Weight loss is a huge issue today. Our society idealizes people who are thin, but we’re also facing the worst obesity epidemic the world has ever seen.
We all know someone – maybe it’s yourself – who’d really like to lose a few pounds. But in a world where there is an overabundance of junk food and a lack of daily exercise, many of us have forgotten how to eat intuitively.
Dieting and weight loss is a booming $66-billion a year industry, and many people desperately buy into fads and quick fixes. People try diet pills, meal replacement shakes, even belly-stapling surgeries – when you think about it, how crazy is that? Unfortunately, about 90 percent of all dieters regain some or all of the weight they originally lost.
But there’s very good news: over the years I’ve met many people who have won the weight loss battle once and for all. Most of them have looked past the diet books and trends and landed on a few simple but extremely effective strategies.
Always eat breakfast. People who eat breakfast are much more successful at keeping the weight off, in my experience. When you skip meals, your metabolism slows down, you become calorie deficient, and you usually end up bingeing later in the day.
Drink more water. Many people can effortlessly lose 10 pounds by simply replacing soda with water throughout the day. Be careful with alcoholic drinks as well – they can contain a lot of empty calories. Also try drinking water before your meal. It will help you feel full and break down the food more effectively.
Make your own meals. Restaurant food almost always has more salt, fat, and calories than food you cook for yourself. Plus the portions are usually enormous. Though cooking for yourself can seem daunting, check out my three favorite simple recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.
Reduce your stress levels. Many people eat more when they feel stressed. Food can be very comforting, and recent studies show that the stress hormone cortisol stimulates the release of insulin and can actually increase your appetite. Try reducing your stress levels by taking a hot bath or going for a walk, and practice mindful eating by slowing down, breathing, and enjoying each bite of your food.
Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is critical to almost every aspect of your health, and that includes maintaining a healthy weight. Growing evidence supports that missing out on sleep can increase your appetite. Most people need 7-8 hours every night. How much sleep are you getting?
Keep moving. Exercise is a core aspect of primary food – all the factors that feed you beyond the food on your plate. The body was made to move, so try to find a form of exercise you actually enjoy. You can start with small changes – get off the bus one stop early or park in the back of the parking lot to get a few extra steps in each day.
Identify your temptation foods. Almost all of us have our kryptonite foods that can trigger overeating. For me it’s ice cream. For you it might be something salty or deep-fried. Do not keep these foods in your home and if you find you can’t enjoy them in moderation on occasion without going overboard, try to avoid them completely.
Beyond that, it’s up to you to experiment and find exactly what works for you and your goals. Some people lose weight on a vegan diet full of tofu and brown rice; for other people, the key is a paleo diet completely free of grains. That’s the beauty of bio-individuality – there’s no one-size-fits-all diet.
Many Integrative Nutrition students end up losing weight when they start shifting some of their food choices. They report having more energy, more excitement about food, and oh yeah, they lost 25 pounds. When people make the connection that healthy whole foods make your whole life better, the weight becomes a secondary issue.
That leads me to my most important point – being healthy is about so much more than what you weigh. In a society obsessed with appearances, I see so many people agonize over a dress size or a number on a scale. That’s not what makes you valuable or important.
What really matters is that you have the energy, confidence, and happiness to pursue your passion and live a meaningful life. That’s exactly what I mean when I say “health is a vehicle, not a destination.” Find what’s healthiest for you and then go out there and make a difference in the world.
Have you ever struggled with your weight? Do you have any thoughts or tips to share? I’d love to hear – share your experience in the comments below.
Joshua Rosenthal, Founder, Director, and Primary Teacher of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition shares his wisdom about creating a healthy and happy life that helps transform the world.