If you happened to have a chat with, say, 10 of your friends and colleagues, 9 of them would probably hint that they feel like they need to lose some weight, even the ones who appear to be at a healthy weight. The thing is, we often base our weight goals on what we see on social media and the influences around us, rather than what is reasonable, or even healthy, for our bodies.
There are several tools available online that can help you determine what would be a healthy weight for you; the only information you need to have on hand is your height and current weight. However, before you set any weight loss goals, you should speak with your doctor for expert advice.
Whatever goals you set for yourself, these five steps will help keep you on track:
- Think long term but take baby steps.
Think of your weight goal as a lifestyle goal. Research shows that a short-term diet is not the answer to long-term weight loss management. Healthy weight loss can only be achieved through a lifestyle that includes long-term changes in habits such as eating, working out and sleeping. Set your eyes on the big picture but set small goals by breaking down your long-term goals into smaller short-term targets. This will make your plan manageable, seem attainable, less daunting and keep you accountable. For example, if your plan is to lose 10kg in three months, you can focus on a separate goal of losing 4kg in the first month and 3kg for the other two months. Smaller, attainable goals are baby steps to your bigger goal.
- Progress, not perfection.
Standing on the scale could sometimes be daunting. It’s a good thing the scale doesn’t always tell the exact story. While it does not hurt to check your weight on a scale, there are some other good indicators that show you are making progress, such as clothing size changes, quality of sleep, waist and hip measurements, daily active minutes, feel-good journaling and intensity of the workout. You want to continuously see progress, so find a progress indicator that you are comfortable with and track your progress.
- Load up on the good stuff!
Eating fewer calories than you burn daily is probably the most important step in your weight loss journey. A healthy and sustainable weight loss lifestyle change is one without any food restrictions; all foods are allowed, some in unlimited amounts and some in moderate portions. Load up on colorful fruits and vegetables and slow down on the whole grains, dairy, alcohol, and sweets. Aim to fill half of your plate with vegetables and have a good mix of proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates on the other half.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Reduce your intake of soft drinks and any beverages with unpronounceable names in the ingredients. You don’t need to have a glass of juice with every meal. A glass of water is more refreshing and saves you from all the unnecessary calories. Replacing soft drinks with water can lead to better sleep, improved energy, reduced risk of diabetes, improved heart health and blood pressure, and decreased anxiety and nervousness. When you do decide to have a drink, substitute high-sugar drinks for low-sugar ones.
- Bust a move!
30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day can aid your weight loss. Aim to be active as much as possible. Stand up and stretch every hour at your desk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk at lunchtime. Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities each week. Look for creative ways in your everyday life to be active daily.
- Bonus step: Loud it!
Build a support system. Tell your friends about your weight loss lifestyle change and your goal. Find a few friends who support you and make sure they hold you accountable. If possible, spend less time with those who do not support your journey. But in all, try to educate people around you on the benefits of living a healthier life.
Are you ready to live your best life?