Maintaining a Healthy Weight

There are countless diet fads out there today that promise quick and lasting results.  They all tug at our desire to look a certain way.  We submit ourselves to these often unsafe requirements in a feeble attempt to lose weight.  Nine times out of ten, any weight that is lost is only regained with a few weeks of ending the diet. 

Fad dieting, crash dieting, or anything else of the sort are only short-term fixes.  They will not bring you to your healthy weight and keep you there when you finally go off the diet.  The best ways to get to your healthy weight is eat a healthy, balanced diet, exercise regularly, and understanding how many calories you need to take in each day.  Those that are able to achieve success in all three categories typically realize good health now and for years to come.

The first step you must take is to determine whether or not your weight is healthy.  Many websites and individuals will recommend calculating your BMI.  In personal experiences, the BMI number is relatively useless.  It doesn’t take into account muscle weight.  For instance, by using the BMI formula, Lance Armstrong is considered obese. 

A good way to get an idea if you are at an unhealthy weight is to measure your midsection.  You may be at an unhealthy weight and at risk of developing obesity-related illness if you are:

  • A man with a waist of 40 inches or more
  • A woman with a waist of 35 inches or more

Yet another option would be to discuss your weight with your doctor.  They will very easily be able to tell you if it’s time to lose some weight.

That being said, how does a person lose weight in a healthy, safe manner?  It’s not about the fad diets.  It’s about changing your entire lifestyle.  You can’t live the lifestyle of an overweight person and expect to be thin.  You need to live the lifestyle of a thin person.  Totally overhaul your diet and exercise program.  You may require the help of a professional in these areas if the change is dramatic.  Focus on dropping 1-2 pounds per week, not massive drops like many of the fad diets promise.  Studies have shown that individuals who slowly and steadily drop a couple pounds a week are most successful at keeping the weight off.  What good is a diet if you are only going to regain the weight when you come off of it?

Keep in mind that 3,500 calories equals one pound of bodyweight.  This means to lose 1-2 pounds a week, it will be well advised to drop 500-1,000 calories a day from your diet.  Obviously when combined with exercise, you won’t have to cut the calories as dramatically.

Preventing weight gain is an important piece of the equation.  Whether you have lost weight to reach your healthy weight or are currently overweight and want to prevent the problem from getting worse there are a few key points to realize.  As we get older, our muscle breaks down and our bodies naturally store more fat.  This slows down our metabolism, thus making it easier to pack on the pounds.  As we age, keeping our metabolism elevated should be a top priority. 

In addition, a lifestyle that includes daily physical activity is great for preventing weight gain.  Aim to engage in moderate to high intensity workouts most days of the week for roughly 60 minutes.  You will burn more calories and help keep your metabolism high. 

Monitoring your weight on a regular basis is also key.  You should own a scale and weigh yourself every few days.  If you notice some pounds starting to pack on again, you will be better prepared to take action.  Checking your weight a couple times a week forces you to face your lifestyle and will make you address the issue before it’s too late.  How many times has a 5 pound weight gain turned into 20?  Don’t allow this to happen anymore.

Healthy eating is of utmost importance when trying to lose/maintain a healthy weight.  Diet alone can positively or negatively affect the quality of our lives.  You must determine a healthy eating plan for yourself and stick to it.  You should:

  • Emphasize vegetables, whole-grains, low-fat dairy, and fruits
  • Avoid white flour products whenever possible
  • Include lean meats, nuts, and legumes
  • Stay away from the fearsome fivesome: saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar
  • Use healthy oils, like olive oil in place of unhealthy choices like butter or margarine
  • Steam, grill, broil, and bake your meals

Losing weight (and keeping it off) is no easy task.  It will no doubt require hard work on your part.  The benefits of weight loss are profound however.  Weight loss and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle results in a decreased risk for stroke, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, breathing problems, sleeping problems….the list goes on and on.  No matter how far-fetched it may seem, weight loss is an attainable goal.  Always remember, if you want to slim down and get healthy you need to think like a healthy person, eat like a healthy person, and live like a healthy person.


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