Back to my roots and just in time for the New Year comes one more list explaining how simple it is to manage your weight, on paper that is. Actually, it is simple however it is not easy. Losing weight is hard enough but keeping it off is even harder. Any diet that deprives the body will yield results in the short term. By deprivation, I am including the full encompassing definition not merely cutting back on a number of calories.
Allof the things on this list may help to maximize your weight loss efforts and in some cases make enough of a difference to restart a stalled weight loss attempt. However, your issues may require more than what is addressed on a general list, such as this one. Weight management is challenging and many factors affect it. This list is a reminder, a review of what you already know. Start slowly, one small change at a time equals success. I’d like to say that weight loss should be a bonus to treating yourself with the love and respect you deserve. If none of these things work for you in terms of losing weight, fuck it. Keep doing them because they are good things for us to do. You are so much more than a number on a scale.
EAT REAL FOOD.
It’s real simple, if it comes from an animal, plant, tree, or the ground then go ahead and eat it. If it comes in a box, bag, jar, can, or wrapper, proceed with caution or better yet eliminate altogether.
BUY ORGANIC AND GRASS FED WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
It may cost you more but not always. Location has a lot to do with it. Search out and visit farms and farmer’s markets if they are available to you. Go later in the day for possibly better savings since no one wants to haul their produce back home. Learn to negotiate pricing by buying in bulk if feasible. You need to have a clear picture of what and how much you will realistically consume in a period of time. Joining a CSA may be a useful idea if the farmer’s practices work with your food lifestyle. Buy local and in season as a general rule throughout the year. Buying bigger cuts of meat directly from a farm may yield real savings throughout the year. Investing in a separate freezer may save you money over the long haul and cut down on the need to over shop. Even if you do not have access to markets and farms in your area, making the best choices at your local supermarket is a solid start.
COOK EVERY NIGHT.
I do mean every night because this factor alone makes a huge difference. It is not that difficult and you can rotate in a couple of home cooked “fast food” type meals each week. When you cook at home you are in control of ingredients, nutrients, and portions and you will greatly minimize your meals away from home. Occasional eating out or ordering in is OK as long you think of it as a treat, not a regular weekly event. If cooking at home is not possible on a regular basis, for instance because of job travel, there are ways to leverage your time away from your own kitchen such as planning ahead and scoping out the nearest grocery stores, stocking up on healthy portable items, insisting upon a room with a mini fridge, and deciding where and what to eat at restaurants ahead of time. Planning ahead is the most critical factor for success.
SLEEP AT LEAST 7 TO 8 HOURS A NIGHT.
Turn off the electronic devices at least an hour prior to hitting the sack and get them out of the bedroom or at least as far away from you as possible. Easier said than done, I know all too well. How about a pair of blue light blocking glasses or app like flux? Turn off the TV and try picking up a book before sleep, the ones with actual pages made of paper. Make your room as dark as possible. Keeping your bedroom on the cooler side (around 68 degrees is optimal) will improve thermoregulation, allowing for better sleep.
MAKE TIME TO MEDITATE.
Making time for short sessions where you simply focus on your breath, even for 2-3 minutes can yield enormous benefits. Breathe in for a count of 7, hold your breath for 7, and release slowly for 7. Do this 5 to 10 times. Do it your own way. You can even sit and focus on nothing but your breath. This alone is surprisingly challenging. Yeah, there are apps for meditation but I honestly cannot recommend any of them unless this is the only way to get you to sit and reflect, then by all means app away.
EXERCISE 5-6 DAYS A WEEK.
Do what you love. Do what fits into your lifestyle. Most importantly, be consistent. Integrate movement into your everyday life if setting aside a separate training session is too much. Sometimes it can be. Learn proper form and technique for whatever you choose to do. Learn it according to the way your body moves and not some cookie cutter guru’s method. Cross training or picking several activities in a week may help with motivation, improves recovery, and lowers your risk of injury.
ELIMINATE OR GREATLY MINIMIZE GRAINS, SUGARS, and COMMERCIAL DAIRY.
Grains, sugars, and dairy are our biggest dietary obstacles though it doesn’t stop there. If you cannot imagine your life without bread, ice cream, cake, or a bowl of your favorite cereal, start cutting back slowly at first, maybe one category at a time. Try to remove these foods for two to three weeks. Keep a journal and record how you feel. If you give this a fair go, the cravings will stop. Make sure you are fully aware of all the places these things can hide. Processed food is not your friend and neither are restaurants. Sorry to say but even the conscientious ones are in it first and foremost for their bottom line. It may take more tweaking over time to find the diet that works best for you and even that will change over time. You will eventually adapt to any change you choose to make, even the ones that seem impossible. SlimFast is never the answer.
GET NATURAL SUNLIGHT DAILY.
Ditch the sunblock for 10 minutes a day and sunbathe. You cannot go wrong from ditching your commercial, chemical laden sun blocks entirely and subbing in natural barriers to too much sun exposure and yes, clothing and shade do count. Unless you are very sensitive you won’t burn in this amount of time. The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D your body will make. If you are concerned about sensitive areas such as the face, chest, and back of hands, apply a natural, chemical free sunscreen to those areas only. Most Americans are vitamin D deficient. Those of us who live in colder climates may go months without exposure to natural sunlight. Have your levels of this critical hormone tested and consider supplementation if you are low. There are also light boxes available for purchase that may be helpful during the darker months.
BALANCE YOUR HORMONES.
One of the sneakiest reasons for an inability to lose weight despite doing everything right is a hormonal imbalance. This is especially true for women, whose hormone calibration system is far more sensitive than a man’s. Men are not off the hook and anytime you witness moobs or a 9-month belly on a man, is a clear sign of hormones gone wild. Eating a proper diet will go a long way towards hormonal management. So will getting regular exercise. Minimizing exposure to toxins also a must. Check air quality in the home. A water filtration system is important. There are a variety of price points. Stay away from buying and consuming water in plastic bottles. The water is of dubious quality and the bottles alone are a main source of endocrine disruption. Track your symptoms and talk to your doctor or practitioner if necessary or relevant. It may take a while to figure things out but keep at it.
STAY OPEN TO CHANGE AND POSSIBILITY.
Practice mind flexibility. Rigidity is death. Awareness is step one. Change is the only constant so you may as well learn to get used to it. Negative and pessimistic thinking can easily infiltrate our personalities making it hard to break the cycle. We are hardwired as humans to look for the negative in our problems and even in our relationships. Working to counteract this knee-jerk response is important. Check in with someone you trust to hold you accountable, tape affirmations to your mirror, hire a short-term cognitive behaviorist. Find what works best for you.