What does it take to lose weight?


lose weightIn the 16 years that I have been involved in Fitness and Weight Loss Management, I have helped hundreds of people to get in better shape and to lose weight.   Over this time I have also heard every excuse imaginable.  As in life, in order to be successful, you will need good teachers, knowledge, a plan, goals, and support.  However, the most important ingredient is commitment.  Unless you are 100% committed to doing the hard work necessary, it will be impossible for you to reach your goals.  Once you have decided that now is the time for you and that you will do what it takes, you need to trust and follow the advice of your coaches and make the changes in your lifestyle that includes changes to your diet and regular exercise.

The 6 key elements to losing weight:
1.  COMMITMENT IS # 1 – You need to decide that now is the time!  This is by far the most important element in weight loss. Without commitment, you won’t be successful.   You need to make changes in your schedule that makes exercise and a healthy diet a required part of your day.  If for one day you don’t do as well, don’t stop…start again the very next day!

2.  KNOWLEDGE – Understanding why will help you make better choices and succeed with your weight loss plan.  Do your research or talk to a professional successful in the weight loss management field.

3.  FIND THE RIGHT PLAN – There are numerous plans out there which can be confusing.  Choose one with proven credentials that has been shown to work. Don’t go for a “quick fix”, which may show results in the short term, but instead choose one that will give you results lasting a lifetime.  Find a plan that incorporates both fitness and nutrition and will educate you about making the right decisions.

4.  COACHING – Just like in school or in athletic competitions, you will benefit from having a teacher or coach to give you the right information and guide you to success.  That is why working with a Fitness Coach/Personal Trainer/Nutritionist is so important.

5.  SET GOALS – Set both short and long term goals and most importantly, measure your progress.  You simply cannot improve what you are not measuring.  Not setting goals is like going on a trip without a destination.

6.  SUPPORT – Surround yourself with people who support your efforts.  Better yet, find someone who would also benefit from weight loss and go on the journey together! Don’t keep your journey a secret.  Let everyone know and you’ll be surprised at the support you will receive!

Diet, the key element in your weight loss

Diet will account for about 70% of your success. While it is possible to lose weight by just dieting, you will not lose weight by just exercising. The best results are achieved if you combine a weight loss diet with a regular exercise routine.

We are a society of excesses!  Not only are we eating too much, we are also eating too much of the wrong things. A few years back, the most popular diets plans promoted “Low Protein – High Carbohydrate Diets,” which was then followed by “Low Fat – No Fat Diets.” What people did not realize, was that all these diets were loaded with sugar and starches such as white flour products, white rice, and potatoes. As a result, people got heavier, often gaining an average of eight to ten pounds in the form of fat. People were less healthy and had more medical problems, such as heart problems, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, etc. Meals got larger and contained a higher number of calories while the quality of foods decreased.

To lose weight is not rocket science. You have to eat fewer calories than your body consumes. Calories are the amount of energy in the food you eat. Some foods have more calories than others. For example, foods that are high in fat and sugar are also high in calories. If you eat more calories than your body uses, the extra calories have no choice but to be stored as excess body fat.

It’s simple math:

A pound of fat is about 3,500 calories. To lose one pound of fat in a week, you have to eat 3,500 fewer calories (that is, 500 fewer calories a day), or you have to “burn off” an extra 3,500 calories. You can burn off calories by exercising or just by being more active.

The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat fewer calories and be active. If you cut a mere 250 calories from your diet each day and exercise enough to burn off 250 calories, that adds up to 500 fewer calories in one day. If you do this for 7 days, you can lose one pound of fat in a week.

What is a safe amount of weight to lose?

Many experts believe that you should not lose more than three pounds per week. However, this guideline is dependent on the amount of weight you need to lose.  If you are losing more than three pounds in a week, you may be losing water weight and lean muscle mass instead of losing excess fat.

How often should I eat?

Most people can eat three regular meals and one snack every day. The three meals should be about the same size and should be low in sugars, starches and fat.  Some people benefit more if they eat 5 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day, about two to three hours apart.

Be sure to always eat breakfast and don’t skip meals. While skipping meals may help you lose weight in the beginning, it fails in the long run. Skipping meals may make you feel too hungry later in the day, causing you to overeat at night. Skipping meals, especially morning meals, may cause your metabolism to slow down, resulting in burning fewer calories at night time.

After about a month of eating a normal breakfast, lunch and a light dinner, your body will adjust.

