As summer approaches, the concerns with weight and body image increase. The same happens with ads for weight loss methods and products. These often advertise fast and unrealistic results. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these products won’t provide lasting results and can lead to nutrient deficiency if promoting an unbalanced diet.
There are some basic rules to follow to make sure weight loss is achieved without compromising your health.
- Weight loss has implications in your health status
Abrupt weight fluctuation associated with unsuccessful diets can be more detrimental to your health than having excess weight. Don’t start this journey without proper motivation and support structure.
- Check your motivation
Weight loss requires daily and long-term adjustments. Make sure you have the motivation and tools to change your dietary and physical activity habits. Think about barriers you may come across with and how to overcome them.
- Move forward with professional help
Discuss it with a registered health professional before starting. Successful weight loss requires a personalized plan and careful follow-up by a specialist, for several months.
- Make it a family affair
Friends and family support is crucial for weight loss as it helps integrating healthy habits and avoiding relapse (e.g. having healthy foods for everyone at home and planning family hikes).
- Make a preliminary and detailed assessment of your eating and physical activity habits
The more you change your daily routine the harder it is to stick to a “diet” in the long run. Try to have small frequent meals throughout the day, don’t skip breakfast and plan ahead of special occasions.
- Be suspicious of miracle products and repetitive eating plans
Soup diets, fruit diets and other repetitive diets reduce the intake of essential nutrients and can jeopardize your health. Unfortunately, to date, no single nutrient or drug can, by itself, make you lose weight and keep it off in the long run, without any health risk.
- Increasing your physical activity is key
Your chances of losing weight successfully increase if you have physical activity support. Sometimes, the company of other people with the same goals is decisive. Start with at least 30 minutes per day (150 minutes per week) of physical activity and gradually increase it to 60 minutes per day (300 minutes per week) of moderate intensity aerobic activity, at least 5 days a week.
- Define realistic goals with the help of a health professional
Reject impossible targets. If you have excess weight, a gradual loss (0.5kg to 1kg per week) of 5 to 10% of your initial weight is a realistic goal and will have a positive impact on your health.
- Adjust your surroundings
Our environment is often our biggest obstacle to a healthy diet. An adequate hydration is essential – try to have water available throughout the day. Choose whole grain bread, whenever possible. If you’re throwing a children’s party, have fruit available in an appealing way. Avoid easy access to low nutritional value foods such as cakes, pastries, cookies and desserts.
- Be prepared and don’t get discouraged
Remember that, like any change to one’s dietary habits, it might take a while to reach your goals. You will experience moments of discouragement and moments of failure, when you might feel like giving up. Talk to your health professional and learn to deal with those feelings. At the end of this process, you will not only lose weight, but also improve your health status and learn to love your body.