Before you dive in I want you to know that I understand the difficulties that some people have with weight loss. There are medical conditions and genetics at play, but there are also lifestyle choices– choices that affect you and your children. This is a general guideline for those that know they can and want to do better. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 40% of adults and 19% of children are living with obesity in the United States (Hales, Carroll, Fryar, & Ogden, 2017). Nearly 100 million people wake up every day with a chronic disease that might be the result of misinformation or bad habits. If you are one of those people, I hope that these simple guidelines can help you take back control of your life.
I know, this one is so obvious. The food that you eat, especially the amount, affects your weight and health. There is so much contradictory information out there on what is “healthy” and what isn’t. Follow these guidelines for simplicity.
a. Stop drinking sugary drinks. Sugar is already in an inordinate amount of groceries that you buy. You don’t need to supplement with gobs of sugary goo. Pro tip: Carry around a bottle of water with you all day to sip on when thirsty.
b. Stop buying frozen dinners and fast food. I know there are some healthy options out there in the frozen section at the grocery store, but we both know that isn’t what I am talking about. Cut out the crap buy making your own food at home.
Pro tip: Always have a healthy snack that is quick and easy nearby. I keep a fruit bowl full at home. Other easy choices: frozen vegetable packets are a healthy side option and quick; chicken breasts, pork chops, fish, or steaks can be cooked in under twenty minutes. Just make sure you have healthy options. We often choose unhealthy foods because they seem easiest.
Get Better Sleep
Dude, why are you talking about sleep in a weight loss discussion? A lack of sleep affects our decision making by decreasing activity to the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that makes executive decisions. In other words, we are more likely to react impulsively when tired. If you are trying to put down the chips, sodas and other crappy foods, then a tired brain isn’t your greatest ally. Also, hormones are affected when sleep deprived. Cortisol can remain elevated, stress levels and gherlin increase, and weight gain becomes more probable (Guglielmo & Pannain, 2011). Essentially your body is in a stressed state, wants food, and it holds onto the fat that it has instead of burning it.
Pro tips: create and stick to a schedule; put the phone and computer away an hour before bed and read a book; stop the caffeine consumption at least 4 hours before sleep.
You might be thinking, “But if I exercise, then I will be more likely to consume more food and I’ll be exhausted.” If you are following my first two recommendations, then it wont matter. The body has a way of adapting to stress placed on it, but it needs the proper nutrition and rest to do so. Your body’s composition will start to change once it adapts, which is an important factor when discussing weight. Lean tissue will be more common, and the calories entering the body will be used before they are stored as fat. Follow these simple steps to begin an exercise program:
a. Set a SMART goal
b. Write your goal down and tell someone. You need some sort of accountability.
c. Hire a personal trainer, join a gym, or join a free exercise group.
Pro tip: if you don’t want to spend money, there are lots of exercise programs available online for free; however, if you have the means to do so, an investment into your health is never a bad idea. Exercise at least three times a week– just do something. Even a 15 minute walk is beneficial. Just move!
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Hales CM, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity among adults and
youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS data brief, no 288. Hyattsville, MD: National
Center for Health Statistics. 2017.
Beccuti, Guglielmo and Pannai, Silvana. Sleep and Obesity. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 14(4):402–412, JULY 2011. DOI: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283479109