I’ve broken it down into 4 simple strategies that work when applied in concert with one another. Many preventable diseases we see today are a result of excess weight and inactivity. Whatever your weight loss goals are just know that giving your body the gift of space to heal is most important. By losing weight, we give our bodies a chance to function at optimum capacity. The strategies below are inspired from my experience working with clients in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The DPP is an evidence-based lifestyle change program developed by the Centers for Disease Control to help people at risk for Type II Diabetes lose weight. The research shows that a modest drop in weight (5-7%) can decrease your risk by over 58% and up to 70% if you are over the age of 60! What an awesome opportunity…. we can avoid a disease simply by treating our bodies right~
Here are 4 keys to successfully losing weight and keeping it off:
Self monitoring + tracking
According to a plethora of weight loss research, the single most important behavior that leads to sustained weight loss is SELF-MONITORING. That’s right, keeping track and being aware of what you are eating. You can’t make informed decisions without the facts right? Building awareness is the first step in any behavior change. Take inventory of what you are feeding your body, is it quality food? How often are you eating out? Are you eating three meals a day? What are you eating for snacks? How often are you snacking? How much water do you drink?
1. Keep a food journal, write down everything you eat for a week or two. Don’t judge, just record. If you really want to lose weight, record the amount of calories and fat grams that are in your current food choices. You can use a free resource like My Fitness Pal App or Lose It App.
2. Record exactly what you are putting in your mouth, don’t cut corners! Count every piece of candy and every component of your meal. This may seem tedious at first but it is the single most important predictor of successful weight loss.
Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you! If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always got!
It can be confusing with all the food philosophies out there these days… Paleo, Low-Carb, Gluten-Free, Plant-Based., Sugar Detox, etc etc etc. It shouldn’t be this hard to eat healthy. So often in my work with my DPP clients I hear confusion, frustration and overwhelm when it comes to figuring out what to eat. Yes, there are lots of different philosophies but I’m going to keep it simple and tell you mine. I am a Health Coach and I focus on behaviors, giving specific dietary and nutrition information is out of my scope of practice. But I do think a few simple rules can help people navigate the confusing world of our current food system.
1. Eat real food. Stick to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, plant based proteins. Avoid anything processed or overly “messed” with whenever you can.
2. Watch out for hidden fat and sugar. In the DPP program we focus on counting Fat Grams because fat grams carry the highest calories per gram than carbs + proteins. I help my clients become “Fat Detectives” by reading labels + understanding where fat hides in our food. Red meats, cheeses, processed foods, salad dressings, cooking oils, nuts, yogurt + dairy products, candy and baked goods are all places that fat can hide. Imagine if you are trying to stick to 42 fat grams in a day, you can blow through your budget by eating a bag of peanut m+m’s (fat gram 18.5) for a snack. The American Heart Association suggests that healthy adults limit dietary fat to no more than 20 to 35 percent of total daily calories. You can figure out a good target Fat Gram for you here
3. Split your Plate. Try to focus on making half your plate fruits + veggies, a quarter grains and a quarter protein at every meal. Vegetables are PACKED with vitamins + nutrients and help our bodies function optimally. There are many vegetables that are high in protein and can replace animal based proteins.
Book recommendation: In Defense of Food or The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen
Physical activity is more important than ever. We live in an extremely sedentary culture. Preventable chronic diseases like Type II Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke are costing our country BILLIONS in health care. We know we can prevent these lifestyle diseases by healthy eating and exercising. I know from conversations with my clients in the DPP program that finding time to exercise can be challenging. The current recommendations for exercise is 150 min every week (30 min a day for 5 days a week). Finding time to exercise can be hard but it also CAN be done. It’s about prioritizing health. Small investments in time today will pay off big time in the future… you have the power to prevent disease in your body by treating it right. Here are some FAQ around exercise:
1. I don’t know what to do? There are SO many resources out there. First of all, when in doubt brisk walking is a great choice. Think about what you enjoy doing, is it biking, running, lifting weights, yoga, dance or hiking? Find something you enjoy doing. Look into the YMCA for access to free classes and swimming pools. Try a Barre Class or Yoga class. Sign up for a 5K race and try running!
- Kayla Itsines Beach Body Workouts (High intensity interval training workouts you can do at home with minimal equipment)
- Daily Burn workouts on Youtube (choose from a variety of home based workouts)
- YogaDownload.com Podcast (find free guided yoga classes that you can listen to at home or at the office)
- YMCA or gym membership
2. What counts as physical activity? Mowing your lawn or organizing your garage is hard work, but it doesnt count toward your exercise for the days. Your heart rate should be elevated to the point you are breaking a sweat and its hard to carry on a full conversation. The point of exercise is to get your heart beating and move fresh, oxygenated blood around your body.
3. I don’t have time, how can I fit it in? Many of us are busy. Way to busy for our own good. But we do have pockets of time to fit in some movement, try doing three 10 minute sessions of brisk walking or walking up and down stairs in your office. Wake up early before work and YouTube a home workout. Hit the gym on your way home from work. Schedule it like you would a meeting for work, non-negotiable time for you! Remember if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything!!!
Mind + body connection
Rapid weight loss and fad diets don’t work. Lasting weight loss is sustainable because it’s a lifestyle change. It requires rewiring our brain chemistry to support better habits, routines and behaviors. Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. The mind body connection is so powerful. In our highly distracted and stressful world we are cut off from our deepest spiritual truth- we are perfect in the present moment. Paying attention to the present moment gets tossed aside because we are constantly planning for the future or living in the past. In the present moment we always have a choice. Mindfulness is a strategy to remain aware in the present moment.
Every choice is a chance to make a change.