You know there are no quick fixes when it comes to losing weight for the long term while also supporting your health. The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to focus on adding in healthy habits. A healthy lifestyle is not about being on a ‘diet’, it’s about learning how to nourish your body so you can thrive – not feel deprived. By making small changes you can live with, the better your chances are for success. This is also the best way to get off of the diet roller coaster for good.
I’m sharing 10 simple but effective strategies you can incorporate to help you on the road to living a healthier, happier, and more balanced life. Start with 1 or 2 habits at a time then build on those successes by adding 1 or 2 more. You can start with the simplest habit first and go from there if you like. Don’t get overwhelmed – just start with ONE thing. Write it down somewhere as a reminder.
Imagine if you were to incorporate even 1 new habit each month for a year – amazing things would happen!
- Get Enough Sleep
Let’s face it, when we’re tired we tend to make fewer healthy choices throughout the day and reach for the quick-fix energy boost we need, often in the form of sugar-filled options and processed snacks.
Lack of sleep disrupts circadian rhythms and can lead to inefficient body regulation of energy balance, metabolism and appetite. Abnormal leptin and ghrelin levels – hormones that tell your body it’s full – can go awry when your body isn’t fully rested.
To get more sleep, set a goal of what time you need to be in bed each night to get the 7-9 hours you need. Try it this week and see what difference you notice, both in how you feel and your appetite.
- REDUCE STRESS
Most of us are juggling way too much and going through the day at warp speed, trying to get more and more done. By having a high stress level, not only is it harmful to your health, it’s harmful to your waistline as well.
When you are constantly under stress, hormone levels, like cortisol and insulin are elevated. The elevation of these 2 hormones can sabotage your weight loss efforts and actually cause weight gain.
So, while you may think you can “handle it” as far as your stress level goes, we aren’t meant to be under constant stress and it takes its toll. If you are doing everything right as far as diet and exercise but you’re under stress every day, you’re not going to see or feel the results you want.
- DON’T SKIP MEALS
It’s common for people to think that when they skip a meal, they are ‘saving’ calories. What happens though is it backfires and by mid afternoon or early evening, they’re starving. Then they feel like they have no ‘will power’. Our body needs fuel in the form of food to function, so when it’s deprived, it screams out for what it needs – food! Willpower is no match and then they end up feeling guilty. Skipping meals sets you up for failure and feeling guilty.
Eat 3 meals a day. You’ll notice you get through the day with more energy and when you plan your meals out during the day, you can make healthier choices and will usually end up eating fewer calories day. It’s much easier to make unhealthy choices when you need to eat something now and you just grab the closest thing you can find.
- TRADE OUT YOUR BEVERAGE
A really easy way to improve your health and lose weight is to trade out your soda (regular or diet), flavoured coffee drinks or other calorie or artificially sweetened beverage. Studies show that even diet soda increases our appetite. So, while the drink itself may be zero calories, you end up eating more food to go along with it.
If you’re addicted to the caffeine, you may want to start out cutting your consumption in ½ for a week or so and see how you do. Decide what you can drink instead. You can try unsweetened iced tea, water with fresh fruit or unflavoured carbonated water with a splash of fruit juice if you just need some fizz in your drink.
By trading out your sugar or chemical-filled beverage for water you’re giving your body what it needs – proper hydration.
- EAT CARBS THAT FUEL YOUR BODY
Our body needs carbs, but just the right kind. Refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, cereal and processed snacks are lacking in nutrients and leave us hungry again a short time later. Complex carbohydrates from foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes contain fiber and nutrients that fuel us and help us feel full longer.
- CHOOSE HEALTHY FATS
FACT: Our body needs fat in order to function optimally. The body utilizes dietary fat for energy, healthy hair, skin and nails, vitamin absorption and normal, everyday bodily functions.
Good fats promote several health benefits such as protection against heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression, as well as reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Choose sources such as nuts, seeds, fish, avocados and extra virgin olive oil.
Another good source of healthy fat is coconut oil, which can be used for cooking and baking and it’s also great in smoothies. A little goes a long way, so don’t overdo it. Just include a little fat at each meal to help you stay satiated longer.
- FOCUS ON LEAN PROTEIN
Consuming enough protein is another way to improve your energy and stay satiated longer after your meal. Our bodies require protein for cell renewal, stabilizing our blood sugar, and providing us the energy we need. Many foods contain protein, but some of the best sources include: fish, chicken, turkey and eggs, as well as plant sources like seeds, nut and beans.
- GET MOVING
Exercise actually gives us energy! Think about how you feel after sitting around for hours versus how you feel when you’re up moving around. You just feel better when you’re active. You don’t have to spend countless hours at the gym to reap significant benefits from exercise. You can start with something simple like a 20-minute walk if you’re just getting back to an exercise routine.
Look at ways you can add more activity into your day – a short walk during lunch, another walk after work perhaps. If you have taken a long break from exercising, don’t set yourself up for disappointment – have realistic expectations and be okay with feeling like a beginner again. It’s okay – just start where you are right now and build on it.
- PREPARE MORE MEALS AT HOME
Cooking meals at home allows you to control the quality, calories, and portion sizes of your food. Do you notice how much food you’re served when you go to a restaurant? When we have more food in front of us, we’ll eat more without realizing it. Preparing meals at home saves money too. Plan your week out in advance and see which nights you can cook at home. The crock pot becomes my best friend on busy days. I look at my calendar for the week ahead and whichever days are hectic, those are crock pot nights.
- KEEP TRACK
Keeping track of what you eat can be pretty easy thanks to all the handy apps we have available at our fingertips. My favourite food tracking apps are MyFitnessPal and LoseIt. You’ll be surprised what you discover when you start tracking.
For tracking, you also want to track the nutrients (or lack of nutrients) in foods. Reading the nutrition label is key. Look for foods that have the shortest list of ingredients and those that you recognize. If it’s a long list of ingredients with words that are difficult to pronounce or you don’t know what they are, put it back on the shelf and look for something else.
START TODAY – Decide on 1 or 2 healthy habits to start with today. When you start making choices based on the answer to the question: “Is this going to feed my body what it truly needs?” on a regular basis, decisions shift, behaviors are changed, and you will feel much better.
I find that often, people want to live a healthier life, but they aren’t sure how to fit all the pieces together to make a plan or they don’t know where to begin. It can be quite overwhelming! Sometimes there may be other issues going on in the body that prevents you from losing weight.
In those instances, it’s great to have a knowledgeable advisor to explore and correct what is going on in your body that may be preventing your weight loss, or to walk you through a step‐by-step plan to implement healthier eating and lifestyle habits.
If you are struggling with trying to reach a healthy weight, contact me today to schedule your 30 minute free consultation to explore your options in achieving your health and fitness goals.
In health and happiness,
Marlisa Sucher, RHN, NNCP