Healthy Weight Loss

Healthy weight loss is simply losing weight at a pace and in a manner that encourages permanent loss and is not otherwise harmful to you. Losing more than 1 or 2 pounds a week is considered by most experts to not be healthy.

Not only are you less likely to maintain a healthy weight for life, but the means used to lose the weight, or simply the weight loss, taxes your body's systems. Additionally, healthy weight loss involves making lifestyle changes that you keep the rest of your life instead of temporary changes.

Fad diets, restrictive diets and get slim quick schemes may work for the short term but usually you simply gain back the weight and more when you go off the plan.

Why lose weight?

Being overweight can have serious physical health consequences: heart disease or stroke, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and sleep apnea are just some examples. It can also have negative emotional consequences: depression, anxiety and low self-esteem are some examples. If nothing else, do for your family. Children imitate real life and you're it.

What is the easiest way to lose weight?

There is no easy way to lose weight. All healthy weight loss takes effort and time. In order to lose any weight you have to consume fewer calories than you burn. A pound of fat is 3,500 calories. So, to lose one pound a week, for instance, you have to eat 500 fewer calories a day, or burn 500 more calories a day, than you do now.

Of course, the best way is a combination of the two. The key to losing weight is taking your time. Try to ignore commercials and other advertising for fad diets and get thin quick plans. Also ignore companies with prepared meals that you have to purchase, unless you know that you will eat them.

What foods can I eat?

Making good food choices is the best way to lose weight. Your body needs certain nutrients to function and it's best to get these from whole foods. If you don't eat enough whole foods, you probably need to take a daily multivitamin. Another aid in losing weight is to eat most of your calories in the morning and at lunch, leaving fewer calories for nighttime eating. Additional tips for healthy eating:

1. Eat 5 – 6 small meals/snacks a day.

2. Eat whole, fresh foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and dairy products.

3. Watch your portions. We have a tendency to supersize at home as well as the drive-thru. Read labels to see what a portion is and limit yourself to one portion for most foods, except fresh fruits and vegetables.

4. Always eat at the table, including snacks. Watching TV while eating has been shown to increase weight gain.

5. Chew your food thoroughly. This is often a hard one. Take the time to think about what you're doing and it will be easier.

6. Limit unhealthy foods, but don't cut them out completely. Deprivation is a big reason why most people stop diets. Sweets, breads, fried foods and red meat are all fine in moderation.

7. Put plans, goals and milestones in writing. Don't skip this one. It takes time, but in the end it will be worth it.

8. Set realistic goals and milestones. If you constantly miss goals because they are unreasonable, you will get frustrated and more than likely quit. A reasonable goal is 1 – 2 pounds per week, unrealistic is 20 pounds a month.

9. Limit red meat to 1 or 2 times a week. Red meat includes pork, beef and lamb.

Counting calories is up to you. If you watch what you eat and watch portions, you should be eating fewer calories automatically.

What about exercise?

While cutting calories and eating healthy will certainly help you lose weight, adding exercise multiplies the benefits. Or, if you exercise, you can eat more calories. Either way, exercise is an excellent habit to acquire for life. If you do nothing else, walk every day, or at least 3 times a week. Walk as long as you comfortably can and build on that. Your duration and speed will increase over time and enhance the benefits. For additional benefits like maintaining bone density, strength training should be considered.

Other hints for healthy weight loss success.

1. Keep a journal. If you don't already do this it's a great way to monitor your eating and exercise. It's hard to deny what's in black and white. Just be sure to include all foods, drinks, exercise, physical feeling, emotional attitudes and spiritual prayer or praise.

2. Use an accountability partner, or two. If this scares you, then do it!

3. Stop emotional eating. Find an alternative to eating when you're stressed, bored or anxious. Walking is a good option.

4. Drink water.

5. Sleep. Adults should get 7 – 9 hours a sleep a night.

6. Prepare meals at home and eat them at the table with the family.

7. Pray daily. Pray about everything and anything on your mind, including thanks for what you have.

Healthy weight loss is hard, there is no doubt about. But, a little planning and a lot of patience and you will be successful.