Most of us are aware of how challenging it is to lose weight (let alone keep it off). For years, health researchers have warned us of the low rates of weight loss success suggesting that approximately 2- to 5-percent of weight losers will successfully keep off the pounds. The diet and fitness industries continue to successfully exploit our hopes (and sometimes desperation) for thinness, but what if there was more to weight management than diet and exercise? What if there were other lifestyle habits that we could implement that would help? Would that be something of interest?
If we were able to create a new lifestyle, perhaps weight management would become second nature…
Just one night of sleeplessness can motivate us to reach for more coffee and snacks during the day. It can promote us to forgo exercise because we are too tired and stop at the drive through for dinner for the same reasons.
2. Eat Veggies
Although we are aware of the importance of eating vegetables many are challenged with adding them to their meal plans. From reducing the chance of chronic diseases like cancers, diabetes, and heart disease to providing us with the nutrients we need to function optimally, vegetables should be a major part of any diet. The Canada’s Food Guide suggests that half of our plate should contain vegetables to gain the full health benefits. For many, the thought of eating half a plate of veggies at every meal is enough to stop eating altogether.
3. Physical Activity
Exercise Psychology Researcher has suggested that over 60-percent of those workout ‘newbies” will fall off the proverbial treadmill within 6 months of beginning their exercise program. Gym parking lots are full and the line-ups to the cardio equipment long, but by Valentine’s Day, the crowds start to thin out.
Even though exercise physiologists have suggested that exercise alone isn’t an effective weight loss tool, when integrated into a larger weight management plan, it can make a significant difference.
How many times have we found ourselves angry, sad, or bored only to reach for the chips or other munchies as a way of coping with those emotional times? Emotional eating is one of biggest culprits to creeping obesity. For those that use food to cope, it can serve as a (short term) source of happiness and peace, but lead to long-term health consequences.
5. Social Environment
Our social environments can include those people in our families, at work, and other social clubs and opportunities we take part in. For example, if we belong to a hiking group we are more apt to be physically active and supported by our peers. Conversely, if our social circles reside at the local pub it not only negative influences our food choices, but keep us from getting the activity we need.
Our parents, peers, and colleagues have great influence on the way we think and behave.
6. Screen Time
Many of us have no idea how much time we spend in front of the TV or computer. According to a report issued by eMarketer in 2013, the average American adult will spend over 9 hours peering at a TV or digital screen (with the digital screen taking the lead of over 5 hours per day). Not only does this behavior take a toll on our posture—it can most certainly negatively affect our health and weight gain overtime.
7. Interest or Hobby
One of the main sources of our overeating and snacking come from sheer boredom. Whether it is watching TV, long road trips, meetings, or dull desk work, we tend to curb our feelings of boredom by finding something fun to munch on. Additionally, there is a strong relationship between screen time and snacking making it safe to assume the more we watch, the more we snack, and the more we weigh.
Having interests such as reading, gardening, recreational pursuits and the like, turns our attention to something other than food.
8. Be Critical
Critical thinking can simply be defined as the ability to objectively analyze and evaluate something without bias or judgment. How many of us jump on the next fitness and diet trend because it showcased on our favorite talk show? How many of us reach conclusions without assessing both sides of an argument? Critical thinking is a necessary skill (and practice) than will enable us to make informed and healthy choices.
As it applies to weight management, we need to engage in critical thinking before we make decisions on our exercise programs and menu plans. Although there are some effective and healthy programs for weight loss offered, there are as many that can hinder our health and leave us sick, ill, and injured. If something appears too good to be true we can be assured it is.
9. Shift Your Attitude
Linda Bacon, researcher and author of the book, Health at Every Size, presents her argument for shifting attitudes towards health rather than weight loss. Research has demonstrated that those that exercise and eat for extrinsic rewards (i.e. looking good naked) are less successful than those who do it for more intrinsic motives (i.e. feeling more energetic and healthy). Although, after years of focus on weight loss, it may be difficult to make the leap, it is a necessary step we need to take if we want our success to last for a lifetime.
In addition, if we are approaching our lifestyle change with the belief that we will eventually fall off the wagon because of our history of failure, we will probably fall off the wagon. While it may be true that we have tried year in and year out to lose pounds, this time will be different because we are approaching the same goal with a new plan. It is important to change our story and not replay the same “failure” messages in our heads. Our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs will make a big difference—positive or negative.
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