Healthy Lifestyle

Forget the Fad Diets. 5 Tips for Healthy, Long-term Weight Loss

If you’re like most people, you want to lose weight.

Maybe it’s a few pounds, or maybe you’ve got bigger goals in mind.

But you want to drop the weight now and keep it off long-term. Join the club.

Frustrating … and dangerous

The truth is, there are no quick fixes. Deep down, you probably knew that.

If you lose weight quickly on a “fad diet,” it’s common to gain it back as soon as you go back to your normal habits. In addition to the frustrating results, you may hurt yourself.

Some potential risks:

Rapid weight loss can be unhealthy. Our bodies are designed for homeostasis. Abrupt changes and quick weight loss can increase the risk of health problems such as electrolyte disturbances, dehydration, heart arrhythmias, hair loss and impaired reproductive systems.

Extreme calorie restriction can lead to metabolic damage. Your body needs fuel. Without enough calories, you’ll lose muscle, which is essential for burning calories. Your body will store fat, instead. Drastic calorie cutting may help you lose weight initially, but you’ll quickly gain it back because your metabolism has effectively been “turned off.”

Smarter weight loss

The better approach to weight loss is a long-term plan.

There’s no “right way” to do it. Weight-loss methods are very individual, depending upon genetics, hormones, body types and daily schedules. What works for one person may not work for the next. The common denominators are healthy eating, hydration, ample sleep, limiting stress and having an active lifestyle. You need to find the combination that works for you.

Don’t know where to start? Talk with your Methodist Physicians Clinic health care provider about your situation and goals. A dietitian can also help you form a safe, effective nutrition plan.

Tips for long-term success

So you’ve got a plan. Are you ready for this? Your attitude and mindset are just important as diet and exercise.

Whether you’re just getting started or already attacking your goals, remember: 

  1. Make up your mind. If you truly want to lose weight and improve your health, you must commit to the process and believe you can do it. Don’t beat yourself up if there’s a setback. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Stay positive!
  2. Start slow, and be realistic. Your plan has to be sustainable. Getting more exercise can mean going for a daily walk or taking the stairs when you can. Healthier eating doesn’t have to mean certain foods are off-limits. Be mindful of foods you crave and use portion control, but don’t deprive yourself. Get the snowball rolling with small changes like these, then look at tackling bigger goals.
  3. Stay accountable. Even with a good plan, it’s tough to go it alone. Find a support system or professional to guide and encourage you. Receiving positive feedback and encouragement in your weight-loss journey can make all the difference in sticking with it.
  4. Be patient. The ideal rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. I know, I know: That’s not very exciting or gratifying. When the changes come slow, many people don’t feel like they’re making progress. Trust the process! Good things take time.
  5. Enjoy the journey. Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Celebrate milestones and be proud of yourself. Share your successes with your friends and family. You just might influence them to follow your lead.

Keep fighting for your health

Old habits die hard. Some days will be tough. Remember to keep the bigger picture in mind.

Taking baby steps and keeping a positive attitude are key to being successful in the long run. Over time, you’ll feel younger, more energized and more vibrant as your health improves.