Spring is here, and for many, this means weight loss and a healthy weight have once again become a priority.
While surveys indicate a changing attitude towards weight and a decline in “dieting,” the reality is that many of us are still pursuing weight loss goals. Whether those goals are to help manage a chronic disease, lower the risk of future health problems, increase energy or boost confidence this summer, it’s important to keep in mind some tried and true truths of successful weight loss:
- It will take time.
- Patience with yourself is a must.
- Very specific goals provide the roadmap to success.
It doesn’t end here, though. Achieving (and maintaining) a healthy weight is a journey. Along your journey, you may find your weight loss slowing or even stopping despite your best efforts. We’ve all heard of the dreaded weight loss plateau. Have no fear! These are actually opportunities to take a closer look at your diet and fitness routine and identify habits like these that may be stalling your weight loss:
- Not eating enough fiber – Fiber may just about be your best friend when it comes to weight loss, and it’s something that most Americans don’t consumer nearly enough of. Research indicates that consuming 30 grams of fiber per day can help with weight loss and more. Track your fiber to get a better idea of where you are and where you need to be for maximum benefits. Include fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds in your meals throughout the day to help reach
- Skimping on fruits and veggies – Not only are fruits and vegetables loaded with fiber; they are also lower in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. These nutrient-dense choices can help prevent deficiencies as you cut calories while also satisfying hunger with fewer calories.
- Forgetting to hydrate – We get it. On hectic days, it can be difficult to remember to get those 8 or more glasses of water in, but dehydration may be working against you when it comes to weight loss. Dehydration has been linked to feelings of hunger and can sap your much-needed energy. Find ways to up your intake with tasty sips like fruit-flavored water and herbal tea. Take advantage of the water logging feature in your tracking tools to make sure you’re on track throughout the day.
- Avoiding whole grains – At least half of your grains should be whole, according to the MyPlate recommendations, but many of us are still falling short of this goal. If you’ve hit a plateau, take a closer look at your grains. Whole grains are a great option for fiber, iron and B vitamins, all allies in your weight loss efforts.
- Getting hung up on calories – Yes, if you eat too many calories, you will gain weight, but the type of calories is also important. Eating 400 calories of grilled fish, veggies and brown rice is a little different from 400 calories of macaroni and cheese. Take a look at the foods and the calories to keep the needle moving in the right direction and create healthy habits for lasting success.
- Ignoring portions – Have your portions begun growing? Often, weight loss plateaus are a result of gradually increased portions. Revisit your servings and recommendations to ensure that you’re on track.
- Eating too little – You probably know how we feel about restrictive diets. Your body needs calories to function, and eating too few for your body’s needs will only backfire. If you’ve been cutting calories to the extreme for quick weight loss, you may now be facing a plateau as your body fights back against what it thinks is starvation. Work with a dietitian on a weight loss program that includes adequate calories and quality foods to begin fueling your body again for results.
- Forgetting to enjoy food – Research has pointed to the importance of mindfulness and savoring your food for maximum satisfaction. Take some time to enjoy your food to help satisfy cravings and find your true full point to help avoid overeating.
- Not planning – Sure, in the beginning, you planned in advance all your meals for the week ahead, but have you started to leave your week to chance? It may be time to start thinking ahead again. This isn’t just about putting together 21 pre-packaged weight loss meals from Pinterest every Sunday, either. Plan for life: meals you plan to eat at home, lunch meetings, happy hour with friends, date night dinner, kids’ birthday parties. Identifying strategies to manage your diet throughout the week without giving up your life are crucial to success.
- Focusing on just one component – It’s not carbs’ fault that you’ve gained a few pounds since college. A healthy diet without exercise won’t work forever. If you’ve only been focusing on one component of your diet or lifestyle, it may be time to think bigger. Follow a well-rounded and complete diet made up of quality foods (high in fiber!) paired with a fitness plan and strategies to stay motivated along the way.
For expert guidance, work with a dietitian in your area. Dietitians, like those here at Healthy Dining, are highly trained experts that have in-depth knowledge about food and how it’s used by the body. Registered dietitians can work with you to design a healthy eating plan, keep you on track with a steady weight loss and help you move past stubborn weight loss plateaus.