How To Lose Weight And Keep It Off Naturally

by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist


Published in Lifestyle and Health on 28th December, 2018


Understanding Why People Regain Weight

Putting on weight is a natural part of life, and you don't have to feel bad about it. Likewise, however, if you find that there is a lower weight you feel more comfortable at or a medical professional has told you that losing some weight would be good for you, there is no shame in wanting to lose weight.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to understand why people tend to regain the weight they lose, and it usually boils down to one simple reason: their overall lifestyle is unsustainable. In order to lose weight and not put it all back on, you need to create a new lifestyle that suits your goals but is achievable for you.

lose weight

We can all do intense workouts every day for a little while, but eventually, you are going to get tired and end up slacking. Implementing a regular workout routine that fits in with your schedule is much more likely to stick.

Stick To A Routine

Maintaining a good routine is vital not only to lose weight but to keep it off. But what does a good routine look like? In truth, there is no one size fits all weight loss routine that works for every person out there - which is why you have to create your own through trial and error.

A good routine is something that you will be able to stick to and works to create a life you enjoy and doesn't just feel boring and repetitive. We can get stuck in a rut of creating routines based on what we think our lives should look like rather than what our life actually is.

Think about what is actually possible for you? Do you really think you'll be able to wake up at 5 AM every day to go to the gym, or would it be better to work out in the evenings when you have more time? Creating a routine that works for you and then sticking to it is what matters - even if it's not as rigorous or strict as other people's.

Maintaining this routine will help your body get used to the idea of exercising regularly, sleeping well and working at certain times. Our bodies thrive on routine, it's built into our biology. By sticking to a routine you will gradually start creating good habits that will stick with you for life and become second nature eventually. This ensures that you will be able to lose weight and keep it off for a lot longer.

Monitor Yourself

Monitoring yourself is another important aspect of maintaining weight loss. Without keeping track of your progress, how are you supposed to know what to work on and when to celebrate. As mentioned, many people tend to lose weight and then forget all about the work they have put in for so long, and start to slack off.

Monitoring your weight/progress on a regular basis can help to keep you on track and maintaining your weight loss. Studies have also found that people who regularly weigh themselves tend to be more mindful of their eating throughout the rest of the day and eat less or healthier as a result.

Of course, this is a personal choice, you don't have to monitor your progress by using the traditional "step on a scale" method, or at all if you feel that you have a tendency to become obsessive about your weight. For a lot of people, their weight isn't truly reflective of how much progress they've made, and instead, things like cardiovascular performance, blood pressure, and body image is a much more accurate and body positive way to monitor themselves.

Remember that there is no one healthy weight to fit everyone, so if stepping on the scale isn't working for you, you don't have to do it.

Eat Mindfully

The practice of mindfulness can extend into our eating habits and weight loss journey. How many times have you sat down to eat with your phone in your hand or the TV on in front of you? Mindful eating can not only reduce the amount you eat, but change what you are eating and help you to feel fuller for longer.

When we eat "mindlessly" we tend to just throw food into our mouths without thinking too much about it, enjoy it for half a second and then it's gone and we're onto the next task. Sometimes we don't even realise what we've eaten or how much of it.

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This means our brains don't really get the time they need to process and prepare for eating and don't release some of the essential hormones that tell the body that you've eaten and you're satisfied. Rushed eating can also affect your digestion, leading to bloating and weight gain.

When we eat mindfully, however, our sole focus is on eating for satisfaction and fulfillment, and our focus is on what we're eating and how we're eating it, with no distractions. We tend to make better, healthier choices regarding what's on our plates, and take longer to think about and eat our food.

This means the brain not only has plenty of time to create a healthy meal but can also prepare for it, so your brain and digestive system are working to process the food in the best way possible - leaving you feeling fuller for longer and preventing snacking later in the day.

Sleep Well

If you're a chronic under-sleeper, you may need to re-think your sleeping habits, because how much sleep we get and the quality of sleep we do get can drastically affect our weight and ability to maintain weight loss. As a matter of fact, sleep deprivation is one of the major contributors to unexpected weight gain and a major risk factor in a number of health problems such as heart disease and diabetes type 2.

Weight gain from sleep deprivation is largely attributed to an increase in a hormone called ghrelin, also known as the "hunger hormone" that stimulates your appetite. When we don't get enough sleep, our levels of ghrelin go up and we're not only likely to eat more, but we're also likely to eat more junk foods high in carbs and sugar.

