A lot of people will buy a book on “nutrition” because they are looking for help and advice when it comes to losing weight. But, here are some things to keep in mind about weight loss:
- Weight loss, weight control and weight management has to do with a person’s activity levels.
- What a person eats also plays a crucial role in their success (calories in versus calories out).
I personally feel that exercise is more important than just diet alone when it comes to keeping the weight off after it is initially lost. You will find most weight loss programs focus on quick weight loss through a very low-caloric meal plan or a restriction of specific types of foods. Remember, when you cut back eating certain foods and thereby restrict calories, weight loss will occur. But in doing this for long term success, if you don’t consume adequate nutrients, you can put your health at risk.
If you do not learn new behavioral skills with ways to make weight management and proper eating habits stick, chances are you will rebound back to your old behavioral patterns and habits which means you will eventually gain the weight back. If you are struggling with being overweight you will likely lose weight as you learn to manage and take control of your portion sizes while closely watching the foods you consume and tracking what you eat (your daily caloric intake). You will also choose nutrient dense low-fat and high fiber foods over high fat, sugar laden foods that are high in calories. Whether or not you need to lose weight, by making better food choices you will reap the benefits of eating a healthier diet.
NUTRITION TIP: Daily Food Log
I’d like to talk about keeping a daily food log and why it’s so important. A daily food log will help you develop the habit of holding yourself accountable with what you are eating on a daily basis. You can’t change what you don’t recognize and you can only manage what you measure. By keeping track of what you eat, you can identify the areas that you will need to make the necessary changes in. Sometimes, we are not truly aware of just how much we are consuming on a daily basis. Keeping a daily food log will help you do just that.
- Are you eating the recommended number of servings each day? You might find out quickly that you’re not eating the recommended amount of servings in a particular food group required to help you stay healthy.
If your goal is to achieve a caloric balance of calories in versus calories out, you will benefit from self-monitoring the foods you are eating by using the daily food log. This is a great step in the right direction. You may feel that counting calories is too time consuming to add into your busy schedule. But if your goal is to lose weight, control weight or manage weight, it’s a necessary skill you must develop if you want to succeed and keep the weight off for a lifetime.
There are many wonderful websites you can visit on the Internet that will help you track your calories for the day to help you cut the time it will take you to record your daily caloric intake by writing it down. It can be done in a matter of minutes and many websites have helpful diet tracking apps you can download on your mobile phone. While you’re tracking your nutritional intake, it’s also important to check the food labels for caloric content to make sure everything is accurate when you record your meals.
- The calories listed on a package, box or can are usually for ONE serving size, so make note of that.
- When eating out, check the menu for healthier options. The restaurant should have the calories listed.
- Buy yourself a food book that lists important macronutrients of different foods and includes calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat and other items. You can find this type of book on Amazon or at your local book store.
Remember, diet alone for the long-term may not keep the weight off, so you should consider adding exercise into your overall weight loss program to supercharge your results and help keep the weight from coming back. One of the most important benefits of being physically active is that it will help you manage your weight. Not only that but regular activity provides the following health benefits:
REGULAR EXERCISE IMPROVES:
- Heart and lung function
- Bone strength
- Muscular strength
- Your activities of daily living
- Balance and coordination
- Improves energy levels
REGULAR EXERCISE DECREASES:
- Blood pressure
- Risk of diabetes
- Risk of obesity
- Reduces stress levels
- May reduce bone fractures in the elderly
There is some evidence to suggest that a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk of developing some types of cancer, particularly cancer of the colon and female reproductive system.
Which Type of Exercise Is The Best?
Almost any aerobic activity will get you into shape because it means moving your large muscle groups rhythmically. This requires you to breathe more rapidly and increases your heart rate which increases your heart health. Walking, swimming, bicycling, tennis, climbing stairs and just moving can improve your cardiovascular health. The benefits of regular activity and proper nutrition can help you:
- Sleep better
- Maintain weight
- Have more energy
- Increase your overall sense of well-being
- Decrease your stress levels
Regular Exercise Can Prevent or Delay:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
There’s more good news about becoming physically fit. Even light to moderate activity can and will improve your health:
- It will add a longer life span
- Enhance strength, flexibility, endurance
- Can prevent weight loss regain cycles (that yo-yo, emotional merry-go-round)
You can clearly see that by being physically active and having a healthier nutrition plan in place, you will be able to reap amazing healthy benefits even into your older years.
Please Remember: Get approval from a physician before starting an exercise program. Start out slow and don’t overdo it. Don’t expect to overcome years of inactivity in a few days. Mix exercise with everyday activities whenever possible. Grab a friend and start a walking club in your neighborhood. Watch your calories, cut back on high sugar, high calorie treats and avoid late night snacking. Record your progress because it will help you see just how far you have come. Learn to relax and get enough rest with plenty of sleep every night since this will get you off to a great start in the morning. Try your best to avoid worrying and stressing out about certain things and stay positive. It’s important to keep in mind all of the good things that exercise and eating healthy does for your heart, your health, your looks and your overall spirit. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen!