We live in such a funny society. We want to be fit yet we love our processed, snack, and fast foods. Instead of taking a walk after dinner, we sit around watching television every evening. (I’m talking about myself here!) Despite an obsession with weight loss and being thin, we easily revert back to the habits that are so ingrained in our culture.
Every family get-together, every holiday, every celebration is centered on food and drink–which is wonderful–but when the celebrations are over we’re left with a little party favor: a few extra lbs. on our hips.
At the beginning of every year, the diet industry pulls out all the stops, capitalizing on our resolve to lose the weight we put on the year before. Ads for diet pills, meal replacement shakes, artificial sweeteners, surgeries, and fad diets are everywhere, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.
The problem is, all of these “solutions” just make matters worse. We may lose weight quickly at first, but we often lose muscle at the same time, which means that once we go off the diet, the weight’s gained back as fat, leaving us in worse shape than we were before.
For permanent weight loss, look at the people who’ve successfully done it. You’ll probably notice they didn’t use diet pills, meal replacement shakes, or fad diets. Instead, they probably used some combination of the strategies in the following list.
Diet and Weight Loss: Let’s Do It Differently This Year
- Eat breakfast.
- Drink more water.
- Cook and eat at home.
- Eat whole foods that don’t come from a box, package, or can.
- Reduce stress.
- Get more sleep.
- Spend some time moving each day — even gentle stretching helps!
- Keep a journal of what you eat and how you feel each day.
- Include high-quality protein at every meal.
- Eat more vegetables.
- Reduce your intake of simple carbohydrates like white rice, pasta, and potatoes and replace them with sweet potatoes, beans, carrots, squash, fruits, and whole grains like quinoa.
- Replace hydrogenated and trans fats with healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado, nuts, and olive oil.
- Do a kitchen clean-out and get the unhealthy foods that tempt you out of your house. (Especially if they’re made with simple sugars and processed ingredients.)
Looking back through the years, I have to admit I’ve done some pretty crazy things for the sake of being thin. I’ve tried every diet under the sun, fasted, used weight loss pills and shakes, counted calories, counted carbs, counted fats, and exercised like a maniac. The end result of most of those strategies was that I gained the weight back as soon as I went back to eating like a sane person.
Thankfully, once I hit my forties, I started taking a different approach. I began eating real food, eating more food, and working out every day with strength training and yoga. I learned to enjoy cooking healthy meals from scratch, focused on reducing inflammation, and got to the point where my goal was simply to be as healthy as possible.
Finally, I figured out that if I give my body the gift of health, it gives me so much more in return. I may not be super-skinny, but I am back to the place I was as a child where I’m comfortable in my skin.
You can’t get away with once-every-January attention to your health. It has to be a daily thing. Aside from occasional indulgences, I try to live by the 80-20 principle-eating healthy 80% of the time and eating what I want 20% of the time.
Let’s love ourselves for who we are now and for the potential we have, both inner and outer, and always strive to live up to it.
Any thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!