Staying in shape is not about maintaining an attractive figure or body. It has more to do with being healthy and fit. People who are serious about fitness follow a diet coupled with plenty of exercise. Everybody is in a hurry these days and no one has time to eat, drink, sleep or exercise right.
These vital activities are cut short to make more time for other chores. This means that our body is not getting the attention it deserves. All those sandwiches and sodas on the run had to go somewhere, which is why you cringe every time you step on the scales.
There are so many diets that are being marketed as weight loss miracles. While some of them actually work, no one tells you about the side effects. Dieting has to be done very carefully because the human body, at no point in time, can be deprived of nutrition.
Unfortunately, adults and youth alike are quick to trust these celebrity-endorsed diets. Many of them can result in eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. It is important to learn how to diet in as healthy a manner as possible.
- First, calculate your BMI or Body Mass Index. In simple terms, this calculation tells you how much fat is present in your body. BMI helps determine whether you should lose weight or not. It helps you to arrive at how many pounds (approximately) you need to shed.
- Next, do enough research to point you in the right direction. Do not attempt following fad diets like the Master Cleanse and Cabbage Soup diet. They may help you lose weight very quickly but are not recommended as healthy diets. Talk to a dietitian or a food nutritionist. They will help you understand which food is likely to ensure that your body stays fit, strong and healthy at the same time.
- Keep a food diary. Dieting is an ongoing process. It does not stop once you lose weight. You have stay in shape thereafter. Making a note of what you eat on a daily or weekly basis will point out what your weak spots are and where you need to cut down. It will also keep track of all the healthy food choices you make as well as the portion sizes you eat.
- Employ effective ways to beat stress. You would be surprised how many people use comfort eating to cope with pressure. No amount of ice cream, chocolate chip cookies or sugar donuts is going to help you feel more relaxed. A stroll in the park, swimming, sitting down with a book or listening to some good music, working on a hobby or playing a favorite sport – all of these are inexpensive but effective ways to unwind.
- Don’t crash diet. Never embark on a diet that makes drastic changes quickly. You must ease into it by making small changes gradually, say once a week. This will give your body time to adapt to the new meal plans and exercise regime. Do this and you are more likely to stick to the diet, long-term.
- Eat healthy portions. I know a lot of diets push the 5 small meals a day mantra but that does not necessarily work for everyone. If you are eating 3 meals a day, that’s fine. Don’t eat till you feel heavy but eat enough so that you don’t feel hungry. Make sure your meal choices are healthy and portions, filling. While you don’t need to smear butter on your baked fish, replace that with a second helping of vegetables or salad or yogurt.
- Exercise regularly. There is a reason why everyone refers to exercise as the universal panacea to weight loss problems. This is because no matter how much you diet or how healthy it is, you are not going to lose significant weight without exercising. Walk, swim, jog, cycle, jump rope, go to a dance class or workout at the gym – whichever works for you but make sure your workout incorporates cardio exercises.
- Drink 2-3 liters of water everyday. Water not only keeps your body, hydrated and your skin, looking clean and fresh, it also keeps you from feeling hungry outside of meal times. We often crave food at odd hours or when we have been extra active during the day. Keep these cravings at bay by drinking plenty of water all through the day. If your stomach is full, you are not going to be thinking of food.
- Change to healthier alternatives. Experts around the world are screaming out the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet. This means switching from refined cooking oils to extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is heart healthy since it reduces LDL (bad cholesterol levels) and increases HDL (good cholesterol levels). Eat less refined sugar and switch to organic honey. Use whole-wheat flour instead of refined flour. Eat fresh food instead of packaged and frozen products, which contain all kinds of flavoring agents and preservatives.
- Cut back on alcohol and do away with smoking. Since even the cigarette packs themselves carry statutory warnings, it is safe to assume that everyone knows that smoking is bad news. A lot of people feel that smoking kills your appetite and helps reduce cravings. There are ‘0’ benefits to smoking, period. A little wine is good for the stomach but keep it to just a little. Beer bellies are quite common among people who favor the malt beverage.
- Ensure you get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. Eat food that is rich in calcium, potassium, folate, monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamins. This will ensure that your body is getting all the nutrition it needs to maintain bodily functions. Eat food that contains these nutrients or take supplements (after consulting with a physician).
Tips and Warnings
- Dieting the healthy way is possible only when you are prepared to be patient. Results are rarely seen overnight so be disciplined and persevere till the changes become apparent. The most important change will be when you feel healthier.
- Don’t blindly follow any diet you come across. Try and understand what you intend to accomplish before plunging into it.
Photo Credit: Healthyprogram.net