Exercising and dieting can create an energy deficit that can help us lose weight. But if the focus will always be on calories, then most people might just be preoccupied with burning more and eating less, without knowing the negative effects this may have.
What happens if we focus only on diet and exercise and disregard other aspects of effective weight control such as proper rest, positive attitude, supportive relationships and good self-management skills? Weight loss might not last for long; it may not happen at all.
Based on my personal experience, readings, research and daily dealings with clients, I’ve realized that changing one’s eating and exercise habits is just one part of the whole picture. An effective weight control strategy involves other major ingredients.
It has a game plan
The game plan includes your level of motivation, readiness, eating and exercise program, created especially so you can realistically follow everything until you achieve your weight goal. Copying someone’s weight loss plan might not work for you because the amount and type of exercise and food might be too little or too much for you.
You need to consult medical and/or weight loss professionals to get your best game plan. These are experts who can also teach you how to deal with challenges such as cravings, lapses, medical conditions, injuries and mood disturbances. Your stress and time management skills are also part of the plan.
Your exercise game plan: If you are just starting to make lifestyle changes to lose weight, you can’t just enroll in a fitness center or run outdoors every morning and burn 500 to 1,000 calories because you’ve read that to lose one pound of fat per week from exercise, you need to burn at least 500 calories per day.
You need a comprehensive lifestyle assessment and plan. Your physical activity plan would depend on how much time you devote to burning calories per day or per week. Remember that activities like moving around the house, performing household chores and climbing up and down the stairs have equivalent calorie burn as well.
The exercise intensity will be based on your fitness level, exercise history and nutrition. If you’ve been sedentary for the longest time, then a light to moderate physical activity like brisk walking and light weights might best suit your first weekly program. Your exercise program should progress gradually, depending on your fitness gains, to avoid injuries, health problems, overeating and early exercise termination.
Your eating game plan: Your eating plan to control weight will depend on your current physical activity game plan. Most people will just go on low-calorie diets without considering their daily energy expenditure, so they get weak and sick and are eventually unable to pursue their weight loss efforts.
The type of food and amount of calories you should eat per day to lose weight will depend on your weight, activity level, eating history, health status and goals. Your food preferences and lifestyle should also be considered to address feelings of deprivation and ensure program compliance.
You can’t just copy a diet from a website or from a friend on a medically supervised diet. It might work on a short-term basis, but might not last and would even cause medical problems in the future because of malnutrition and destroyed immune system.
It involves other people
Effective weight control involves the help and support of the people you live with and see every day at work.
Studies testify to the huge role of family and friends on one’s successful weight loss and maintenance. If you are currently following your eating and exercise plan, you should also have your relationship checklist:
Communicate to the people in your house regarding your goals and your efforts to modify your lifestyle, and how they can help by helping you change your food environment (not keeping junk food and sweets at home) and making it more accessible to exercise (creating an exercise area inside or outside the house).
Be a role model to your loved ones so they can also start their journey toward a healthy lifestyle. Show them that being more active and eating healthier is a good way to communicate and bond with each other.
Be with people who can help you embrace your new lifestyle. Limit time with people who eat high-calorie foods during and after work. But if you really value their companionship, then make an effort to positively influence them to eat healthy and to walk or exercise after work.
It positively affects your feelings and thinking
One of the main reasons weight loss programs don’t last is because people can’t achieve a feeling of balance and fulfillment during and after the program. Super strict diet plans and/or excessively tiring exercises can also ruin the balance in one’s life.
An effective program should make you happier, because you can see the benefits in yourself and in your daily life—your physical appearance, energy level, moods, health, job performance and even in your relationships. It also empowers you to continue your journey, because you have learned to become more flexible in creating your own plan, which you can always modify along the way.