Striving to achieve a healthy weight can be incredibly frustrating at times. Our physiology and brain chemistry are set-ups to maintain the status quo. Metabolism naturally slows down as we age. And toxic processed food products surround us most of the time, while healthy options can seem hard to come by.
But we urge you to persevere. The physical and mental health benefits of getting to your optimal weight are innumerable. Obesity, especially in the abdomen, is a leading contributor to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and several forms of cancer. Getting your weight into a healthy range for your age, height, bone structure, and gender truly is one of the most important things you can do for your long-term health.
Losing weight is about making new priorities and sticking to them. Your health needs to become more important than your taste buds, immediate gratification, or fitting in with your peers. Every day, in every moment, feeling good in your body needs to matter more than pleasing your palette or the adrenaline rush you get from sugary and fatty foods.
Healthy is More Important than Skinny
It is important to recognize what you are prioritizing. Focusing on numbers on a scale and other mathematical measures is not very exciting or motivating. Instead, pay attention to how you feel when you exercise and eat whole plant-based meals.
When we get obsessive about reaching a certain numerical goal, slow progress can be frustrating, and it’s actually easier to “cheat.” But if you are focused on how you feel and preserving your health for the long run, you are more likely to keep doing the things that actually support sustainable weight loss.
Making a huge change is even harder when we try to go it alone. Luckily, you don’t have to struggle with your weight all by yourself. There are literally thousands of healthcare professionals that want to support you. Your local hospital, community center, or college probably has volunteers and programs designed to help you get on track. And here at MHLC, we have an experienced team dedicated to helping people achieve their health and fitness goals.
It also important to surround yourself with people who support your goals. If you are committed to eating healthfully but your family dinners are filled with processed sugars and inflammatory oils, you might not get very far. Invite your friends and family members to help you by keeping trigger foods out of sight. They might even be inspired to make some healthy switches with you if you talk to them about your goals and plans.
A Lifestyle, Not a Diet
Weight loss is only partially about restricting what you eat. To lose weight in a truly sustainable way, you may need to completely overhaul your entire life. Changing when and how you eat are just as important as shifting what you eat, if not more important.
For example, if your metabolism tends to be sluggish, you need to be sure to eat a substantial breakfast with protein as soon as possible after waking, even before you work out. Slow metabolisms are better served by having several small meals throughout the day than just a couple large ones. Strive to never let yourself get too hungry or too full.
You may also need to shift the way you exercise. Just doing steady cardio is not as effective for fat burning as integrating interval training and strength training. The body thrives with variety, and one of the secrets to weight loss is to change up your exercise routine frequently.
Focus on how you can set up your entire life to support your goals, not just in counting calories and fat grams.
Every Little Bit Counts
Whether you’ve been trying to lose weight for a week or ten years, it is never too late to reach your goals. Every little bit, every time you choose a truly nourishing food over a toxic snack, every time you exercise matters.
Sustainable weight loss takes time. Many experts say that losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is optimal and achievable for most people. And the more ingrained your new lifestyle becomes, the easier it will be to keep going and lose more weight. Just like every sugary treat adds fat to your body, every healthy choice helps you burn it off.
Ultimately, only you can know what is healthy for you. For some people, having a few extra pounds is no big deal, and they are truly as happy as they are. But if you feel compelled to lose weight, listen to that inner calling.
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things we can do for our immune systems, digestions, and mental and physical health. It may not be easy, but if you prioritize your health over gratification, get support, stay committed, and focus on how you feel instead of numbers, it is possible to let go of what no longer serves you and reach the optimal weight for your body.