I am often asked "How can I lose weight?", "How can I lose my Belly?", and even though there is so much information out there to guide and help people achieve their weight loss goals, many of us seem to still be lost and confused as to what to do in order to lose the extra pounds.
It is no secret that in order to lose weight you must reduce your intake of calories, create a deficit in order to force your body to start burning off the extra fat you may be carrying around. But, everybody's intake needs are going to be different because everyone themselves are different. Some are more physically active throughout the day than others and some have slower metabolisms than others.
I remember a while back someone made a comment on my facebook page, the person stated, "You can still lose weight eating junk foods if you are eating less calories than you are burning". Yes, you can lose weight if you eat less calories than what your body is burning and using for fuel, but this is not by any means healthy for your body. Your body needs foods that are nutritious, that are beneficial to the healthy function of cells. You should consume nutritious foods that contain calories in the form of protein, carbs, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water: e.g plant foods, lean meats and fish. If you are eating junk foods made up of empty calories, that are lacking nutrients, you are potentially missing out of important macro, micronutrients and fibre. Since these calories lack nutrients you are more than likely to feel more hungry and therefore over eat!. Furthermore, junk foods are mostly processed foods, they contain large amounts of sugar, starch and saturated fats which have been shown to be detrimental to your health. This is not a healthy way to eat and you will only be cheating yourself.
When I'm food shopping and preparing my meals, I always think about which foods will provide my body with the most nutrients, which foods are lower in saturated fats, lower in sugar and sodium. Everyday I make a conscious decision about what I want to feed my body with. My health is very important to me, and even more so after becoming a Registered Nurse and seeing all the ailments and diseases that so many people suffer from. What I find even more heartbreaking is that a lot of this diseases could have been preventable or better managed if the person made the right choices for him/herself and took better care of themselves, their eating habits and their lifestyle.
I've been exercising for a few years now, but only started seeing positive results in my physique after incorporating healthy eating habits into my routine. By cutting out white breads, white rice, fried oily foods, reducing my sodium, reducing my sugar intake and choosing more vegetables and leaner meats, I made a huge difference in my body and in my health. I now have more energy, not only to train harder but for my daily functions. I then saw the positive changes take place and seeing results of my discipline and hard work kept me motivated to keep pushing forward. It's been over 3 years now that I have been consistently eating healthy and training, and I can't stress it enough how much better I feel and look since adapting a more healthy lifestyle.
Eating healthy to lose weight and/or maintain your weight doesn't have to be complicated! It really isn't! I have found that for the most part what has helped me get in shape and stay in shape is basically being aware of what I'm eating, consistently weight training and staying physically active. I don't necessarily count my macros or calories each day but, I read my labels and I know more or less what I'm consuming each day.
Like I mentioned earlier, you want to eat and drink fewer calories to help you lose the extra pounds and prevent weight gain. When food shopping you want to stock up on vegetables. I prefer green-leafy vegetables over the starchy white vegetables because they tend to be lower in carbohydrates. Choose whole grains, instead of white flour breads and pasta. You want to eat smaller frequent meals through out the day to keep your metabolism active. Your meals should be composed of mainly vegetables, lean proteins, whole grain starches like brown rice and oatmeal, and healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil. I always use portion control for my meals and instead of sugary or high caloric drinks, I drink water and plenty of Green Tea throughout the day. I also try my best not to skip meals. Skipping meals only makes you more hungry and you are more than likely to make poor diet choices at the next meal time because you are too hungry. I always plan ahead and eat my three main meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and have healthy snacks like 0% fat free Greek Yogurt and Almonds in between those meals.
As always, I'm going to encourage you to start weight training and exercising. For starters you can start walking, jogging, cycling, dancing and strength train at least 3x a week. Once you feel more comfortable and have learned the proper form of exercising, you can increase the intensity of your workouts and the frequency. When trying to trim down I love to incorporate High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into my weight training routine. HIIT has been shown to help in burning more fat and calories than traditional steady-paced cardio. You can do sprints outdoors or on the treadmill a couple of times a week. Check out my blog on cardio in the training section Remember, the more muscles you have the more calories you will burn. Once built, muscle is metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories than fat even while you’re at rest. It scorches through a lot more when you’re active and the more muscle you have, the more effective and efficient you become at every activity, which helps you burn more calories. But, before you start any new exercising program you may want to ask your doctor which physical activities are right for you.
So in summary, when trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight keep in mind your caloric intake, be conscious about your food choices, when in doubt choose veggies, get rid of the extra sugar, salt and saturated fats from your diet. Start weight training and being more physically active. You will start seeing positive changes take place and you will be thankful you decided to be a more healthy individual. If so many others can do it, then so too you. I'm rooting for you! :)
Good luck with your goals and stay active <3