There are simple and proven weight-control strategies that you can adapt to jump-start a lifestyle change program. These are not dependent on fads and do not leave you feeling deprived.
It’s now mid-year but there are people who might still be struggling to lose weight to be fit. Perhaps the diet programs they started were not sustainable at all or were good for just a few weeks or a couple of months at most.
But a motivated person can strictly follow a particular diet, successfully lose weight, and go on to adapt a truly effective lifestyle change.
You can actually practice portion control, elimination of high-calorie foods, and junking a high-fat, high-carb diet in a short period of time.
But lifestyle change is a continuous process of learning how the mind and the body can gradually adjust to the demands of healthy eating and becoming more active. You should go through the whole process to see what really works for you.
Vina Concepcion-Monasterio, 47, has been exercising regularly but is struggling to drop the last 10 lbs off her target weight. But since March this year, she applied gradual, simple lifestyle modifications— avoiding sweets and pastries, eating less red meat and limiting alcohol consumption. She did not follow a special diet plan.
After eight weeks, she lost 12 lbs.
A jump-start program doesn’t necessarily mean shocking the body to achieve results. Here are simple lifestyle modification strategies that you can try:
1. Eliminate foods that are not beneficial to your health.
You don’t need to follow a particular food plan or spend for special health foods at this point. You just have to eliminate foods that can sabotage your health and weight so you don’t get tempted to grab a bite, and eventually finish the whole thing.
This is called stimulus control, a behavior-modification strategy proven to be effective in lifestyle-change programs.
You can keep the foods out of sight by trying these suggestions (just try for a week or two and you will see the favorable health and weight-loss effects).
Identify foods that you don’t need: processed foods (ham, hotdog, meat loaf); high-fat and high-sugar desserts (donuts, chocolates, cakes, pastries); flavored drinks and junk food (chips high in fat and sodium).
Of course, you can’t avoid them all when you eat out or if you visit a friend’s house; but if ever, do so in moderation or limit the frequency to one serving a week.
The most important thing right now is for you to free your current environment from these foods.
Learn how to say no when offered food that you are trying to avoid. Make a decision right now to be a more assertive person.
If your self-control is not that strong, don’t go to places that will stimulate your cravings, such as malls and your favorite restaurants. Limit interaction with people who might derail your health goals. Also, avoid reading food blogs and websites that feature top foods to eat and restos to try.
Your taste buds might look for something sweet or salty after letting go of your usual chips and desserts treats. To avoid feeling deprived, make an effort to make healthy food alternatives available to satisfy your occasional cravings.
Have some yogurt with dried fruits, fresh fruits, fruit shakes with milk or yogurt, or a glass of low-fat milk/chocolate milk. I consider a small serving of pumpkin and sunflower seeds or almonds as better alternatives to junk foods such as potato and corn chips.
2. Control your food portions.
After getting used to controlling your environment, it is now a good time to gradually lessen portion size of your usual food intake so your stomach will get used to a moderate amount of meals. If you’ve been trying to lose weight but are still exceeding in food portions, you can try these doable portion-control and substitution strategies.
Remove some parts of the food or meals that doubles your calorie intake. Refrain from ordering 150 to 300 calories worth of sodas or milkshakes, remove the visible fat of a pork dish, let go of the large skin of a deep-fried chicken, and leave the rest of the rich sauces from your usual meals such as adobo and kare-kare.
If you’ve been having two cups of rice per meal, limit it to one cup, but add more raw or cooked vegetables to your meals so you don’t get deprived. This can help you save 100 to 150 calories per meal while still feeling full.
If you’ve been having two servings (one serving is the size of a deck of cards) of meat per meal, limit it to half or one serving and get additional half to one protein serving from seafood or chicken. Studies show that eating less servings of red meat is beneficial to one’s health and weight.
If you’re a fan of fancy milk teas and coffees, then choose the smallest size to save calories and, of course, money.
E-mail the author at [email protected] Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @mitchfelipe.