We all face challenges in both our professional and personal lives, and yet one of the toughest often seems to be simply taking care of ourselves. There are of course any number of reasons that we gain weight, but by far the most common is simply that the weight creeps up on us before we even notice. It’s sneaky that way.
Life is, after all, distracting. As the years go by we have kids, mortgages, careers and all manner of family obligations, all of which can, if left unchecked, keep us from focusing on one of the most important priorities: ourselves.
For instance, I was very active when I was younger and played sports in high school and college. But as the years crept by I found myself juggling a career in food service and a busy family life with two young boys, and so before I knew it I’d turned 40 and weighed in at a very unpleasant 250 pounds. That birthday, however, turned out to be the wake up call and motivation I needed to reorganize my priorities and take charge of my life and my health. So, a couple of years later and sixty pounds lighter, I offer these 10 simple, clear-cut ways to get healthy, lose weight and keep it off.
One – Getting started:
First, think carefully about where you stand and have a clear picture of why you need to change your habits. As with any other major life change you need to step back and take stock of where you are and how you got there. Ask yourself the tough questions: Why did you let yourself go in the first place? Stress in your professional or personal life? Self esteem issues? Whatever the underlying reasons may be, they need to be addressed while you’re losing weight and getting healthy, otherwise it’s very likely that you’ll end up sabotaging all your hard work and gaining those pounds back. Dena McDowell, MS, RD, addresses this succinctly in her article Weight Loss and Psychology on https://www.webmd.com/diet.
Two – Don’t go on a “diet”… just eat properly:
That may sound overly simple, but you just have to remember that it’s not rocket science to learn how to adjust your diet. You need to make sure that you’re getting the right number of calories and variety of healthy foods to stay on track not only while you’re losing weight, but to manage your goal weight once you get there. There are many resources to help, but Freedieting.com is a particularly good one to start with that spells out the nuts and bolts of how to fulfill the dietary needs that are specific to you.
Three – The other big scary one: Exercise:
Although it sounds terribly cliché, always consult your physician before starting any exercise program, if only to be on the safe side. Once you’re cleared to go, make sure you start slow and easy for two reasons: the last thing you need is to set yourself back with an injury, but it’s just as important to not let yourself get emotionally overwhelmed in the beginning. So, you may want to start by stretching and walking, and once you feel ready, joining a gym is a not only a very effective way to burn those calories, but motivating as well. And the best part is that finding the right gym for your needs is as easy as going to GymTicket.com which is a simple, easy to use resource that provides, quite frankly, a surprisingly good listing of gyms near you.
Four- Get active in other ways as well. While going to a gym is an efficient way to get a great workout, it’s not going to be the whole answer. You also need to be active during the rest of the day as well. So, climb some stairs instead of taking the elevator, walk the neighborhood with a friend, get going on that list of chores around the house you’ve been putting off. Really, anything you can do to be up and around versus sitting on the couch will go a long way to not only burning more calories but improving your state of mind.
Five – Create a sustainable routine.
One of the most common reasons people fail at losing weight or any other life change is that it’s all too easy to fall back into the old, easy habits that got them there in the first place. Formalize a schedule for yourself by writing out your new habits and routine on a calendar. Exercise on these days, do other activities on those days, and so on. Once you see your routine in writing, it’s much easier to visualize yourself following through.
Six – Allow yourself some slack:
While these goals and strategies are simple enough once you find a routine that works, remember that we’re all still human and that some days will be better than others. So, you may want to build in some flexibility to your routine that will allow you to indulge in some of those foods or drinks that you miss. Pick one day a week, for instance, during which you allow yourself to have a couple of drinks and a few extra calories of that one food that you miss the most. You’ll feel better for it.
Seven- Grab a weight loss partner. Again, as with so many other things in life, the road ahead is less intimidating when you have company. So grab that friend or co-worker that can stand to lose a few pounds and bring them along for the ride. Ideally you’ll want to work out together and keep tabs on each other’s diets, but even if you can’t spend as much time together as you’d like it’s still empowering and motivating to know that somebody has your back, so to speak. You can even make it a friendly competition; few things motivate as much as a good bet.
Eight – Reward yourself with things other than food:
Remember that it’s very likely that not only was food an emotional crutch for you, but a way of self medicating to feel better. So, find other rewards that you’ll find compelling. Some pre-set slug time on the couch watching bad TV? Hiding under the covers with a book you haven’t gotten around to reading? Maybe just making the time to take a long weekend away with a loved one. Yeah, this one’s pretty personal, but you’ll figure it out.
Nine – Join a support group:
There are plenty out there, and they provide a comprehensive set of services that will give you the motivation and tools you’ll need to be as successful as you can be. Think of a group like this as room full of diet buddies. The best known, of course, is Weight Watchers. They are a particularly strong choice because they not only offer a comprehensive set of tools and strategies for losing weight and eating healthy, but their meetings are ubiquitous.
Ten – Be realistic about your goals and progress:
What this means, in short, is that your progress will most likely be slower than you would like. But, as long as you prepare yourself for the fact that reclaiming your life will likely be a year long journey, you’ll find that the benefits of how much better you feel are absolutely worth the time spent finding your way back.