By Jackie Wicks PEERtrainer Founder
How To Get Started Losing Weight
Successful weight loss is hard work and takes time. Learning how to lose weight is the easy part, but the hard part is finding a solid reason to get started and then following through. It takes a sustained
physical and mental effort. And you will need all the support you can get.
Sticking to only one diet tends to not work for the long term, but substantial changes in
one's diet work very well and there are real and healthy diets that work. This article outlines proven advice on how to lose weight and keep it off long term.
A Healthy Diet That Works: Step 1
If you've been thinking about losing the last 10 pounds or the first 50 pounds, it's most likely been on your mind for a very long time. Why are you here reading this now? Did you have a scare at the doctor's office? Was it hard to run after your child today? Did you find yourself getting ready for work today and having every single pair of pants be too tight? Did you see yourself in a family picture? Are you dating someone who is healthier than you and it has inspired you? What is the real reason? Having that reason is the single most important part of your journey because your journey will get difficult. Very difficult.
You will be doing well for a week or two, but then the challenge sets in. Stress, family and work demands will set in. Someone will say something that offends you and it will knock you off your game. You will be at a friend's birthday party and everyone will be having food and cake and you'll want some too. If you have that reason, that core motivator of why you're doing this, it will be a powerful tool to help you get through the rough time and get back on track.
Write it Down and Have a Way to Measure Your Progress
Once you have the reason, take that reason and put it into a goal. Develop a weekly plan to stay accountable. Do you hate the scale? That's fine. Maybe one day you will make friends with it. In the meantime, find a different way to chart your progress. Maybe buy a measuring tape and take your measurements weekly. Maybe you have a pair of jeans that you can try on weekly. Find something that works for you, whether it's an old pair of jeans that you try on once a week, a measuring tape, a scale, your partners eyes, whatever it is and measure your progress.
It's important for you to see progress so that you'll have a reason to stick with your plan. You're not sprinting; you're running a marathon. If you don't see the miles tick off as you get closer to the finish line, how are you going to know that what you're doing is working? Logging your goals, your progress, and your daily habits will show you what is working and most importantly, give you the confidence to keep up your good work. Your first week on PEERtrainer is critical if you have never logged before. Once you develop the habit, other positive and healthy habits will start to happen.
A Real Diet That Works Requires A Support System
Support works. Who is around you daily? Are they supportive of your quest for a healthy lifestyle? Would it be better for them if you stayed 30 pounds heavier? Is your friend secretly happier that she's the thinner one who gets more attention? Is your husband secretly happy that you're overweight so he can hide from his own weight problem? This is a tough endeavor that is made tougher with people who don't support you, or people who want to support you but unconsciously make it harder for you. It's not realistic to leave your family or roommate or best friend if they aren't supportive of your weight loss efforts. But you can find people who will be supportive of your goals.
A Free, Online Diet Program That Works
PEERtrainer is an excellent place for support; you can be as anonymous as you want to be and you can find others who are just like you. They haven't heard it all before, and they aren't sick of hearing about your weight problem and they are inspired by you're determination to be healthy. Find groups that support your efforts and most importantly support the efforts of others in the groups.
Be helped but also be an inspiration. If a group stops working for you, don't use it as an excuse to quit. Find another group; it might help you even more than your last one. What you'll also find is that as you succeed, others succeed along with you. Even your friends will start to have a salad eventually as they see you persevere. If you're a mom, your children will develop healthy habits that they'll have for a lifetime.
Weight Watchers is another excellent place for support and they also have a revamped program they call Weight Watchers Momentum that now incorporates a very broad range of sound ideas. It works and also has a new focus on healthy foods. You can visit the Weight Watchers link to learn more about our take on their new efforts. We are very encouraged by what we see and more importantly hear from trusted third parties.
Take a baby step: Commit to one change, for only 7 days.
When people begin to focus on their weight loss efforts and their health, they often want to do a complete and immediate overhaul. They want to change everything. They want to switch from having fried and fast foods and a relatively sedentary lifestyle to only eating salads, fruits and vegetables, with running/strength training every day. Additionally, they decide that very day to commit to drinking 8 glasses of water a day, 8 hours of sleep along with taking a multivitamin along with 5 other personal goals, and only then, they feel like they're ready to get started. While those all might be good habits, this kind of thinking usually sets you up for failure.
