January is here again, so many people will be thinking about losing some weight. It is incredible what the start of a new year can do for motivation to make a change, although some people can become disheartened when they realise there is no quick fix.
Diets or products that suggest they have an easy solution to losing weight are being economical with the truth, and even surgeries are not risk-free, and can often lead to people putting weight straight back on again.
However, that is not to say there aren’t any tips that can help you out if you are one of many who decide to shed some timber for 2016. Obesity is a risk for several chronic illnesses, and is probably second only to cigarette smoke in terms of being a danger to our health. It is linked to heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, raised blood pressure, and more. Losing just 5% or 10% of your body weight can have major health benefits.
• Find your BMI: it is always useful to know where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Your BMI is a formula that uses your weight divided by your height, and will let you know how much weight you ideally need to lose
• Examine your medication: some medications can contribute to weight gain, so if you are taking something regularly, speak to your doctor about making a change if necessary
• Come up with a plan: before you decide on your weight loss plan, you’ll need to know how much exercise and how many calories you consume on a weekly basis as your starting point. Logging a food and exercise diary can help you do this effectively, which can also help you avoid pitfalls
• Think about your goals: when you have a rough idea of what you eat and how much exercise you get, try to cut back 250-500 calories day. Losing weight slowly and steadily, around 1 or 2 lbs a week, gives you more chance of sustaining your healthy weight when you have finished dieting. This is where many ‘fad’ diets fail. Reducing your calorie intake to 500 calories a day less than you’re burning up should allow you to lose about 1 lb a week – and if you reduce your calorie intake and increase your exercise levels at the same time, you’ll lose more
• Keep a routine: rather than just dinner, plan all three daily meals in advance, and never skip breakfast
• Keep an eye on your portion sizes: the amount of food you eat is just as important as the type of food you choose. It can help if you split your plate (either literally or figuratively) with one side contain nothing but vegetables. The other half should contain a quarter of carbohydrates and another quarter of protein
• Consider your drinks: without thinking about it, many of us can consume our daily calorie count in just our drinks. Cutting out drinks with sugar or carbohydrates can have a dramatic impact on your weight loss, as can cutting out alcohol. You should however ensure you drink 6-8 glasses of non-alcoholic fluids a day (tea and coffee in moderation, and low-calorie drinks, count as well as water)
• Eat your greens: ensuring you have your five a day should help you to feel full, and the fibre will keep your bowels regulated
• Eat at home where you can: meals at home mean you can control the ingredients your food contains, but if you do end up eating out, try to choose healthy options. You may want to avoid salad dressings too, which can often contain lots of calories through carbs or fats
• Get up and be active: exercise is nearly as important as what you eat when losing weight, so don’t neglect it. Find something that you enjoy. It could be a sport, a dance class, jogging with a friend or even a wander with the family dog. Try to incorporate 30 minutes to an hour of moderate to intense activity on five days a week. You should also try and take make 10,000 steps every day
• Get a good night’s rest: a good sleep schedule can make a difference as people who sleep too little or too much can often have issues with their weight management (although we don’t really know why)
• Avoid gimmicks and weight loss prescriptions: both gimmicky diets and prescriptions are often short-term measures, and can often lead to any weight lost being regained almost immediately. It’s important to remember that if something sounds a little too perfect, it’s probably too good to be true.
You should also remember your doctor is always available should you need additional help. This can range from advice to helping you find a nutritionist, while health clubs and gyms may also be able to help on that front.
Above all, good luck, and here’s to a leaner and healthier 2016.