Focus on Habits, Not Diets
One habit changed for the rest of your life is more powerful than dozens of short-term changes that you have no intention of sticking with.
Weight Loss NOT the Sole Focus
Put your energies into developing the most healthful lifestyle possible. Such a program will typically offer gradual, lasting weight reduction.
Don’t Fear Major Lifestyle Changes
Although changing habits is initially difficult, if you continue a new habit, your body tends to adjust to your new habits and enjoy them just as much, if not more, than your old ones. Think of it as an adventure into new lovely landscape!
Don’t be Discouraged by Past Failures
While wrongfully imprisoned, the apostle Paul wrote: “My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal… I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ( Phil.3:13-14;4:13)
Make exercise as close to a daily practice as possible. Although 30 minutes or more of aerobic (“cardio”) exercise should generally be your target, even five minutes of activity gives significant physiologic benefits. In other words, do something every day, even if pressed for time. For added benefits, include stretches and resistant training. Even 10 minutes exercise breaks throughout the day will yield dividends to your health.
Break Clean with “Problem Foods”
Problem foods are those items of which your attempts to limit your intake typically fail. Common problem foods are ice cream, chocolate, and chips, but it is important to realize problem foods are individually determined: a problem food for one person might not be for another. Total avoidance of your problem foods is generally the only successful strategy. Just like an alcoholic or nicotine addict, occasional use is generally not an option.
Satisfy Hunger, Not Appetite
This is perhaps the most powerful weight-control principle available. Confused? Consider the following definitions.
- Hunger- a physiological desire for food that reflects your body’s true needs.
- Appetite- a mental desire for food that may or may not be in harmony with your actual physical needs.
- Note- At birth, our bodies knew the difference between hunger and appetite. However, our culture had educated us to eat when we’re not hungry. One key “ingredient” in differentiating between hunger and appetite is slowing down the speed at which you eat. If you’re a rapid eater, try the following:
- Chew thoroughly. The more you chew your food, the more satisfaction you tend to receive.
- Don’t drink with meals. It is a common mistake to use beverages to help “wash down” one’s food.
- Thirst is often mis-perceived as hunger. Opt for pure water between meals instead of snacking or drinking calorie-containing beverages.
- Take small portions and don’t put serving dishes on the table. Having to get up for seconds helps slow your eating tempo, thus providing more time for your brain to register satisfaction.
- Put your fork down between bites.
- If you have a question as to whether or not your hunger is satisfied, leave the table.
Good Breakfast Daily
A good breakfast fortifies you against the temptation to snack on less desirable food items during the morning. Furthermore, in the morning, our bodies are geared to burn fat; while in the evening, our physiology shifts toward rebuilding tissues and regenerating fat stores. For example, one study found excellent weight loss by not eating after 3:00 P.M. each day. Avoiding large meals late in the day thus helps with weight reduction. It increases the likelihood that you will be hungry for a good breakfast the following morning.
Some Lose Weight by Grazing on Those Oft-Touted Five, Six, or Seven Meals per Day
However, others gain weight on such a program as more frequent meal times present more opportunities to overeat. In fact, the main benefit of grazing may be the avoidance of large evening meals. However, you can cut back at supper time even if eating only two or three times per day. Furthermore, eating fewer times per day has been associated with:
- Better physical endurance. Glycogen stores (your body’s “fuel tank” for energy) are replenished better on two meals per day than seven.
- Decreased colon cancer risk. More frequent meals or snacks are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. (Obesity and inactivity further increase the risk of a number of types of cancer.)
- Weight loss. If you eat the same number of calories per day, eating those calories in fewer meals will increase something called the “thermic effect of food” which results in more calories burned.
Eat More Plant-Derived Foods
A diet composed of only whole plant food sources of nutrition (a vegetarian diet) has many health benefits. Although such a diet may be optimal, you don’t have to be a total vegetarian to benefit from eating more fruits, grains, and vegetables. A plant-based diet helps:
- Decrease caloric density. Devoid of fiber and typically of low water content, a given volume of animal foods is generally packed with more calories than a similar amount of plant foods. If you eat the same amount, an animal product-based diet will thus generally give you many more calories than one centered around plant foods.
- Limit sugar intake. Plant products tend to be low in refined sugars. In contrast, problem foods are commonly found in the “sweets” category and feature animal ingredients. Sugar is a common ingredient in these refined products often presenting problems for weight management and blood sugar control. Sweets also have a tendency to raise triglyceride levels– a common problem in those who are overweight.
- Decrease fat consumption. Eating the wrong kind of fat contributes to unhealthful weight gain. As most plant foods are low in fat, a plant-based diet aids in weight control.