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Mar 6, 2011

Healthy Weight Loss

How to Lose Weight for Life

In our fast-food, eat-on-the-run culture, maintaining a healthy body weight can be a major challenge; for many of us, trying to lose those extra pounds is an enormous struggle. The diet industry (a billion-dollar concern in the U.S. alone) is a big part of the problem – fad diets, rapid weight loss supplements, and innumerable other programs that guarantee instant results only serve to contradict each other and confuse dieters, ultimately doing nothing to help us lose weight and keep it off.
Losing excess weight and maintaining a healthy body mass requires willpower, commitment, and a realistic approach to meal planning and exercise. The following guidelines can help to steer you in the right direction toward healthy weight loss. Remember that before you begin any diet or exercise program, it is important that you discuss your weight loss goals with your doctor.

1. Lose weight slowly

Healthy Weight LossWhile it is normal to want to lose unwanted weight as quickly as possible, rapid weight loss is rarely a good idea. To begin with, most of the weight lost in this fashion comes from water and muscle tissue, and the weight is quickly regained once the diet is over.
In addition, losing weight too quickly prevents your body from adjusting to the changes it is experiencing, and your system is unable to adapt. This causes your body to enter what is sometimes referred to as a “fasting mode,” where your system attempts to preserve as many calories as possible and prevents you from losing weight effectively.
Most physicians and weight loss experts recommend losing no more than one or two pounds per week in order to sustain the weight loss over the long term.

2. Stick to a healthy diet plan

Many dieters make the mistake of embarking on some type of fad diet which dramatically restricts the number of calories they consume. Weight loss programs such as the lemon juice diet, the cabbage soup diet, and the various low-carb diets can cause you to lose weight quickly at first, but again, the majority of the weight lost in this fashion comes from muscle and water.
The problem is that these diet plans do not provide essential nutrients that everyone needs to stay healthy and energized. People who follow one of these restrictive diets tend to feel sluggish and drained, and their immune systems cannot function normally, leading to an inability to fight off disease.
Without the important nutrients necessary for good health, you may experience irritability, anxiety, and depression. By sticking to a diet which contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and heart-healthy oils, you can be certain that you are getting the vital nutrients you need.
Avoid sugary treats and soft drinks, which often contain more than 100 calories per serving. Learn to cook healthy meals, with items from all of the major food groups, and avoid prepackaged foods that contain processed ingredients that add plenty of calories, but provide little in the way of nutrition.
Last but not least, make sure to drink plenty of water; staying hydrated keeps your metabolism running smoothly and helps you stay healthy while you slim down.

3. Think of your weight loss plan as a lifestyle change, rather than a temporary solution.

Many of us are motivated to lose weight because of an upcoming event – a wedding, a class reunion, or a beach vacation – and we view a diet as a means to an end. Dieting to lose a certain number of pounds to fit into a bikini is OK as a means to jump-start your weight loss, but as soon as you go back to your regular eating habits, you will put the weight back on.
Instead of setting short-term goals, commit yourself to making healthy food choices as a permanent part of your new lifestyle. Even if it seems difficult to adapt at first, choosing foods that are tasty and good for you will soon become second nature.

4. Include exercise as part of your daily routine.

Regardless of what some of the popular diet programs promise, you are not going to lose weight and keep it off without exercising. Make physical activity a part of your normal routine, just like showering and brushing your teeth.
Choose an activity you enjoy – otherwise you will not stick with it for long. Whether you join the local gym, take up yoga, or simply enjoy a brisk daily walk with the family dog, you will soon notice that you feel healthy, energized, and strong. With improved muscle tone, your body will burn calories more quickly, and you will be able to maintain a more healthy body weight over the long term.

5. Never give up.

Losing weight is never easy, and even the most dedicated dieter will experience occasional setbacks. Allow yourself an occasional indulgence, and don’t beat yourself up if you fall victim to a pepperoni pizza or chocolate cake once in a while. Forgive yourself, and get right back to eating the healthy foods you have learned to incorporate into your new lifestyle.

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