Weight loss is a highly debated topic. We can browse the internet for hours looking for the latest fads or trends that promise to make extra pounds fly away. The truth about weight loss? Healthy weight loss takes work. It requires dedication, commitment, and the acknowledgment that you are worth the effort. You are worth it, believe me. You are loved, valued, talented, and cherished by God. You are one of a kind. Today, we’ll explore three beginning steps on the journey to a healthier you.
1. Begin cutting back on junk foods.
Our bodies need a certain number of calories each day, and that number varies based on our genetics, activity level, and so forth. When we consume more calories than our bodies use, it stores the extra. You may have heard people say, “Don’t eat carbohydrates!” or “Don’t eat fat!” Both, in excess, can cause weight gain. The calories in junk food can add up quickly, sneaking on unwanted pounds.
My first tip for those starting their weight-loss journey is to slowly remove junk foods from your diet. Let’s define junk foods as foods high in fat and/or added sugar: pizza, nachos with cheese, candy, soda, etc.
Perhaps you currently eat handfuls of BBQ chips every day, or maybe soda has become an integral part of your beverage routine. Instead of quitting cold turkey, which can be tough, start bringing your consumption of these items to a place of moderation. If you currently eat a bag of chips seven days a week, consider reducing it to five. When you are comfortable at five, reduce it to three. In the same way, if you drink two sodas a day, consider drinking one. Perhaps you drink two every day but can change it to every other day. A small step is better than no step at all. If you can’t see yourself eating healthy all the time, don’t let that stop you from making more nutritious choices here and there. By slowly making changes, you can move towards a healthier lifestyle.
It doesn’t have to happen all at once. Change takes time. Choose a place to start and honor your choice. Remember: you’re worth the effort.
2. Start reading food labels.
Not all foods are created equally. The key is to know what you’re looking for and then look for it. I am not a licensed nutritionist, so please do not take this as nutritional counsel. This is simply a glimpse into what I look for at the grocery store. I figure if the food doesn’t make it into my pantry, I won’t eat it. Therefore, my first line of defense against unhealthy eating is deciding what foods go in the cart.
When reading the nutrition facts, I typically check the following things:
How much protein does it have?
Protein is good. I prefer foods with high protein content since our bodies use protein to build muscle.
Is there trans fat?
Simply put, our bodies don’t like trans fat. I never buy a product if I see a number greater than zero in this line.
What kind of fat is there?
Saturated fats: bad. Unsaturated fats: good. For more information on both, check out this article: How to Distinguish Between Saturated & Unsaturated Fats.
What are the ingredients?
If you see a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce, the food might not be as good for you as a product with a small list of understandable ingredients. Take the following two labels, for example:
Although both products have the same number of total calories per serving, there are a few key nutritional differences. The red label has more sodium, while the white label has less sodium plus the added benefit of some calcium and iron. If you look at the ingredients listed on the red label, we see that the calories come from various items. We may not even know what some of these words mean. The white label has one ingredient: “Pure Grade A Dark Maple Syrup.” The sugar listed in this product is coming from pure maple syrup as opposed to other, less natural ingredients. You may have guessed that the two labels shown are from bottles of syrup. Given the choice, which would you select as the healthier option?
Am I asking you to breakdown the full nutrition facts of every food item you buy? Not necessarily. While that is helpful, and it’s important to know what you’re consuming, it can be a big commitment if you’re just starting out. Ease your way into it. Maybe start by looking at the number of calories per serving, or the fat content, whatever you’re most interested in. You can also use it for comparison purposes, like we did above. Next time you go to purchase chips, consider two or three options and pick the chips with the best overall nutritional value. You may not get it 100% right every time, but at least you’re making the effort. Ever step in the right direction is moving you closer to your goal.
3. Incorporate exercise into your week.
The thought of exercise can be intimidating. We set a goal and throw ourselves into the new, six-day workout plan we created. Our intentions are good, but if you’re new to exercise, you may have set yourself up for failure.
Maybe going from zero to a hundred works for you, and that’s great! If it doesn’t, setting goals that are unrealistic can serve as discouragement when they’re not achieved. Start simple and build from there. Set yourself up for success. If you currently don’t exercise, starting tomorrow with a six-day plan may be pushing it. Consider committing to small increases in physical activity. Perhaps you can commit to going for a walk twice a week. After a few weeks, start going four days a week. Then, you add a hike on one day. Now, one of your walking days turns into a jog. Everyone’s at their own starting place, and that’s okay. Continuing adding more exercise into your routine, and although you start simple, it will add up to big change over time.
If you’d like to start lifting weights, consider committing to two or three days a week. When you are successful at sticking with your routine, consider adding another day or lengthening your sessions. Now, you’re burning even more calories. Remember that in order to lose weight, we need to use/burn more calories what we consume. Incorporating exercise is a great way to increase the number of calories our bodies are using.
Thank you for reading. I hope these steps help you move closer to reaching your fitness goals. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them below, and I will do my best to either provide an answer for you, or point you in the right direction.
You are worth the effort it takes to make healthy choices. You are cherished, valued, talented, and loved by God.
Lift Smart. Love Hard. Stay Positive.
***Please keep in mind that I am not a licensed nutritionist, and anything I post about food, diet, or nutrition is not to be taken as professional advice. Consider it a conversation among friends.***