Weight loss – how to make it sustainable

What is the best diet for losing weight? Keto? Paleo? Low-carb? Intermitting fasting? All of them will work, if you are in a calorie deficit (eating less calories than what you are spending) and if you are able to stick to the plan consistently over time. If you hate carbs the Keto or low carb diet might work for you. If you don’t like to eat when you are hungry, intermitting fasting might work for you. But for most of us these restrictive diets with a lot of rules of what you can eat, how to eat and when to eat, is not practical in our every day life and not something we are able to stick to for a long time. One thing that many people I meet who wants to lose weight often have in common is: they have tried most of these diets and failed. They have been able to stick to a diet for a short period of time but then it gets too hard. It might sound cliché but if you do want to lose weight and keep the weight off, you have to turn your diet into a lifestyle. Losing weight is not a quick fix that happens overnight but something you might have to work on every day for the rest of your life. Does that sound overwhelming?  It probably is if the diet involves only eating grapefruits for breakfast and pineapple for lunch. But it doesn’t have to be – if you don’t make many drastic changes at once, start restricting yourself or set up strict rules.

In the list below, I have listed some more sustainable ways on how to lose weight.

  1. Journaling – start by writing down all you eat. For a lot of people that start writing down absolutely everything they eat in the day get surprised how much they eat subconsciously. Whilst most of us remember the main meals we are eating, we might not remember every time we finish off the last bites our children’s or partner’s left over, every lick of a spoon or every time you reach for an extra serving of peanut butter. Getting better awareness of what you eat every day is a good starting point to assessing where it is possible to make small chances.
  2. Mindful eating – eat slowly and chew your food properly. Savor every bite and really think about what you are eating. Take a break from your day and have the meal in peace and quiet or together with someone, not in front of the laptop or television. Take your time – put your cutlery down between each bite and assess how you are feeling. Take a couple of breaths between each bite.
  3. Eating to 80% full – as part of mindful eating you will be better at assessing how you are feeling when you are eating and how full you are. Stop eating just before you get very full. Stop when you are satisfied.
  4. Plate model – control the volume you eat with using the plate model as a guide; fill up half of your plate with vegetables, 1/3 of your plate with a protein source and 1/3 of your plate with starchy carbohydrates and add some healthy fats.
  5. Use wholesome food choices most of the time – choose wholesome and nutrient dense foods most of the time that will keep you satisfied and full for longer.
  6. Volume eating – rather than having a mindset that you are removing things from your diet, think of it as you are adding things to your diet; more vegetables and more nutrient dense foods. You can have as much spinach, broccoli, peppers and mushrooms as you want. Use it and make your plate (and stomach) full.
  7. Sleep well – make sure you get adequate sleep. When we don’t sleep enough our hunger hormone is going up causing us to feel more hunger throughout the day.
  8. Move throughout the day – in addition to the regular exercise sessions try to stay active during the day. This will also balance your hormones and you are less likely to snack out of boredom. And it is the daily activities outside your normal exercise routing that will play the biggest role in your weight loss journey since this will be the easiest to increase when you are running on a bit lower energy fuel than usual.
  9. Strength train – strength training is the most beneficial training when it comes to weight loss. Muscles use up more energy at rest than fat so when building a good muscle foundation you will burn more calories even when sleeping.
  10. Eat foods that you enjoy – being in a calorie deficit can at times be uncomfortable so it is important to sometimes (if not all the time!) eat foods that you truly enjoy and gain satisfaction from. That is the only way not to constantly crave desserts and think about food.
  11. Don’t restrict yourself too much – don’t set up too many rules. Don’t say “I will never eat chocolate again”. If you deprive yourself from something you will start wanting it more. And you will eventually have it and probably in larger quantities than if you hadn’t set up a rule of never eating it. Don’t be too strict – everything is fine in moderation.
  12. Be kind to yourself – there will be days when you will make choices that don’t support your weight loss goal. Some of them might be consciously made and some of them might not. Both is ok. Forget about it and move on. You haven’t messed up and you haven’t destroyed the process. You are only human and all you can do is make some better choices tomorrow.

Make your nutritional goals a priority in your life, but don’t let them take over. It is all about making slightly smarter choices today than you did yesterday. As with every life choice you make, ask yourself the question if it makes you truly happy today and if you will continue to be happy about this choice one month or year from now. 


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