6 Healthy Habits To Lose Weight

health-and-fitnessAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cost of obesity related medical conditions in the US in 2008 was $147 billion. Some of these medical conditions include stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The good news is overweight people can prevent the development of such diseases if they lose excess weight. Here are six healthy habits to get you started:

Set Realistic Goals

Most people fail to achieve their weight loss goals because they set unrealistic targets. To avoid such an outcome, you should set realistic and achievable goals. For example, you could start with a goal to lose about five to 10% of your current weight. In addition, give yourself enough time to lose weight. For instance, you should not set a goal of losing five percent of your body weight within two weeks. Instead, give yourself a more realistic time limit of about three months or so depending on your work or study schedule.

Reduce Your Meal Portions

To lose weight, you should downsize your meal portions. Remember, the more you eat, the higher the likelihood of gaining weight. An effective way of achieving this goal is using small plates (such as salad plates) to serve your meals. The problem with using large plates is your food portions will look very small, which means you are likely to pile even more food. Extend the same principle to beverages. Serve and drink beverages from small cups (preferably 6 to 8 ounce cups).

Join A Support Network

When you embark on a weight loss program or diet, you should be prepared to go the whole hog. This means months and possibly years of watching what you eat or exercising regularly. To ensure you do not give up after a few days or weeks, surround yourself with a support network of friends, obese/overweight people who would like to shed excess weight, or work colleagues who can motivate you to stick to your weight loss routine. For instance, you could join a group of Weight Watchers.

Avoid Simple Carbohydrates

Avoid foods that contain simple carbohydrates because they tend to cause blood sugar spikes as well as cause weight gain. Instead, eat whole grain foods. According to a study (involving 74,000 women) carried out by researchers from Harvard University, participants who ate whole grains at least two times a day were 49% less likely to gain weight compared to those who chose to eat foods that contain simple carbohydrates.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is one of the most effective ways of losing excess weight. Figures published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) show that you need to walk or run one mile to burn about 100 calories. Take note you do not need to exercise rigorously to lose weight. Taking a 30-minute walk every day, jogging, swimming, or dancing can help you shed body fat over time.  Remember to warm up by doing gentle stretches before exercising. This is necessary to avoid developing injuries.

Furthermore, take plenty of fluids like water to ensure you remain well hydrated as you exercise. Exercise also lowers levels of low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and raises levels of high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). Finally, exercise triggers the release of chemicals and hormones that make one feel relaxed and happy, according to ACSM.

Evaluate Your Eating Habits

It is advisable to evaluate your eating habits carefully. Some of the things you should carefully monitor include the types of foods you eat, number of times you eat in a day, as well as snacks that you eat in between meals. You may be surprised to find that you eat calorie-rich foods every hour or so.

burgerIf this is the case, you must change your eating habits immediately. For example, you should stop buying and stocking so called “splurge/comfort foods” such as ice cream, chocolate, buttered bagels, and cakes. This is because eating these high-calorie foods will cause you to gain weight.

You should also avoid eating three or four large meals every day. Instead, eat five or six small meals evenly spaced throughout the day. According to a study published by besthealthmag.ca, people who divide their morning meals into several portions and then eat them at hourly intervals consume 30% fewer calories during lunchtime. In addition, such staggered meal portions cause the body to release less insulin, which means you do not have to worry about blood sugar spikes.

In conclusion, if you would like to lose some weight, you do not necessarily have to starve yourself or spend hours in the gym. Weight control is all adopting healthy habits including exercising regularly, surrounding yourself with a support network, evaluating and changing your eating habits, reducing your meal portions, setting realistic goals, and shunning foods that contain simple carbohydrates. Finally, if you have a medical condition such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, consult your physician before you start dieting or exercising.