Take on one challenge and start small. Maybe its something like, this week, I will not eat chocolate. Only commit to one thing. If other healthy habits start to take hold, wonderful but for now, only commit one challenge. This usually prevents being overwhelmed and subsequently, saying, I just can't do this. As you begin to master that challenge, write it down daily. Day 1, no chocolate! , Day 2, no chocolate. On day 5, you start to feel really good about your ability to make a positive habit happen and that gives you confidence to tackle the next step. Once you feel like you've mastered that challenge, then you can move on to the next one.
Don't Believe the Myth That You Can and Will Lose 2 pounds a week.
Losing 2 pounds per week, every week, is not the norm for everyone. I've seen people lose a pound a week and actually become disappointed, even if they haven't lost weight in 2 years. They are set on the expectation that they can lose 2 pounds a week and anything less becomes upsetting. Everybody is different and one sushi dinner can up the scale by 3 pounds.
Often times you'll lose a couple pounds one week, one pound the next week and sometimes you'll gain a pound the following week. What is important is the trend. You didn't gain the weight in a measured fashion of 2 pounds per week, you're most likely not going to lose it in the same way. Recognize the trend and chart your progress week to week to notice the overall loss. I've seen very successful weight loss efforts with diligent plans have an average loss of 5 pounds a month.
Question Everything You've Learned Up To This Point
Realize that you are different and your emotional triggers are different. Your success is highly dependent on how well you know your own triggers and habits and how well you respond and change your approach. No one source of information is the end all. It takes several tools, and those tools need to be customized to you for you to be successful. Be open to ideas.
Just because an idea goes against everything you've heard your whole life, doesn't mean it's wrong. It could be right. The more you question your current base set of knowledge, and the more you're open to the information being shared around you, the more chances you have being successful. After all, your current set of knowledge didn't take you to the successful place you want to be. Learn and listen to those around you.
Learn What a Portion Size Really Is.
Your stomach is about the size of your fist. Most plates of dinner served at a restaurant are twice, sometimes three times the size of this. Make it a buffet and you could be eating a portion that is 6 times the size of your stomach. An appetizer is usually a sensible portion size for your stomach. Use the palm of your hand to get a good sense of how much protein you should eat at any given meal. Make the rest of the plate full of vegetables.
When it comes to dessert, the three bite rule is unparalleled for satisfaction and portion control. If you want dessert, have three bites. There is no dessert that is forbidden, and you'll find that after the three bites, you're mindlessly eating. Once you try this a few times, you'll see how easy it is to maintain.
What Are The Healthiest Foods For Your Diet?
The basic deal is that the bulk of your diet should be fruits, vegetables, greens and beans. All the nutrients you need aren't in dairy, meat and processed bread. One of the reasons that people overeat is because of nutrient deficiency. The nutrient deficiency that is created by the lack of fruits and vegetables tells the body, "keep eating." I haven't gotten the nutrients I need yet. So you eat and you eat and you eat but the body still hasn't gotten what it needs. It's still looking for the nutrients only available in fruits and vegetables.
Did you know that a serving of beans (legumes) has the same amount of protein as a serving of meat? The calories are also the same, but the fat content of beans is negligible. The fiber content of beans is extremely high. Meat is the exact opposite. The most important part though, is that beans will fill you up even more so than a hamburger. Try it and you will be amazed. What if you don't like fruits and vegetables? Take out a pen and list all the vegetables you've heard of and we'll bet there are a few you like. Artichokes? Corn? Cucumber? You don't have to eat a different one a day. Find a few you like, and start to incorporate them in your diet.
You'll find, as time goes on and you get suggestions of ways to prepare them from others, you'll start to try different ones. Just get the habit formed with ones you like and your body will start to build up its nutrient reserves. Getting in the habit of eating a huge salad or two each day is a great way to make the bulk of your diet healthy and nutrient dense. If you make enough of a change in your diet, your body will start to respond very quickly. If you replace meat and dairy with healthy foods, you will lose weight quickly.
