Losing weight and becoming fitter are becoming more and more important in our lives. There is a lot of information out there that should be of help to us in our quest for ‘perfection’, but it is becoming more confusing and much more difficult to know which diet to choose and which exercise regimen to stick to.
It is widely accepted that any new diet and exercise plan will not show noticeable results for at least three to four weeks upon commencement, sometimes it is this lack of change that creates frustration and leads to ‘falling off the wagon’ or even giving up all together. This time period is vital and once you come through it, you will see small changes that soon add up to large changes.
It is also worth noting that any new exercise routine will shock your body, especially if it is something you are not used to. This will lead to your body going into ‘protection mode’. This will manifest itself in water retention so that joints are protected from high impact exercise, and perhaps your body will panic and hold on to stored fat for a little longer than it needs to. This does pass and though the initial first few weeks seem to drag with no changes or even hope of change; when your body realizes it is not under attack or in danger, it will soon adapt and you will see very pleasant and encouraging changes to your body shape.
Lifestyle Changes for Better Health and Weight Loss
It is all very well embarking on an exercise routine, and though commendable, it is not the most important part. Your diet is ultimately the tool to change your body and help you lose weight. It is easy to assume that if you have led a life of eating junk food and refined, stodgy foods, then any small change for the better will yield positive results. If, however, you have always eaten reasonably healthy foods with only the occasional treat, small changes may not be enough, though combined with exercise it will eventually work.
There are several factors to take into account when planning a healthy diet, for instance, do you have any allergies, are you intolerant of some foods, are you already a vegetarian or vegan, do your cultural beliefs forbid certain meats or fish? If these things are not an issue, then it can be quite simple to adapt a diet to help you lose weight.
Fiber is one of the most vital food groups to include in your diet. Fiber can be obtained from vegetables and whole grains and some fruit. Consuming fiber will help you feel fuller for longer, thus helping you to not over eat, fiber also helps keep your colon and bowel healthy and aids with digestion of other food and the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Most of all though, fiber is great for losing weight. Fiber is not stored in the body to be converted in to energy, it simply fills you up and helps your digestion tract do what it is supposed to do. You will obtain vitamins and minerals from vegetables and fruit and whole grains, but you will not be consuming large amounts of fat.
Protein is also a very important part of a healthy diet. This can be obtained from lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables. Protein is the building block of the body and helps in the maintenance of healthy lean muscle, hair, skin, nails in fact, every cell in your body needs protein. Protein is much harder for the body to convert into fat, so the body uses what it needs and then gets rid of what it does not need or use. This is highlighted by the fact that people on a high protein and low carb diet can lose a lot of weight without feeling hungry.
Carbohydrates are what give us the energy we need to function every day and to do additional tasks such as exercise. There is a minimum requirement, individual to everybody and depends upon your build, height, weight, lifestyle, gender etc. Bear in mind though, that any carbs you do not use for energy will be stored and they will be turned into sugars for energy. If these sugars are not used then they turn into fat, the stored fat that our bodies keep for us to use as energy.
Fats are vital to a healthy diet, they provide us with essential vitamins and minerals, they protect our organs and joints, but we have to be careful and selective when it comes to fats. There are healthy fats that we need in our diet, such as olive oil and coconut oil, avocados, peanut butter (in small amounts).
Water plays another essential role in a healthy diet. Our entire bodies are approximately 70% water! This means that we should be consuming a lot of the stuff everyday. It flushes out the system, keeps our brains functioning and helps keep our skin looking and feeling fresher and younger. It also helps us when we are trying to lose weight. Often, thirst is mistaken for hunger. One glass of water with a slice of lemon in it can help curb our appetites until meal time.
In conclusion, a healthy diet to lose weight is a diet combining all of the food groups in five or six small meals through the day. Eating this way keeps the metabolism ticking over and keeps us energized throughout the day. Starting each day with a healthy breakfast is vital. Eating unrefined, natural whole foods and avoiding refined, starchy and sugary foods will lead to a healthier lifestyle and help you lose weight. It is key to remember to listen to your body also. Many times we eat because we are bored. It is difficult to get to know our own bodies but when we really listen and pay attention, the rewards are amazing. This also applies to the fact that every now and then, we need a rest from exercise, or a treat! Moderation is key and having a little of what you fancy does make a difference, it takes the pressure off. Stress can cause weight gain, or even the inability to lose weight due to the stress hormone, Cortisol. This hormone forces the body to store fat and not let it go. One of the best and easiest ways to lose weight is to relax, find activities you enjoy and eat healthy, whole foods.