Most of us who’ve struggled with weight issues know how challenging it is to lose weight and keep it off. There are the fad diets that claim to help us lose weight and often they will work for a time, but keeping weight off is still a formidable challenge.
Some experts say that choosing an enjoyable exercise and eating healthily will get you where you want, whereas others suggest making dramatic, long-term changes to your diet. (Ultimately, how you decide to tackle your weight loss journey is up to you.) Still don’t know where to start? Here are a few options to consider.
Bariatric surgery as a viable option.
While bariatric surgery (also known as weight loss surgery) physically limits the amount of food you consume, getting optimal results means including an exercise regime. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding, Division Chief of Bariatric Surgery at NYU Langone, emphasizes the need to include exercise in your weight loss journey.
“Surgery frees [my patients] from their thoughts of food, but then the work begins,” she says. “The work is to redefine their relationship with food and in exercise and activity. Bariatric surgery gives people a jump-start to exercise. Now they can move without pain in their joints and walk without having to catch their breath.”
Depending on your individual need, your surgery could consist of one or more various options, such as the Lapband, Gastric Bypass, or Gastric Sleeve.
Exercise, but make it fun.
Signing up for a membership at your local YMCA or neighborhood gym can assist you in your weight loss and exercise goals. Hiring a trainer is also an excellent option for familiarizing yourself with gym equipment and receiving professional advice.
If you’re new to working out, find that exercise is just too overwhelming, or tedious, make it a challenge by choosing something fun that’s not seen as a “must-do.” Take up a new skill that you’ve never tried before, like mountain biking, yoga, rock wall climbing, water aerobics, or bodyboarding lessons.
Practice mindful eating.
“Mindful eating” is a weight loss technique that originated in Buddhist practices. It’s supposed to help you gain control over your eating habits. Mindful eating has been shown to promote weight loss, reduce binge eating, and make you feel healthier. It’s also used to treat many conditions, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and various food-related behaviors.
Mindful eating is about tuning into yourself and reaching a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues when eating. In order to practice mindful eating to help with weight loss, the National Institutes of Health recommend chewing slowly, listening to your body when full, distinguishing between emotional hunger and physical hunger, engaging your senses of smell, taste, texture, and flavor, and learning to deal with guilt and anxiety around food.
Manage your stress.
Managing stress and having a strong support system are important factors in losing weight and keeping it off. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, when stressed we tend to engage in unhealthy habits such as overeating. Of course, overeating isn’t the only stress-related behavior that can add on the pounds.
Stressed people also lose sleep, exercise less, eat on the run, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to gaining excess weight. Research shows that inadequate sleep can lead to weight gain, so it’s important to get a good night’s rest.
Moreover, making sure you have a good support system (i.e. a spouse, friend, partner, or even a therapist) is key. Find supportive people in your life who will provide encouragement while you make these changes. Set realistic goals, take one day at a time, and most importantly of all, be kind to yourself. Losing weight and keeping it off is a lifetime journey, but it is possible.