You hear it all the time, take the steps instead of the escalator. Park your car in the far lot. Take a walk to the other side of the office instead of sending an email. Studies show that you don't have to get the whole 30 minutes in at one time to enjoy the benefits of oxygen moving through your system. 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there adds up over the course of the day. If you're having trouble getting to the gym, commit to 5 minutes. Usually the tough part of working out is just getting there; once you're there, you'll usually finish your entire workout.
Don't like the gym because it's too expensive or inconvenient or you generally just feel self conscious about your body? It's extraordinary how many other options now exist. Fit TV has all day fitness programming that makes it as easy as turning on your TV and moving your coffee table to get 30 minutes in. Are you a stay at home mom? Now there are fitness classes that are designed for you and your baby; you can take them with you! What if you just don't like it, no matter what you've tried? There are plenty of things that you have to do in life that you don't like, but you have to do it anyway because of the result. Just commit to 5 minutes, just for the day and develop the habit. You actually might start to like it.
The Secret To Not Failing On A Healthy Diet: Don't Give Up!
The only way that you fail at losing weight - or anything in life - is by giving up. It's unfortunate when you watch someone give up because it's precisely at that point that they need to push through. It's easy to give up when you hit a plateau. It's easy to give up when you've had a bad weekend of eating and hanging out on the sofa. But what happens is devastating; all the work that you put in to lose 5 pounds, after you go off track takes weeks, sometimes months, just to get back to that original 5 pound loss. Plateaus don't mean it's time to give up; they mean its time to change your approach.
Overeating all weekend isn't a sign to bail; it's a sign to examine what situation brought about that trigger, to learn and figure out ways to cope next time. Every situation is a chance to learn how to cope and how to use those skills in other areas that are as important as your weight loss and your health. The last 5% of every journey is usually the hardest. Don't ever, ever, ever give up. Your family needs you. Your friends need you. You are too important to give up on. Re-read your reason for why you're doing this in the first place and just keep on going.
Real, Healthy Diets That Work
You have heard over and over that diets don't work. The traditional American idea of dieting is "portion control" or reducing your caloric intake. These approaches fail because you are only reducing portions of unhealthy and fatty foods. There are new diet approaches out there that seek to fundamentally change what you eat. These diets slash the amounts of saturated fats and sugar that you eat and radically increase the amount of plant-based foods. The Fat Smash Diet (by Dr Ian Smith) is one such popular approach, and Eat to Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman is another.
These approaches are not about lowering carbs, or getting more protein or counting Weight Watcher points. They about fundamentally restructuring your eating habits and these diets work. When you reorder your diet to eliminate processed foods, slash dairy and meat consumption and increase your intake of fruit, vegetables, beans, rice- you will lose weight and reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a host of other diseases. Improper nutrition is at the root of most diseases. Animal based foods contain cholesterol and boost the levels in your body. Plants do not contain any, and help reduce levels in your body. As blood cholesterol levels decrease, cancers of the liver, rectum, colon, male lung, female lung, breast, childhood leukemia, adult leukemia, childhood brain, stomach and esophagus levels will decrease. The more you reduce meat, dairy and processed foods in your diets, the healthier you will be.
Update- as of December 2008, Weight Watchers has started the process of revamping their approach to diet advice. We now feel comfortable adding Weight Watchers to this list because of their strong shift in the direction of a healthy diet where plant based foods are a priority, not just strict point counting. We are writing more about it here.
Do You Feel As If You Know All Of This, But Need Help Following Through?
At PEERtrainer, we understand the specific challenges people face in their quest to lose weight. You might be doing great on Weight Watchers for three weeks and then you are "ambushed" by a social event. Maybe you find yourself eating at night and know that is the one thing that trips you up. Or your friends and family might not have the same commitment to overall fitness and health, and you find your self constantly tripped up. In situations like these, you know exactly what you need to do, but you find yourself continually back at the same place.
PEERtrainer has put together The Point Of No Return Program to deal with situations like these, and help you develop the skills you need to get you to the "point of no return", where you feel empowered to deal with daily challenges. If you feel like you are not ready to start your weight loss journey, this program will help you get there. And if you are having a hard time sticking to the program or going to your meetings, this program will help.