Most people know the generally accepted principles of weight loss: eat less and move more. The problem is sticking to the program over the long term. Although people typically lose 5-10 percent of their weight when dieting, most end up putting the weight back on. It’s clear that willpower alone isn’t enough to get results, but with a few small tweaks to your program, you can increase your odds of success. Read on to find out how.
Find Exercise You Enjoy
The National Weight Control Registry is a research project at Brown Medical School. It holds data on over 10,000 people who lost 30 lbs or more and kept this weight off for at least a year. Of these successful dieters, 90 percent exercise for one hour or more per day. If you think of exercise as a difficult physical task that you have absolutely no interest in doing, then one hour a day is a lot. But exercise doesn’t have to be this way. Find something physical that you actually enjoy. You could take a swing-dancing class, go hiking in nature, learn Kung Fu, or play golf. In fact, the most common form of exercise among these 10,000 people was plain old walking.
Set Up a Home Gym
If you’d prefer to exercise by yourself, you can set up your own home gym. For strength training, you could get some some dumbbells or resistance bands, and for aerobic fitness, the ideal solution is to get some equipment like a stationary bike or a punching bag. However, if you’re on a budget, you could just get some exercise mats on which to jump rope or do body-weight exercises. There are plenty of YouTube channels showing 10- or 20-minute workouts that require no equipment at all—just load one up and follow along. You will need to set a little space aside, though. Many people choose the garage or basement, as they can jump around without worrying about damaging the floor, and they can keep the equipment out of their living spaces.
Eat a Simple, Balanced Diet
- Eat these: vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, fresh fruit, nuts, fish, and poultry.
- Limit these: refined grains (e.g., bread, pasta, white rice), processed food, red meats, processed food, fast food, sugary drinks, and potatoes.
When you go shopping, only buy items from the “eat these” list and don’t keep anything in the “limit these” list in the house. It’s OK to eat food from this list occasionally, but when you do, buy only the single serving that you intend to eat. Likewise, you should only cook the amount of food that you intend to eat in any particular meal, to remove the temptation to get a second serving.
It’s fairly well-known that obesity increases the risk of mental health problems, but this might be a two-way street. According to the Canadian Obesity Network, people with a mental health condition such as schizophrenia, depression, or bipolar disorder have a two- to three-fold higher risk of developing obesity. This is thought to be due to increases in levels of certain hormones, such as cortisol, which can lead people to overeat. If you have or are worried that you may have a mental health condition, contact your doctor and discuss your concerns with them. They will refer you to specialists who know how to properly diagnose and treat the problems you are facing.
Fighting obesity is a difficult challenge, but you can make it a little easier on yourself. If you find a way to stay active while enjoying yourself, keep only healthy food in the house, and take care of your mental health, you’ll be increasing your odds significantly. Which area will you work on today?