Weight Loss for Life
There are many ways to lose weight, but it is not always easy to keep the weight off. The key to successful weight loss is making changes in your eating and physical activity habits that you can keep up for the rest of your life.
Can I benefit from weight loss?
Health experts agree that you may gain health benefits from even a small weight loss if:
- You are considered obese based on your body mass index (BMI).
- You are considered overweight based on your BMI and have weight related health problems or a family history of such problems.
- You have a waist that measures more than 40 inches if you are a man or more than 35 inches if you are a woman.
A weight loss of 5 to 7 percent of body weight may improve your health and quality of life, and it may prevent weight-related health problems, like type 2 diabetes. For a person who weighs 200 pounds, this means losing 10 to 14 pounds. Even if you do not need to lose weight, you should still follow healthy eating and physical activity habits to help prevent weight gain and keep you healthy over the years.
To lose weight you need to take in fewer calories than you use. You can do this by creating and following a plan for healthy eating and a plan for regular physical activity. You may also choose to follow a formal weight loss program that can help you make lifelong changes in your eating and physical activity habits. It may be hard to stick to a weight loss “diet” that limits your portions to very small sizes or excludes certain foods. You may have difficulty making that work over the long term. Instead, a healthy eating plan takes into account your likes and dislikes, and includes a variety of foods that give you enough calories and nutrients for good health.
Make sure your healthy eating plan is one that:
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
The Nutrition Facts label from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is found on most packaged foods. It tells you how many calories and how much fat, protein, carbohydrate, and other nutrients are in one serving of the food.
Regular physical activity may help you lose weight and keep it off. It may also improve your energy level and mood. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, experts believe all adults should be physically active. Some activity is better than none, and individuals who engage in any amount of physical activity may gain some health benefits. The majority of your physical activity should be moderate to vigorous in intensity. However, adults should aim to include muscle-strengthening activities as well.
You can be physically active every day for one extended period of time, or you can break it up into shorter sessions of 20, 15, or even 10 minutes.
Try some of these physical activities:
- Walking (15 minutes per mile or 4 miles per hour)
- Aerobic exercise classes (step aerobics, kick boxing, dancing)
- Energetic house or yard work (gardening, raking, mopping, vacuuming)
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