Swimsuit season is upon us, and with it, advertisements promising speedy weight loss results are popping up like McDonalds on steroids. I detest this time of year, not for bikini season, but for the fad diets and pills that come with it.
Let me put it in layman’s terms. There is not a shortcut for long-term weight loss. Losing weight and adopting/maintaining a healthy lifestyle is hard work. It’s a lifestyle change, not a magic potion. Each year, I see countless numbers of people sucked into gimmicks, especially women seeking to become part of the status quo.
Toss the word “diet” out of your vocabulary. Cross it out of the dictionary. Fine yourself $1 every time you use it. If you are truly seeking to lose weight, do it the healthy and safe way. Make a change for the future. Make it for yourself…not a spandex-woven, polyester bikini.
Here are 5 simple guidelines to making a long-term lifestyle change.
- Commitment/Motivation. I believe the number one prerequisite for successfully losing weight, keeping it off, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is commitment and motivation. You have to truly want it, not just a little bit, not a lot, but with all of your heart and all of your soul. You must stay committed to becoming a better you, to your future.
What motivates you? Choose a long-term motivation. Getting into that wedding dress or showing off at a reunion are short-term motivators. What is it that motivates you to keep going when the going gets tough, when you plateau? Is it seeing the birth of your grandchildren? Is it snorkeling off the Gulf of Mexico at 70? Is it spending the rest of your life with your loved ones? Still looking for some motivation? Check out the Brooks blog for inspirational stories!
Mami’s mojo, her little man. :)
2. Nutrition. When trying to lose weight, people assume that if they increase their physical activity, they’ll magically lose weight. In the beginning, yes, you will lose weight; however, the weight loss is short-lived. However, being committed to changing your lifestyle encompasses more than just one component. You have to address nutrition, among other lifestyle-changing aspects.
- fruits and vegetables. I tell my clients that vegetables should make up 50% of their dinner plates, and they should strive to eat the rainbow. This means trading out easy staples like black beans and green peas. Experiment, and have fun! I’m not a culinary chef by any stretch of the imagination and am often pressed for time. Roasting bags, crock pots, casseroles and the grill are my best friends.
- Red meats. You’ve heard it a hundred times, so let this be 101. Red meats lead to higher risks of heart disease and strokes. It’s one of those sneaky, silent killers that strike later in the game. Choose cuts of chicken breast and tenderloin, ground turkey, and low-mercury fish (flounder, salmon, tilapia, whitefish).
- Carb loading to the extreme. Americans eat far too many carbs. We enjoy our mashed potatoes, white breads and rice, and mac and cheese. An easy gauge is to check to make sure that carbs make up no more than 1/4th of your plate.
- Substitute. Make substitutions for your favorite foods. Love butter? Add greek yogurt to recipes instead. Use avocado as a spread for sandwiches. Skim or 1% milk instead of whole. Low-calorie, high fiber, 100% wheat bread instead of white bread.
- Snacks. Limit snacks to items of nutritional value: fruits, vege sticks/slices, and yogurt.
3. Hydration. There has been debate over recent years on the amount of daily water intake. Some experts say we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Others say it should be more. Still others say 6. Although the actual number may be different from person to person, depending on their needs and activity level, 8 glasses a day is still a good guideline to follow. I do not count water found in cucumbers, grapes, etc. as part of my 8 glasses nor do I count drinks, such as coffee, juice or tea with cream. Another rule of thumb is to follow your thirst. Hunger can sometimes be your body’s way of telling you to drink water, so always drink water before reaching for a snack.
One thing I do throughout the day is make sure to drink approximately 8 oz. of water every hour. I also drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and another on my way to work, as a way to ensure that I am getting enough water.
4. Exercise. Get movin’! That’s really all that needs to be said. Find an activity you enjoy that gets your heart pumping, whether it’s swimming, zumba, running, cycling, workout videos, etc. Choose something you like, and stick with it. Without commitment and motivation, you won’t maintain lasting results.
Sometimes I hear, “I don’t have the money.” “I don’t like working out by myself.” Exercise does not have to cost money. You do not need a gym membership. Are memberships nice to have? Yes, but they’re not necessities or requirements. I have not had a membership for almost 2 years, mainly because our family finances do not allow for it. You can work out in the comfort of your home, find a local park or hit the trails.
If you’re more of a social creature and prefer to exercise in groups, check out meetup.com. Meetup.com has activities for almost everyone, most of which are F-R-E-E. The ones that do charge, charge a nominal fee once a year, $1-$3, which goes to maintain the cost of the group, as it costs approximately $140 a year to stay on meetup.
holiday group run
5. Walk, then run. Rome wasn’t built in a day neither was the Eiffel Tower, so why expect it of yourself? When giving advice, I always recommend that people build on baby steps. Most people do complete 180s when trying to lose weight. Majority of these folks won’t sustain the effort in the long haul. Pick 1 or 2 things to start with and stick with it for at least a week, though I prefer two weeks for longevity’s sake. Then, add another lifestyle change, and follow in the same manner.
Throw away the pill bottles with unrecognizable ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it that speaks volumes of itself. Make a commitment to yourself to become a better you. Not for one day, one month or for a year; but for a lifetime. You owe it to yourself. YOU deserve more!