Depending on who you ask these days, losing weight is either the easiest or most difficult thing you could possibly do. Dietary supplement manufacturers will gladly claim that it’s a phone call away as long as you purchase their brand new “secret ingredient” patented proprietary formula.
Most dieticians will tell you that it takes months or even years of strict discipline and hard work. Yet the truth is actually somewhere between the two. Losing weight is indeed more than just a phone call away, but its singular purpose need not consume all of your spare time or thoughts. Rather, through a combination of proper diet (everyday diet, not an “acute” phase or trend) and modest exercise, you can find yourself easily shedding pounds without even trying.
Don’t Eat Less But Eat Better
Eating less in an attempt to lose weight is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. You will lose a few pounds initially, but the second you recover, you will very likely gain them back and possibly more due to your slowed down metabolism. You should certainly cut calories, but not nearly as much as most sources claim. Create about a 200-300 calorie deficit a day, and let exercise and proper nutrition do the rest.
Focus more on what it is you are eating. Eliminate processed and refined sugars, trans-fats, foods high in sodium and preservatives, and avoid saturated fats as much as possible. Instead, eat lots of protein and dietary fiber. Drink water instead of soda or sports drinks. Even green tea (the brewed kind rather than the store bought type that’s laden with sugar) is a significantly better option than calorie laden soda.
Exercise Either a Little or a Lot
Often times, you’ll see an infomercial for a miraculous machine that promises to help you burn fat with minimal exertion. Flip a channel forward and you’ll see a show where contestants have to go through iron-man like decathlons just to shed a few pounds. Both of these scenarios are fiction. You can shed fat through a lot of exercise or through just a little, but you should absolutely be exercising.
The amount simply depends on your fitness goals. Want to lose a dozen pounds in a month or two? Expect to hit the treadmill four to five times a week. Want to shed a few pounds gradually? Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or go on a casual walk every morning.
Don’t Stress, but be Vigilant
Recent studies have shown that individuals who are on highly restrictive diets or are too focused on weight loss actually tend to harm their progress. As it turns out, recording every single meal and ingredient that you eat into a calorie journal causes your body to release stress hormones that trigger your body to store fat.
If you let your progress, diet, or exercise regimen consume your life, you’ll have little room for anything else. Instead, stay vigilant and avoid drastic actions, but don’t stress if you falter every now and then. Avoid the cheesecake and Twinkies, but if you happen to eat one, don’t let it ruin your day.