Change Your Lifestyle, Stay Healthy, & Feel Great!
We all learn painful life-lessons during our youth. Unfortunately, it can often take a lifetime to truly sink in.
Today’s lesson: If something is too good to be true, it probably is.
This even applies to the realm of health and medicine. When I was asked to write a blog about weight loss, I thought, “That’s too bad, I don’t know any quick weight loss tricks that actually work.”
But maybe that is my miracle short-cut. Maybe that is the trick to saving everyone time, money, and frustration. Skip the shortcut.
Skip the miracle pills. Skip the crazy diets. Skip the extreme boot camp. Skip the promises of results you want as quickly as you want them. They sound too good to be true. That’s because they are.
I know how you can lose weight and, more importantly, I know how you can be healthier. Don’t worry, it’s not my “Thirty-day Hula-Hoop Challenge” or beet juice cocktail. I want you to change the way you think about achieving your health goals. I want you to try a new mindset.
Make changes in your life that you know you can maintain. A healthier lifestyle should not be a struggle; it should be a new life that you are comfortable with. The only wise changes are the ones you know you can stick to for years, decades, or the rest of your life. Any plan that is quick and temporary will give results that are just as quick and even more temporary.
Pick an exercise plan you know you can maintain. Make goals that are reasonable for your fitness level but leave room for progress. Know what the desired result is and plan for how you will maintain it when you get there. All your hard work now will mean nothing if it leaves you depleted and unable to continue your fitness regimen. Consider the long term effects that any fitness plan will have on your body. Be willing to give yourself variety and fun in your fitness. You will need to maintain mental endurance as well.
Diet may be even more important than exercise. Don’t punish yourself with an all-or-nothing attempt to shed a few pounds. Once again, any diet that allows you to lose weight should also be one you are willing to stick to forever. Don’t erase any major food groups from your diet. Studies have shown that removing carbohydrates, fat, or protein does not have a major effect on weight loss. Most data supports a well balanced, nutritious, reduced-calorie diet as the most effective way to control your weight.
Get in the habit of looking at nutritional information. Even if you don’t have a structured diet plan, being conscious of what is going into your body will help you make better decisions. Look at the nutrition label before you even check the price tag in the grocery store. Go online and look up the nutrition facts for your favorite restaurants. In addition to total calories, pay attention to saturated fat and sugar. These are the ingredients for heart disease and diabetes. Calories from saturated fat should make up a low percentage of your total calories (preferably less than 20%).
Living healthier is about making the little changes you are comfortable with. The more changes you make, the better your results will be (as long as you can maintain them). For example, I lost five pounds after I printed out my running schedule and put it on the wall, switched from the fried chicken to grilled at my favorite lunch spot (after seeing the fat content of each), and stir-fried my own dinners rather than buying the frozen brand. I also keep apples in the house for when I get hungry at night and eat cereal that has less sugar.
The most important thing is that these are your choices. Only you can decide what your goals are and what changes are realistic for your life. Start small. Realize how easy things are once they become habits rather than chores. Then you can make more changes. Remember, not all progress is measured on a scale. You can’t see what is going on inside of your body, but every healthy decision is improving your life down to the tiniest cell and molecule. The best time to start is right now. Go write down you health goals. Go look in your fridge. Go for a walk. Just go.