everything in sight. Remember, it’s all about expending more calories during exercise than you consume outside of the gym.
Bask in the Goodness of Carbs
Ok, so we just slammed white pasta, and now we’re praising carbohydrates. What’s the deal? If you happened to read this article, you’ll know that not all carbs should be demonized. In fact, the “good” ones (i.e. complex carbs) are an essential part of a well-balanced diet and can even help you lose weight.
We all have friends who’ve gone on extreme low-carb diets and lost a decent amount of weight at the start. You might have even been a bit jealous at first, wondering if you too should follow the same diet. But crazy low-carb diets just aren’t maintainable (they almost always lead to regaining the weight), and they certainly aren’t good for your system. Your body needs carbohydrates for brain function, energy, mood, and everyday survival.
Stay Energized & Satisfied
Want another reason to make friends with healthy carbs? When you don’t eat enough carbs (your body’s preferred energy source), you tend to feel tired and sluggish. And who wants to hit the gym when they feel like they’ve been hit by a MACK truck? These missed workouts can really put a dent in your weight-loss results. Meanwhile, your blood sugar levels can also take a hit. The lower they go, the hungrier and more irritable you may feel. This usually leads to greater food cravings … and not for the healthy stuff, either. In an effort to make up for those lost carbs, you may find yourself binging on high-sugar foods instead. Again, not the greatest choice for your weight-loss efforts. Do yourself a favor and snack on a complex carbohydrate with protein and a little healthy fat instead, and you’ll be good to go.
Enjoying life means living in the moment, but when it comes to weight loss, you should also focus on the future. According to a recent article in The Globe and Mail entitled, “How to Stick with a Decision to Change,” most people deviate from their goals because they are too focused on the now. As the article explains, “The science of behavioral economics suggests that most people in the moment of making behavioral choices don’t weigh the costs – nor calculate the benefits – of their decisions. Many focus on immediate happiness (such as what will make them feel good now), regardless of the long-term impact (such as overeating and gaining weight).”
What does that mean in plain English? While many people might say they want to lose weight, their actions don’t always reflect this. For example, when the waitress comes around to take their order, they suddenly switch from a spinach and tuna salad to a double-decker burger and fries. If this has happened to you, don’t worry. We all slip up from time to time. Just don’t let that one dietary detour take you completely off course. Instead, make a conscious effort to eat healthier the rest of your day so you can turn your results around and get back on track.
As humans, we’re all hardwired to want instant gratification. Recent consumer research shows that 40% of us will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. That’s right; three seconds. While we don’t expect to lose weight within seconds, we all hope for results to come sooner than later.
As you start your weight-loss journey, remember that different factors will affect how fast (or slow) you lose those stubborn pounds – such as your current weight, body type, and genetics. If you’re starting out on the heavy or obese side, the weight may come off faster than you expected, especially in the beginning. Conversely, if you’re already relatively fit and just want to take your body to the next level, you might find it tricky to get super lean. That’s because your body is doing its best to hold onto that last bit of fat. Generally, if you’re looking for a dramatic change, expect to commit to a healthy weight-loss program for at least two to three months. Many get-fit challenges are 12 weeks long, providing ample time to establish new, healthy habits and set the foundation for life-long wellness.
Embrace Your Body Type
Have you ever silently (or loudly) cursed your genetics for your body type? Are you hoping to zap away fat in that one particular area you’ve always struggled with? As great as spot reduction sounds, it’s about as feasible as bumping into a unicorn. When your body starts burning fat stores, it doesn’t just take from the body part you’re exercising – i.e. your legs if you’re doing lunges. Instead, it burns fat from your entire body. The only way to lose fat from a certain area is to lose fat overall, and that requires healthy eating and regular exercise.
The good news is that while you can’t spot reduce per say, you can use weight training to help re-shape your figure. For example, if you are a pear shape who tends to hold most of your weight in your hips and thighs, you can add more shoulder exercises (like shoulder presses and side lateral raises) to your routine to help “widen” your shoulders to align with your hips. The overall effect will be a more proportioned, hourglass-looking figure.
Regardless of your body type, aim to work some compound exercises into your routine. By using multiple muscle groups at once, compound exercises (like squats, lunches, and those shoulder presses we mentioned above) are beneficial for both fat loss and muscle tone.
Put these tips into place and that better shopping experience you’ve been dreaming of – smaller sizes included – may happen sooner than you think!
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.