The average dieter spends years counting calories and worrying about what they should and shouldn’t eat. Some spend decades feeling bad about their bodies and have a difficult time keeping the weight off. But no part of living your best life should include poor body image and food obsessions. So, how can we change that?
Habits are everything!
We know that, for the most part, the body we have is the result of how we live, what we eat and how often we move. For most people then, the answer to losing and keeping the weight off is to change your habits.
You’ve probably seen a lot of content around the web giving you 10 tips to lose weight. I’m sure there is great advice in many of them but there’s such a thing as too much information. One of the drawbacks of those lists is that they can make a confusing topic even more so. I want to try a different approach today and give you just three changes to make.
Here are my favorite three nutritional tips for confused dieters to follow.
1. Put the focus on nutrition
When your goal is to lose 10, 20, 100 pounds, losing that set number of pounds IS your focus. Put the focus on nutrition instead and day by day, habit by habit, you’ll get healthier and leaner.
Eating nutritiously doesn’t mean you can NEVER have McDonald’s fries. What it means is that you rarely will think about McDonald’s fries because you associate them with lower nutrients and don’t want to be bothered. You will start to adopt healthy eating habits and start thinking like a nutritionist when you focus on nutrition. Your eating habits will begin to include food prep and trying out tasty sweet potato fries recipes as you learn to balance convenience, taste, and nutrition.
- 20% healthy naturally-sourced fats like the fats you get from extra virgin olive oil, avocado, salmon, and eggs.
- 40% lean proteins, including proteins from non-animal sources.
- 40% healthy carbs from grains and plant-based foods. Nix most bread and definitely white bread.
Use these nutrition tips:
- Learn to use herbs, spices, ethnic seasonings, and other tricks to make real food tasty and satisfying.
- Do what successful dieters have done and keep processed foods out of your kitchen. Out of sight out of mind.
- You’re going to snack so have several quick delicious and healthy treats like apple and almond butter handy.
- Follow nutritionists and healthy people on social media who you can relate to.
- Keep at it! When you slip up, don’t be hard on yourself. Just do better tomorrow.
- Learn your food triggers and plan for them. Common ones are loneliness, stress, skipping meals and not having nutritious foods on hand.
2. Time your meals right
Your body has an internal clock and when you work with it, everything, including your metabolism works better. Exactly what time you should eat isn’t clear or the same for everyone but this is what we know:
- Studies have shown that people who eat lunch after 3 p.m. found it harder to lose weight and those who don’t eat breakfast experience more food cravings.
- We know that a longer overnight fast increases fat loss because the body has time to reach a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when the body has used up stored carbs and starts using fat for energy instead.
- Weight loss experts recommend we eat some type of breakfast about an hour after getting up and have lunch about 3.5-4 hours later.
Here’s how I might put this all together. Eat breakfast around 8 am (I get up at 7), lunch at noon, a snack around 3 pm, and dinner at 7 pm. While that works fairly well for me, some of you may function better on 4-6 snack-sized meals instead of 3 meals a day. You would obviously eat your meals about 2.5 hours apart, at 8, 10:30, 1, 3:30, and so on.
The point is to follow some sort of eating timetable and stick with it.
3. Move more (at least 3 miles a day)
The exercise guidelines long recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services is now considered inadequate. They used to recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, but of course, we ignored the ‘at least’ part and barely get the minimum. Due to our ultra-convenient lifestyle, those guidelines have been doubled to 300 minutes a week.
One new habit, walking more, is the easiest way to consistently get in the exercise you need. Get an app, Fitbit or another tracker to track how many steps you take per day and aim to walk a minimum of 3 miles. Here are some smaller habits to get you into the routine:
- Walk after meals, especially lunch and dinner. This aids digestion too.
- When you can, park a few yards further away. It adds up and you will get used to the habit.
- Shop in stores more often. Use overnight shipping and online shopping when you really need it.
- Work it in at work. Take breaks that require walking—go see a co-worker instead of sending an email, take the stairs to go 1-3 flights, use the walking desk if your company has one, and use all opportunities to walk.
Here’s a little-known weight loss fact:
People who lose weight and keep it off experience success in other areas of their lives too.
There’s something about winning, especially winning at something we once believed we couldn’t, that makes us feel like we can do anything!
Although these are simple tips, I know each one can take time to master so it’s important that you don’t try to master them all at once. There are tricks to creating habits and one of the most basic ones is to take small steps. Habits like these are like anything new you’ve tried to do. Think about how it was when you were learning to drive, speak a new language or learning a new computer software for work. Those skills and habits that you’ve now mastered took you time and you sucked at them in the beginning.
A couple more stick-with-it tips
- Do all three, but focus on perfecting one habit a time.
- It usually helps to start with the easiest or more foundational habit. In this case, it would be timing your meals right.
- Next, work on the habit you’ve failed at least. So if you’ve failed at diets a lot, make exercise your next focus.
If you continue to work and grow with us, you’ll realize you can do what you once taught impossible. Eat nutritiously, time your meals and move more. Yes, it may take as long as a year to get where you want to go (more if you have a lot of weight to lose), but you must ditch the instant gratification mindset if you want to lose weight permanently.
Take care of yourself.