In the busyness of everyday life, it’s easy to neglect your fitness level – until you painfully admit you simply HAVE to do something.
Using a three-part strategy is the best method to achieve the healthiest body you can have. Weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet are equally significant to reach optimal fitness.
What is weight loss?
It’s quite simply reducing the overall mass of your body. Weight loss is usually pursued to improve one’s appearance or promote fitness and health. Ideally, you want to lose fat, not muscle or water weight.
What are the reasons to consider weight loss?
Healthy weight is a crucial part of good health. When you’re overweight, everything feels harder. Excess weight puts added stress on joints and organs.
Need some motivation, other than your appearance, to pursue weight loss?
Even losing a small amount, 5 to 10 percent of your weight, can dramatically improve health. Consider the areas VeryWellFit.com says weight loss will improve:
- Decreased risk of diabetes
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improved cholesterol levels
- Decreased risk of heart disease
- Decreased risk of certain cancers
- Improved mobility
- Decreased joint pain
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Decreased risk of stroke
- Reduced back pain
- Decreased risk or improvement in symptoms of osteoarthritis
- Decreased risk or improvement in symptoms of sleep apnea
What are the ways to lose weight?
Losing weight isn’t simple. If you hope to lose weight, and more importantly keep it off, you need to stop relying on short term solutions. It’s going to require a lifestyle change with reasonable modifications you can keep in place. Eating healthy plus activity of various kinds is the best approach.
Starving yourself for a while to lose a few pounds is not only unhealthy, it practically guarantees you’ll put that weight back on, and probably some extra, and lose muscle tissue along the way. Then your body’s calorie needs are even lower, and you’ll gain weight more easily. It’s a vicious cycle that leads to yo-yo dieting.
“Yo-yo dieting is a cycle of short-term changes in eating and activity… it leads to only short-term benefits. After losing weight, appetite increases and your body hangs on to fat. This leads to weight gain, and many dieters end up back where they started or worse.”
What are the best ways to fight body fat?
Fad diets don’t work. They can even create health problems later. Pills that “magically” burn fat are ridiculous. Intense calorie restriction fails because you feel miserable.
A combination of nutritious foods along with regular exercise is the most effective way to attain physical fitness.
What is physical fitness and its connection to weight loss?
MedicalNewsToday.com explains that physical fitness is defined as a set of attributes that people have, or achieve, that relates to their ability to perform physical activity. This goes beyond being able to run fast or lift heavy weights.
Physical fitness is beneficial in five areas.
- Maintaining physical fitness to help prevent some diseases.
- Body composition (and thus better appearance) can change without changing weight.
- Athletes’ hearts show different changes dependent on their chosen sport.
- Muscle strength increases by fiber hypertrophy and neural changes.
- Stretching to increase flexibility eases a number of medical complaints.
Since muscle strength increases with fitness, along with the percentage of muscle tissue, your body naturally burns more calories.
What are some regular exercises you can do to help with weight loss?
Exercise is an important component because it not only helps you burn calories while you’re doing it, but exercise increases muscle mass, and people who have more muscle burn more calories, even at rest.
Make it your aim to exercise in three key ways:
Regular aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, bicycling or swimming. Thirty minutes or more most days is a great goal to have, but start out slowly if you’ve been inactive. If you can’t do it all at once, break it into manageable chunks of time. Try new forms of exercise to find one you like.
Strength training, i.e. weightlifting, offsets muscle loss that tends to happen as we age. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat, so it factors heavily into weight loss. Strength training makes you feel stronger in general. Aim for two times a week, and start with small to moderate increases in weight and repetitions.
Lifestyle activities and enjoyable pursuits. Moving around more burns up extra calories. What can you add to your daily life, or do differently? Park further away from stores or the office. Use the stairs instead of elevators, do your own housecleaning and other chores rather than paying someone.
Take a walk instead of sitting down after dinner, or take a stroll during your lunch break. Extra walking anytime helps burn calories and get you in better shape. Your heart and lungs will thank you, too!
There’s an emotional component to losing weight and improving physical fitness. This is something you’re doing for yourself, to live your best life – not for anyone else. Compile a list of reasons that you can review regularly.
Allow time each week for stretching and/or yoga to help you relax, relieve stress, and increase your flexibility and balance. The two are not synonymous. Stretching should be approached carefully and with guidance, so you don’t hurt your joints, tendons and ligaments.
