To be at a weight you are happy with and in good health is something we all aspire to. Many New Year’s Resolutions are made with this goal in mind – sadly only to be discarded within weeks, or even days for too many.
For some the struggle to reach this goal does not seem attainable. Change needs to happen and mostly it’s a combination of changes. So, please remember that what you eat and how much you eat are important – but so are hydration, sleep quality, daily physical activity, stress management, positive mindset, self-care, sunshine, and social relationships.
We’d like to share these 23 Action Steps for lasting weight management to practice and make your dreams and goals an easy reality.
1.Prioritise protein in all meals and snacks. Protein maintains satiety, slows down the digestive process and helps keep hunger away, reducing food cravings and mood swings. Protein-rich foods include meat, fish, poultry, offal, eggs, cheese, tofu, tempeh and protein powder.
2. Stay away from hunger between meals with these smart protein snacks: low carb (low sugar) low fat protein powder shakes, cottage cheese, tinned tuna, or Greek yoghurt with berries. Eggs are a great natural source of protein and nutrients so always have some hard-boiled eggs in your fridge.
3.Avoid highly processed foods that are deep fried, battered or crumbed. These foods are normally high in both carbs and fat, and usually cooked in vegetable or seed oils and low in nutrition and satiety. Not good for your waistline or your health!
4. Get to know and love herbs and spices for added flavour. Buy a fresh herb each week and experiment by adding to salads, omelette or meats. Consider growing your own herbs. A sprinkle of salt helps many dishes, and helps you maintain electrolyte balance.
5.Ensure a serving or two of good fats daily and easily found within red meat, fatty fish, olive or coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, cream cheese, butter and pesto. Together with protein, good fats help prevent hunger, cravings and assists with nutrient absorption of fat-based nutrients, and excellent for brain health.
6.Avoid vegetable and seed oils which are high in omega-6 and may increase the risk of obesity and inflammation. These oils are highly processed and chemically altered. Common vegetable oils include soybean, corn, peanut, sesame, safflower, sunflower, canola and rice bran oil. Often found in salad dressings, margarine, mayonnaise, cookies and many tasty restaurant dishes.
7.Reduce foods that contain added sugar and little protein. This is a no-brainer. The major sources of added sugars are found in soft drinks, sweetened tea and flavoured coffees and milk, energy drinks and fruit juices, sweets, cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, breakfast cereals and fruit yoghurts.
8.Don’t be afraid of drinking coffee. One or two cups a day may have some health benefits. Add a dash of pure cream if black coffee is not for you. Drink your coffee before noon as it can over-stimulate you and may disrupt your sleep if drunk too late in the day.
9.Keep your body hydrated to aid digestion, deliver nutrients to cells, help kidney function and bowel movements, temperature control, and joint lubrication. Being well-hydrated can improve sleep quality, mood and clarity.
10.Limit alcohol intake as this makes losing weight harder. Alcohol interferes with losing weight (burning body fat), disrupts sleep, adds calories without nutrition, increases the desire to consume high sugary starchy foods and makes it harder to commit to regular exercise. Alcohol is catabolic, meaning it contributes to a shrinking of your calorie-burning lean tissue.
11. Practice the “one plate” rule where you serve your meal on a plate, then take it to the table. This is far better for weight control than eating smorgasbord-style, where you place dishes on the table and people help themselves. Set time aside to sit down at the table with cutlery and napery. Savour each mouthful, chewing slowly and place cutlery down between each mouthful. Enjoy the company and conversation, play some background music and leave your phone in another room. This teaches mindfulness and enjoyment of the food you are eating.
12. Provide a variety of foods and flavours to enjoy at different meals. For some this may mean 2 or 3 breakfast choices and perhaps 4 – 7 meal choices. Try at least one new meal each week and if you enjoy this adds to your variety. Don’t be afraid to try low sugar fruits and non-starchy vegetables in season. Variety is the spice of life. For example, cauliflower is low in carbohydrate and high in fibre.
13. Pre-plan your recipes and create a shopping list. Spend an hour or two on meal prep. If the oven is on what can you put in to save time cooking. Instead of one roast try two, leaving cold cuts for the next few days. Instead of one tray of vegetables make two. Instead of one frittata make a tray of low carb protein muffins as well for snacks over the coming days. Spending time pre-planning saves you time and decision fatigue.
14. Spring clean your kitchen pantry and fridge. You will be spending more time in the kitchen because you will be eating more home cooked meals. Ensure your fridge is well stocked with meat, eggs, fish, cheese, and low carb green and coloured vegetables, and your freezer has low-sugar berries and ice cubes. Clean out your pantry and gift any foods like biscuits, cakes, pasta, flour, and breakfast cereals or just throw them out. What’s better – going to waste or going to your waist?
15.Wind down before sleep. Stay away from screens an hour before bed and dim the lights or use candles. Develop an evening routine which may include reading a book or playing cards instead of screen time. Have a bath, write a positive thought in your gratitude journal, practice yoga or meditation.
16. Good quality sleep allows us to make better choices with our food and other areas of our life including emotional, mental and brain health. Our hormones are better balanced when we get enough sleep to repair and refresh our bodies. Having heavy curtains that block out all light helps you get a better night’s sleep and make sure to leave any devices outside the bedroom.
17.Daily activity, movement or exercise contribute to improved brain health, weight management, bone and muscle strength, lower blood pressure and improved heart health, better sleep quality, protection against chronic disease and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Put out walking shoes and exercise gear before getting into bed.
18.Do some resistance exercise, lift weights or do body weight exercises. Try a circuit, functional training or HIIT class (High Intensity Interval Training) or push ups and planks at home. It does not have to take much time but keep your muscles and bones strong, no matter your age. This helps your posture and bones, minimising the risk of osteoporosis and reducing the risk of injury and falls as we age.
19.Nurture social relationships – studies show that regular social engagement with family, friends and loved ones ensure you have a longer and happier life. Having the support of a community who have similar health goals will provide support along the way.
20.Remember your waist is a great indicator of your overall health. If your waist measurement is 50% or more than your height, then you do need to start a program to lose weight. If you don’t have a measuring tape then use a piece of string. Measure your waist once a month.
21.Stress can affect your blood sugar levels, food choices, immune function, weight, fat distribution and overall health. Find a way to reduce stress by meditation, yoga, breath work, getting out in nature through hiking or gardening. Just find what works for you! If you cannot avoid the stressors that stress you, learn how to respond differently to them.
22. Self-care and taking time for yourself without feeling guilty is important. Stress can result from not taking some time for yourself. Options could include yoga, breath or meditation practice, hobbies like painting, singing or dancing, catching up with a loved one for a walk and talk, Epsom salts bath, walk your dog or writing a daily gratitude journal.
23. Be realistic about what you want to achieve. How long have you wanted to lose weight? How long have you considered yourself overweight? Are you prepared to have a realistic goal of losing 400 gm a week? Weight loss is not a straight line. Some weeks you may have a huge loss and others a small loss. Weigh yourself weekly and graph your weight. If your weight is trending down then celebrate your success to date.
There are many components to successful long-term weight management. If you’re wanting to add accountability to your action plan why not try the Keto Fitness online 8 week program? Click on Lose Weight Now at the top of the page to get started.