Further research has also shown that people who sleep less or who don't sleep well tend to have lower levels of leptin, which is a hormone that helps you to control your appetite.

It's not just how much you eat either. When we're sleep deprived our muscles don't work as well and we have a lot less energy which means we tend to exercise a lot less and the exercise we do take part in tends to be less effective.

All in all, getting enough quality sleep time is essential to losing weight and maintaining that weight loss, so start going to bed a bit earlier.

Reduce Stress Levels

Reducing your stress levels is easier said than done, but it is important - especially if you want to lose weight. Aside from the multitude of nasty effects that stress can have on your mental and physical health, it can really affect your weight and metabolism too. In fact, chronic stress can even cause you to put on weight regardless of your diet or exercise regime, purely by increasing the levels of cortisol in your body.

Cortisol is a hormone that is closely related to stress and generally results in weight gain due to its ability to slow down the metabolism, increase your appetite and increase the amount of fat your body stores around your stomach.

Obviously, it's not possible to be completely chilled out and zen all the time, everyone will experience stressful situations at some point in their life, and the key is to know how to deal with them so that your health and weight loss journey isn't derailed. If you are experiencing a lot of stress in your life at the moment, start to think about how you can combat it.

That could mean taking off some extra commitments and relieving pressure on yourself, or developing a better routine and incorporating more self-care habits into your day-to-day life. Find what works for you. A lot of the time, stress-busting and weight loss go hand in hand - exercise works well not only to lose weight but also to reduce stress, as does getting enough sleep. As such, you may find that your weight loss efforts help to reduce your stress naturally.

Don't Get Too Serious

Setbacks, "failures" and mistakes are inevitable in any weight loss journey. No one has ever set out to lose weight or maintain weight loss and managed to do it perfectly. You will probably have weeks where you don't work out and feel like crap, or where you binge on junk food in front of the TV, and this is okay. Make sure that you are living and enjoying your life while still putting an effort to get healthier.

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Our bodies naturally fluctuate for countless reasons, and just because you've gained a bit of weight does not mean you've "failed". Weight loss and maintenance is not a linear journey, there are lots of ups and downs and this is important to keep in mind whenever you feel like you've hit a bump in the road.

Plateaus, weight gain and unexpected illness can trip you up, but that doesn't mean you're starting from scratch. Try to remain objective and not take yourself too seriously - as long as you're making an effort, that's what counts.

Get Support

Having some support in your endeavors to lose weight and keep it off is essential if you want to succeed. If you're surrounded by people who bring you down and encourage you to binge eat or stay at home when you could be at the gym, you're much less likely to succeed.

On the other hand, if you've got people around you - even if it's just one or two - you believe in you and motivate you to work for your goals, you're chances of actually achieving them increase exponentially.

Having a support system can help to hold you accountable when you mess up, inspire you to work harder, advise you when you're struggling and reduce anxiety when it comes to exercising or eating well. A few studies have even shown that when we live with people who have healthy eating habits, we're much more likely to eat better ourselves, so try to get your partner or family members involved too.

Of course, if this is new to you, you may not be surrounded by understanding, supportive people, and that's okay. There are other places to find these people. If you can't find anyone in real life to buddy up with, go online and look for online forums and community support groups - there are tonnes out there.

Stay Active Throughout The Day

Many people in full-time employment spend the majority of their day sitting down working at a desk and this can lead to a variety of unwanted side effects. When we're busy at work sitting at a desk, our metabolism slows down while our tendency to snack goes up. Sitting down for long periods of time can lead to muscular problems such as backache and muscle wasting, weight gain and issues with your cardiovascular system.

To avoid this and maintain weight loss, it's recommended that you try to stay as active as possible throughout the day. Of course, if you have a very active job this may not apply to you, but if you are one of the many sat at a desk for most of the day, see what you can do to use your body more throughout the day.

Common suggestions include getting up and stretching at least every hour, taking a walk for your lunch break or buying a step counter to track how many steps you get every day (and then trying to beat your personal best every week).

Keep Up The Exercise

It might sound obvious, but keeping up a regular exercise routine is essential whether you want to lose weight or maintain it. Regular exercise not only helps you to burn off excess calories, get better sleep and feel better but also increases your metabolism (the rate at which you burn energy) over time. This is especially important if you are looking to lose weight since having a fast metabolism can make all the difference.

