Losing weight is so much easier when you have the right weight loss expectations. The focus should be on the process rather than the number. Whether it’s a special event, a sexy swimsuit, or a little black dress, if there’s a deadline with a lofty pound goal, few achieve it and maintain it. Once that deadline or event has passed, the motivation to continue evaporates. It’s kind of like hiking: If you only like the view from the top of the mountain, and not the climb, then the task can seem insurmountable. But if you can go at a slower pace, enjoy the surroundings and views along the way, not only do you get to enjoy the view at the top, but you will enjoy the process in getting there. Losing weight is all about making the process fun and interesting.
Setting Weight Loss Expectations
Here’s how you can enjoy the journey of losing weight while reaching your goal.
- Know that one pound is all anyone should lose in a week. Aggressive weight loss requires too drastic a change in eating. And losing more than two pounds a week will yield a loss in muscle mass, which will slow down your metabolism. Each pound amounts to about 3500 calories. If cutting out 500 calories a day sounds like a recipe for deprivation, then aim for a half pound weight loss a week. Remember, this is not just a journey, but a destination you don’t want to leave. If the changes feel awkward or tedious, they will not stick.
- Start by knowing where your calories are coming from. Either use a tracking tool like Myfitnesspal or just track your fat grams which is much easier than tracking calories. Tracking gives you information about your food choices. Not tracking is like hiking a mountain without sign posts or cairns. It’s going to take a lot longer to get to your goal and there’s a good chance you will get lost. Tracking just fat grams makes is much simpler and helps rein in lots of calories since there are more than twice the calories in a gram of fat as there are in protein and carbohydrate sources. The American Heart Association recommends getting between 25-35% of your calories from fat. To determine what that looks like, take 25% of the average 2000 calorie diet, divide it by 9 to get about 55 gms of fat a day. The Diabetes Prevention Program set fat gram goals based on weight with a minimum daily amount of 33 gms. You want to consume at least 33 grams of fat to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs, especially vitamins A, D, E and K, but also eat enough in order to stay full between meals. It’s a balancing act.
- Know your fat culprits. The usual culprits are salad dressings, cheese, red meat, excessive noshing on nuts, chips, ice cream, full fat dairy and fried foods. Small reductions can make a huge difference. Skipping that piece of cheese on your sandwich will save you 10 gms of fat or 90 calories. Cutting your salad dressing in half by adding more vinegar, low fat milk or water can save you another 100-200 calories. Your heart will love you for reducing some of the saturated fats found in most of these.
- Eat 3 meals a day. Do not skip meals. Skipping meals slows down metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight. Skipping meals will also make you hungrier and make you overeat at your next meal. A meal can be as simple as a small low-fat Greek yogurt or a couple of Wasa crackers with peanut butter.
- Make sure you are getting enough protein at every meal, especially breakfast. Don’t waste your time on cereal unless it’s whole grain. Any other cereal will only make you hungry mid-morning because most cereals do not have enough protein and fiber. Good sources of protein are fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt, egg whites/eggs, lean meat, fish or tofu.
- Keep night snacking to a popsicle or a piece of fruit. And keep sipping water, seltzer or some nice teas. I’ve come to love my Wissotzky teas in the evening. It gives me a unique ginger flavor and warm fluids that reduces my hunger and keeps me on task.
- Keep a supply of meals you can reheat in the freezer for those stressful days when you don’t want to cook. Soups and small casseroles work really well and don’t take much time to make an extra one.
- Get family and friends on board! Find and share recipes. Get a Fitbit and have step challenges. Reach out to them when you are stressed.
- Know this is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Weight usually comes on over many years, so naturally it should come off over a slow steady period of time.
- Weigh yourself no more often than once a week. Weight naturally fluctuates depending on our activity, salt consumption and day-to-day food choices. If you are someone who gets really discouraged if the scale hasn’t moved in a week, then weigh yourself every few weeks and use a pair of snug fitting pants to be your guide.
It’s The Journey, Not The Destination
Even if you just lose 5% of your weight, that could be as little as 8-10 pounds, you will have significant health benefits with improved:
- blood pressure
- blood sugar
You will notice you move better, you sleep better and your outlook will be better. Life isn’t about getting things perfect; it’s about making things better, especially with you. One step at a time on your journey to your future destination of a healthier you.
Barbara writes a biweekly blog to help inform and empower people to live healthy lives. Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word.