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How to Lose Weight AND Keep it Off Forever

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Reaching your ideal weight can be tricky, but the hardest part can be staying there. Here’s what science and research tells us really works best for diabetics and longer life expectancy.

Lose Weight Slow and Steady

Don’t lose weight too quickly. If your body spots a sudden drop in calories, it thinks a famine is approaching and will do all in its power to encourage you to stock up on food and conserve energy by releasing chemical messengers that make you hungry and sluggish, warn Health Associations.

HOW to: For safe and sustainable weight loss, guidelines recommend reducing your calorie intake by about 600 calories a day and losing around 6lb a month.

Build Healthy Habits

They’re important for weight loss, but even more crucial for not slipping back into bad habits and seeing the weight return. If you build more useful habits and routines for yourself, they become an automatic part of your daily routine and lifestyle you do them without thinking, say psychotherapists and life coaches.

HOW to: Make swaps. Instead of that latte and slice of cake mid-morning, try a green tea and rice cake. If the thought of that makes you groan, the good news is that you can train your brain to enjoy healthier foods more by simply eating more of them, say doctors. Remember, habits can take anything from 18 to 254 days to become entrenched. So keep going…

Don’t Be A Martyr

If you find you really don’t like kale, don’t eat it. If you don’t want to make those healthier changes, then you won’t stick to them, say doctors

HOW to: Find healthier choices that you actually enjoy. lt’s not just about eating healthy foods, it’s about eating the healthy foods you like the most. There are plenty to choose from. It’s best not to ban any foods that you love you’ll simply crave them more. Instead, try cutting back or making healthier swaps.

Instead of that bag of shop-bought popcorn, try popping your own kernels in a lidded saucepan with a drop of olive oil. Once cooked, sprinkle with smoked paprika for a spicy flavour.

Don’t Remove Specific Food Groups

Avoid quick-fix fad diets and plans that remove or severely limit specific nutritionally important food groups, such as carbohydrates and fruit. They don’t allow you to introduce healthy eating habits into your life on a permanent basis, so they’re not sustainable in the long term.

HOW to: Rather than doing a radical diet, find a long-term, healthy way of eating that satisfies you, is affordable, suits your lifestyle and provides the nutrients you need.

Avoid ‘Diet’ Food

It’s often full of chemicals or extra sugar to make up for the calories taken out, be warned.

HOW to: You’re much better off eating real, nutritious, non-processed foods that you make from scratch. It boosts your mental strength to make healthier changes.

Get Support

It’s crucial to keep you motivated, as research has shown that you’re more likely to stick to a weight-loss plan if you can share the experience. You’re also more likely to succeed if you choose the least stressful time to start and are truly committed, say doctors. We need to have strategies for dealing with set-backs, to pick the right time and we may even need to change our thinking patterns by learning mindfulness or by trying cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)!

HOW to: Ask your GP about CBT or other therapies and get family and friends on board, too. Join a slimming club for face to-face or online advice and support.

Get Moving

Of course, exercise burns calories, but much more than that, it tones you up, builds muscle (which burns more calories) and makes you more body aware, leading to healthier long-term lifestyle and food choices.

HOW to: Make sure you get at least the recommended minimum of half an hour, five times a week, of moderately intense physical activity which leaves you slightly out of breath. The key is finding something YOU enjoy that you’re likely to stick with.

Brisk walking, dancing or gardening all count. Build it into your week so it simply becomes part of your routine. Doing an activity with friends or as part of an organised class can help this and makes it more sociable and more likely that you’ll keep going. Having a coffee before may help. Research in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that caffeine an hour before exercise can boost the rate at which you burn calories afterwards by as much as 15%.

Fast -A Little

The health benefits of giving your body a rest from the digestion process are becoming increasingly accepted, alongside the boost it gives to weight loss. Fasting can help blood and insulin levels and other metabolic processes, say doctors. Don’t overdo it.

HOW to: Simply try stretching the time between your evening meal and breakfast. Try to stop the snacking between meals on some days.

Try Yoga

Yes, really! Recent research from the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that regular yoga helps lost weight stay off. Researchers believe it’s not so much the physical energy expended, as yoga is relatively low-energy compared to other activities, but that those doing yoga develop better body awareness and stress management, leading to a healthier lifestyle and diet.

HOW to: If you’re starting out, try hatha yoga which is ideal for beginners. Vinyasa flow is a great intermediate class and ashtanga is more advanced. Other types include Bikram (done in a heated room) and restorative yoga (which focuses on relaxation). A class is great, but DVDs and books can also help.

E253 – How to Lose Weight AND Keep it Off Forever –

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