Why are foods high in sugars and starches bad for you?

Sugars and starches are high in calories and they increase the amount of insulin in your bloodstream, eventually causing weight gain in the form of body fat.

What is insulin?  Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin balances the blood sugar.Insulin affects weight gain in the form of fat. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fuel. When you eat carbohydrates, they break down into glucose, causing your blood sugar to rise. Insulin is then produced to balance the blood sugar, by carrying the glucose to the cells where it will be burned off for energy. When the cells are saturated with stored sugar, the remaining sugar in the bloodstream is converted to fat and stored for later use. Cells become saturated when a high number of calories from carbohydrates are consumed and there is not enough physical activity to burn them.

There are good and bad carbohydrates: Good carbohydrates consists of things like vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts.  Bad Carbohydrates are sugars and starches

In order to maintain a low body fat, we need to keep insulin levels low by taking in less sugar and foods that increase the sugar in your bloodstream. This all comes down to the glycemic index of foods.

Glycemic Index

Glycemic index is a standard scale used to measure the ability of carbohydrate-containing foods, to elevate blood sugar and insulin levels. Sugar and starches are two of the most powerful carbohydrates. These are rated at a high level on the glycemic index.

To read more about Glycemic Index go to:  https://fitnesspto.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/insulin-major-factor-for-weight-gain/

Is Alcohol bad for weight loss?

Alcohol is high in calories, only second to fats. One gram of alcohol has seven calories.

The biggest problem with alcohol is that it has the highest glycemic index rating, thus making it the number one enemy to weight loss.

What is so bad about high-fat foods?

Foods high in fat are usually high in calories as well, which could lead to unwanted weight gain. Consuming too much saturated and trans fats may increase LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) level, and increase your risk of heart disease. The USDA suggests that you eat no more than 20 grams of saturated fat per day, and that you limit the amount of trans fat to as close to 0 grams as possible.

It is important to remember that some fats can be beneficial to your overall health. “Good” fat, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are found in fish, nuts, and seeds.

What are empty calories?

Some foods are referred to as having “empty calories” because they add lots of calories to your diet without providing much nutritional benefit. Some examples are sugar-sweetened drinks such as fruit juice, fruit drinks, regular soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened or flavored milk and sweetened iced tea. These drinks can add lots of sugar and calories to your diet.

Staying hydrated is important for good health.  To reduce the calories and sugar in your diet, substitute water, zero-calorie flavoured water, non-fat or reduced-fat milk, unsweetened tea or diet soda for sweetened drinks. Talk with your family doctor or a nutritionist if you have questions about your diet or healthy eating for your family.

Why are Low Calorie Diets not good for weight loss?

“Starvation Diets” or “Quick Fix Diets”, will provide you with less energy and you will most likely gain any weight loss quickly, once you have stopped.

Low Calorie Diets may help you lose some weight quickly, but they won’t help you to keep it off. In fact most of the people that used Low Calories Diets gained all, if not more, of when they returned to a regular diet because these diets are not sustainable.

Low Calorie Diets will slow down your metabolism by auto-destroying muscle mass.

With muscle tissue burning 90% of the calories we consume, it follows that if we have more muscle, we will automatically burn more calories.

Will diet drugs help?

Although diet drugs may help you lose weight at first, they usually don’t help you keep the weight off and may have damaging side effects. Most diet pills have not been tested by the Food and Drug Administration, which means you can’t be sure if the drugs are safe. Taking drugs also does not help you learn how to change your eating and exercise habits that you can follow for a lifetime. Making lasting changes in these habits is the way to lose weight and keep it off.

Can I trust nutrition information I get from TV, newspapers and magazines?

Nutrition tips and diet information from different sources often conflict with each other. You should always check with your doctor first. Also, remember: there is no “magic bullet” when it comes to nutrition. There isn’t one single diet that works for every person. You need to find an eating plan that works for you.

Stories from people who have used a diet program or product, especially in commercials and infomercials, are advertisements. These people are paid to endorse what the ad is selling. Remember, regained weight or other problems that develop after someone has completed the diet program are never talked about in those ads.

Simply put, successful weight control will only occur when you are motivated to change your life-style.  There are no hard or fast rules for improving health.  We simply must keep trying to improve each week, each month, and each year.  It’s where we’re going that counts, not how long it takes to get there.  The prize is improved health.

By Florin Olteanu – Certified Fitness & Nutritional Specialist

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