If you've already lost as much weight as you want to and are looking to maintain your weight, the key is to burn as many calories as you consume. Studies have found that people who exercise for around 30 minutes every day are much more likely to maintain their weight than those who don't, or who only exercise once or twice a week, so exercising often may also play a role.

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Of course, exercise isn't the only factor, you need a healthy diet as well, but it is important and can help to improve your overall quality of life and longevity in the future.

Try Strength Training

When looking to lose weight, some of the most highly recommended exercises are cardio-based such as running, swimming, dancing and biking. These are useful in helping you to lose weight and increase your overall fitness levels but with that weight loss, there will often be a loss in muscle mass too.

A loss in muscle mass can be problematic when it comes to maintaining weight loss or losing more weight because your metabolism will slow down too, so you'll find it easier to put on weight. This is why you should try incorporating strength training into your routine if you're looking to maintain weight loss or lose weight.

This doesn't necessarily mean you have to start lifting kettlebells at the gym, there are lots of different types of strength training just as there are lots of different types of cardio. The traditional route of lifting weights doesn't work for everyone, so look around at different options such as bodyweight exercises or resistance training.

Studies show that a combination of strength training and cardio after weight loss is optimum if you want to maintain weight loss, but you don't have to be hitting the gym every day. Most research shows that you only need to incorporate strength training twice a week in order to receive the benefits.

Eat Plenty Of Protein

Protein is an important element of any diet that can be easily overlooked, especially when it comes to weight loss. We tend to focus on our carb or fat intake and forget about protein. As a matter of fact, however, increasing your protein intake can be greatly beneficial if you're looking to lose or maintain weight.

Protein has been found to increase levels of hormones that induce feelings of satiation, or in other words, it keeps you feeling full and happy - while reducing hunger-inducing hormones. This means you're much less likely to snack, especially on junk food. Not only that, but protein takes a lot more energy to break down during digestion, unlike sugars and fats, meaning that your body burns more calories during digestion.

Current research suggests that a diet where 30% of your calories are coming from protein is the optimum level to aim for if you're looking to maintain weight loss. If this sounds like a lot, remember that there is protein in a lot of different foods such as beans, grains, and other legumes.

Hydrate

If you struggle to get enough water in a day, make sure you put it at the top of your new year's resolutions. Not only is water vital for our survival, but it can drastically influence weight loss and our overall well being. Oftentimes our body has a thirst for water but tricks us into thinking that we're actually hungry whereas, in actual fact, all we need is a few glasses of water. Because of this, it's a good idea to make it a habit to drink at least two glasses of water before and after every meal.

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One study showed that participants who drank water before a meal have an average calorie reduction of around 13%, which is substantial.

It's not just about your calorie intake, however, water also affects how your body processes those calories. Water has been shown to increase your metabolism, meaning you burn through energy faster and lose weight quicker (or are less likely to put it on). This is vital for anyone looking to maintain or lose weight.

Eat Well

What does "eating well" really mean? It looks different to everyone, but eating well generally means eating a healthy balanced diet, and keeping your food intake regular.

One thing that we can all do to improve our diets is to incorporate more vegetables. The average person simply doesn't eat enough vegetables, and there is a lot of research showing that eating your vegetables is one of the best ways to help control your weight.

They are low in calories, meaning you can eat more without gaining weight, and they are stuffed full of nutrients, so you get a well-rounded nutritious meal, without having to eat so much that you put on weight or feel bloated. Many vegetables are also high in fiber, which contributes to feelings of fullness and prevents hunger while improving digestion. If you're not sure where or how to start, try to incorporate at least two different vegetables into every meal you have.

If you're concerned about you're eating but aren't sure what to do or how to change it, try tracking your food intake. For those of us that struggle with junk food cravings or binge eating, tracking how much food you eat and what you're eating can help you to remain mindful of your consumption and better control your food intake.

There are lots of different apps and tools you can use to help you quickly and easily log what you've eaten and calculate its nutritional value. This can be especially helpful if you're trying to lose weight as you can see if you're meeting your nutrition, calorie and exercise goals.

And Lastly: Don't Fad Diet

A "fad diet" refers to a diet that is primarily designed for short-term implementation, and generally isn't sustainable or particularly healthy. Diets such as only eating a certain small number of calories a day, or skipping lot's of meals or only eating certain types of foods can all come under the umbrella of "fad diets". If you're looking to make a permanent and sustainable change to your weight, you need to find a healthy diet that works for you, rather than dieting on-and-off whenever you feel like it.

Working to create healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle will serve you much better in the long run than anything else.

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