Yoga exercise involves some stretching too, but it focuses on breathing, helps to improve posture and overall appearance, and may help you sleep better at night. There are even yoga exercises for slimming your face!
What is a healthy diet?
Aside from weight loss, a healthy diet promotes “good” cholesterol and decreases triglycerides. This lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.
It may appear complicated to determine what a healthy diet looks like. Nearly every week there’s a new controversy over what foods are healthy and which are harmful. Are fats good or bad? Should I eliminate carbs from my diet? Is fruit a good choice, or is it too high in natural sugars?
It helps to hear the opinions almost every top nutritionist and doctor do agree on. Prevention magazine explains:
- A diet that’s high in fruits and veggies, whole grains, low- or fat-free dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts, with moderate consumption of alcohol and lower intake of red/processed meat, refined grains, and sugary foods and beverages, with the focus on foods, rather than just fats, carbs, and protein in isolation.
- Eating without regard for the environment is a recipe for disaster.
- Paleo, vegan, low-carb, low-fat, and Mediterranean all seem very different on the surface. But there’s one similarity: They all recommend eating whole, unprocessed foods, with a primary focus on plants.
- Don’t radically shift your way of eating every time a flashy new study comes out. It takes years of cumulative evidence before scientists can make a solid nutritional recommendation about certain food.
- Instead of simply saying, ‘drink less soda,’ say, ‘drink water instead of soda.’ What we consume and what we don’t consume both contribute to health. When you eliminate a certain food from your diet, what you put in its place matters a lot.
- Individuals benefit from becoming knowledgeable about the origins of their food, the conditions under which it is produced, and its impact on the health of the planet. Learn where your food comes from and you’ll be motivated to choose more healthy options.
Everyone agrees that sugar and overly-processed foods are bad news. Cut back and eliminate these wherever possible. Unprocessed food that’s close to its natural state is the best.
It can be hard at first to break bad habits, but your body (and your emotions) will make the adjustment over time. You need to accept the fact that you just can’t eat anything you feel like, and remain healthy and trim.
Choose a time in the evening which is the latest you allow yourself to eat in order to break nighttime snacking. Consider asking a friend to keep you accountable – and maybe work together to establish healthy eating and exercise as a team effort!
Are there any healthy diets you can follow to lose weight?
The healthiest diets are ones that emphasize lifestyle changes, not overnight fixes. The goal is a lifetime habit of healthy eating, so even the idea of “going on a diet” isn’t ideal. Learning which foods are good for your body, and which ones are not, should be the biggest determining factor in what you consume.
What about a “detox” diet?
Detox diets are generally short-term and are supposed to eliminate toxins from your body. Typically a detox diet involves some fasting, then a restricted diet like fruit, vegetables, fruit juice, and water, but may include teas, supplements, and colon cleanses or enemas.
The idea is that your organs get a break by fasting and that various toxins will be eliminated through the feces, urine, and sweat. There’s controversy over these diets though, because research is lacking and studies are sketchy.
If for some reason you feel the need to detox, it’s probably better to undergo a period of “clean eating” instead, where you only consume real food (not processed foods) and make much of the food you choose plant-based.
Is a low carb diet a good idea?
The Mayo Clinic suggests that some low-carb diets may have health benefits beyond weight loss, such as reducing risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
It limits carbohydrates — grains, starchy vegetables and fruit — and emphasizes foods high in protein and fat. You should check with your doctor before starting any weight-loss diet, especially if you have health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
What about the wildly popular keto diet?
The ketogenic, or keto diet is a high-fat, very low carbohydrate diet. It’s supposed to force your body to use different energy pathways so that the body burns fat, entering a state called ketosis.
On the positive side, ketosis is thought to have brain-protecting benefits for those with epilepsy, and it may have benefits for blood sugar control among those with diabetes. But there’s little evidence that it’s effective or safe over the long term.
Very low carbohydrate diets tend to have higher rates of side effects,and may cut out many nutrient-rich fruits, veggies and grains. That’s a concern for long-term heart health.
By now it should be clear that achieving body goals is far more than getting thin. When you have a broad, well-rounded approach that combines exercise with healthy nutrition, you’ll increase your ability to fight fat, feel better, and enjoy a more satisfying quality of life.