By Kim Thomas, Us Health Corps
Losing even just a bit of weight can be difficult, but overriding a lifetime of bad habits that have led to obesity is a big challenge. You will be bombarded with contradictory information on how to lose weight quickly and effortlessly, but these methods are short-lived and can actually be bad for your health. This is why there is increasing evidence that the best way to approach weight loss is through wellness-focused actions that support a healthy lifestyle.
Self-Care and Weight Loss
Self-care is the series of actions we undertake to improve our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It can be a tricky balance, particularly when we are trying to lose weight. On one hand, you need to practice self-control and discipline; yet on the other hand, you don’t want to develop an unhealthy fixation with your body.
This is why it is important to deal with obesity and weight loss in a way that prioritizes health and wellness, rather than quick results. This includes your mental and emotional health, which should not suffer in your endeavor to have a healthier body.
Approximately 45 million Americans go on a diet every year. Out of these, most gain the weight back. Dieting is not only grueling, it is ineffective. According to Time, this essentially comes down to the fact that our understanding of dieting, such as the “calories in, calories out” philosophy, is flawed and doesn’t necessarily work in the same way for everyone.
Instead, many doctors are encouraging an approach to food that they call “competent eating.” Competent eaters are flexible in their diets and well-informed about the benefits of their food. They aim to eat a balanced diet that makes them feel good and fulfills their nutritional needs, but do not punish themselves for occasional treats. For instance, if you have a sweet tooth that you tend to indulge with sugary snacks, swap out your daily dose of cookies for a nutrient-packed smoothie. It’s better to make your own than purchase one, since grocery store versions tend to be packed with added sugar, and perhaps having a handy tool like a portable immersion blender to make a sweet fruit smoothie, might be a great way to ensure you can satisfy your craving at home or work. Practicing this more relaxed approach to eating will not give you the immediate results that an extreme diet would, but it will create a healthy relationship with food that will lead to slow, progressive, yet potentially-permanent weight loss.
As with eating, the secret to finding an exercise routine that you can stick to is finding one that makes you happy. You don’t have to do the extreme, punishing workouts you see on TV. Instead, find an exercise that you can do for pleasure. This can be swimming, dancing, playing soccer, or participating in a martial art, or set up a home gym with basic equipment if you prefer working out in private. A few kettlebells or dumbbells, resistance bands, and a Swiss ball don’t cost much and will allow you to do a wide range of fun workouts.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Exercise and diet are often the only factors people discuss when they talk about health and weight loss. However, getting plenty of rest is almost as important, and yet it often goes ignored. A good night’s sleep isn’t just good for our health, it’s also an essential tool for weight loss.
According to Shape, how much sleep we get affects how our body stores fat. We are also more likely to overeat and less likely to exercise when we are tired. Sleeping is the body’s way of restoring and is absolutely crucial to its healthy functioning. There is no point in eating well and exercising four times a week if you aren’t going to get your recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
Addressing Your Mental Health
Finally, make sure to address your mental well-being as well as your physical health. The two should go hand in hand, and you should never sacrifice one for the other. Go see a doctor if you have been overwhelmed with feelings of sadness or anxiety, and don’t make a habit of using food to soothe negative emotions, as this can lead to a self-feeding cycle of depression and weight gain.
When trying to overcome obesity, it can seem impossible to know which of the thousands of food and exercise plans are right for you. Rather than looking for a quick fix, embrace your weight loss as an opportunity to create healthy habits that lead to long-term wellness.
Kim Thomas’ mission is aligned with that of US Health Corps, and that is to triumph over chronic disease. Her mission is to advocate for those suffering from chronic disease and she enjoys writing about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.