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3 Tips for staying passionate during weight loss

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You can jettison healthy weight change and still have a good time.
Jettison healthy weight change and have fun on your journey! Image by Kerstin Zettmar.

3 Tips for staying passionate during weight loss

By Jessica McWhirt

Staying Passionate During Weight Loss

Deep down, we’re creatures of habit; however, knowing that our habits are making us unhealthy may be enough to jettison healthy weight change.

It’s difficult and challenging to drop fat. If you want it bad enough, though, there are ways to make changes. That being said, a lot of us are set in our routines, and change is hard.

If losing weight was easy, everyone would be doing it.

In high school, healthy eating and exercise weren’t on my radar. I didn’t care about them and thought it was for the birds. Then, I found cycling and fell in love with the sport. It completely changed my life. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been and I’m passionate about staying healthy. Yes, it does take time and yes, it does take commitment. But once you start seeing results, it’s hard not to get passionate about what’s making you feel great and powerful.

 

Weight Loss Struggles

A study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that 20% of overweight individuals succeed in long-term weight loss goals. The study pointed out a number of key factors in helping these individuals maintain weight loss, which includes engaging in high levels of physical activity for one hour each day, watching their food intake, eating breakfast regularly, weighing themselves regularly, and eating consistently throughout the week and weekends.

Another study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who successfully maintained long-term weight loss had a low intake of fat and a high level of physical activity. Further, this study suggests that the individuals lost weight and maintained their weight loss due to being part of a structured plan. Unfortunately, only 1-3% of individuals kept their weight off after five years of a structured program.

Both of these studies show that incorporating high levels of physical activity help individuals lose weight. Another important factor is having structure and a plan, which aids in weight loss. Finally, long-term weight loss may be difficult, but it isn’t impossible.

Why do people regain the weight they’ve lost? A lot of people have a “quick-fix” mindset, thinking that once they’ve lost the weight, they’re done. Weight loss and the maintenance of it require dedication and a long-term mindset.

Once you start to see the weight drop, you’ll be motivated to lose more and keep it off. Staying passionate about your health will contribute to your overall motivation.

Here are three tips to keep that fire going.

 

Tip #1: Increase movement in fun ways

A 2013 review outlined a number of benefits of physical activity—namely weight loss, improved cardiovascular fitness and decreased risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, ventricular dysfunction and cardiac arrhythmias.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes per week to maintain and improve health; 150-250 minutes per week to prevent weight gain; 225-420 minutes per week to promote “clinically significant weight loss;” and 200-300 minutes per week to maintain weight loss after weight gain. This can mean anywhere from 21 minutes per day to 70 minutes per day depending on your weight loss goals.

Find an activity you love and spend time challenging yourself. Image by JoAnna Schillaci.

Do what you’re passionate about

Exercise does not have to be punishment. It also doesn’t mean signing up at a gym with sweaty grunters in the background. Physical activity can be anything that raises your heart rate and gets you moving. When I was in high school, the idea of exercise felt like a punishment for what I ate, and I wasn’t the healthiest eater. This lasted until I jumped on a bike for the first time in a decade after college. I fell in love with riding my bike—something that I did when I was a kid—and now it’s my main form of physical activity.

To find an activity you’re passionate about, think back to when you were a child: What did you do for fun? Were you outside a lot running around? Did you like to dance? Did you play sports? Or now: what do you like to do for fun? Walking around the park? Playing with your dog?

Sticking with an activity that feels more like play than punishment will help you stay on track to your weight loss goals.

 

Tip #2: Eat Delicious and Nutritious Foods

One of the biggest factors in weight loss is nutrition. If you want to lose fat, you must watch what you eat (and not just watching the pizza go into your mouth). The best “diet” is the one you can stick with for a long time. Like I said earlier, there is no shortcut to weight loss. It’s a never-ending, yet valuable journey.

The diet you choose should not feel limiting or leave you starved. It should make you feel good. That kind of diet differs for everyone. While some people thrive off a keto diet, others thrive going vegetarian. Nutrition is a lifestyle choice—not one you choose for a year and then go back to your previous eating habits. Remember: your current eating habits are what got you where you are today. If you bring them back after losing weight, you’ll see the same effects as before: weight gain.

Eat Breakfast

One strategy to start incorporating today is eating breakfast—and no, not pancakes drizzled with syrup. High protein breakfasts have been shown to aid in weight loss and promote satiety. An article published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that a filling breakfast could keep snacking at bay and eating protein actually burns calories because of how the body breaks down protein.

Pick protein-rich foods, like eggs or Greek yogurt, that you enjoy so you look forward to eating breakfast. A common misperception of dieting is that it’s all just salads and meal replacement shakes. That’s not true. You can still lose weight by eating a variety of foods.

Nay for refined carbs

Another strategy to help with weight loss is cutting back on refined carbs like white bread, white pasta, crackers, cookies, bagels, cakes, and fruit juices. These foods are stripped of their nutritional content, namely fiber, which helps keep you full. A study conducted by the Department of Food Science and Nutrition shows that fiber intake inversely affects weight. Therefore, the more fiber you consume, the more it aids in weight loss. 

You don’t have to completely overhaul your diet when starting on this journey. Start slowly by replacing a single refined carb with food high in protein and/or fiber. Once you’ve made that a choice, do it again. When you start slowly and accomplish smaller goals (like having eggs instead of a donut for breakfast), you’ll gain momentum and continue to do it, thereby creating a habit. You’ll see the weight start to slide off and you’ll be motivated to keep replacing the old with new food.

 

Tip #3: Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

A study published by the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that weight loss participants were more successful if they had a partner who was also losing weight. Losing weight doesn’t have to be a solo effort. Find a support system within your circle of friends and family. Not only will they support you in your goals, but they’ll help keep you accountable, as well.

Support networks also offer you a group to share recipes with and tell stories of failure and success. Knowing there’s someone willing to listen to you overcome challenges gives us all relief knowing we don’t have to do this alone.

There is nothing like seeing Grandma and her asking if you’ve lost weight yet. On the other hand, Grandma may join you in your weight loss efforts. Now, that’s teamwork! You can make it a game with your friends and family if you’re competitive.

If the feeling of telling your friends and family you’re trying to lose weight gives you the heebie-jeebies, there are weight loss support groups online and probably in your city. You can hire a coach to help you and keep you accountable, as well. There are a ton of options to give you the support network you want.

 

Jettison healthy weight change

It’s totally in your power and capability to lose weight and be healthier–but you have to want it.  Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t. When you lose weight, you’re going to feel better outside and in. You’ll have more energy, less colds and allergies, and you’ll want to keep eating healthy and moving your body.

 

If you want to take steps in this direction and jettison healthy weight change, send Jessica an email to talk about your goals and how to get you there.

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