3 Tips for Pursuing Health through Weight Loss

With a proliferation of scientific and popular media denouncing long-term weight loss as all but unachievable, it can be easy to lose faith in the possibility of a permanent slim down. If you are on a weight loss journey, keep these three tips in mind to stay on track.

Recognize your habits.

Cleanses and detox kits can be beneficial in kick-starting some new, good behaviors, but don’t rely on them to reinvent your lifestyle or personality. Becoming familiar with habit loops (a cue followed by a behavior, followed by a reward) can help you acknowledge and break everyday habits that need to change, or form new habits that will improve your health. When the habit is triggered, or cued, the brain automatically commences the routine behavior. After the behavior, a ‘reward’ solidifies the formation of the habit loop for the future. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, says the habit loop is “‘a great reason why changing a habit on a vacation is one of the proven most-successful ways to do it … If you want to quit smoking, you should stop smoking while you're on a vacation — because all your old cues and all your old rewards aren't there anymore. So you have this ability to form a new pattern and hopefully be able to carry it over into your life’” (NPR).

Be realistic with yourself and begin recognizing habit cues in your life. If stopping all of your bad habits cold turkey is overwhelming, pick one or two things to focus on first. It’s important to take a good hard look at your behaviors over time so that you can plan for future hurdles in your weight loss journey. Your good habits will insure that, even if you slip up from time to time, you will still make progress toward and ultimately maintain your weight loss goal.

Find a strategy that works for you, and stay motivated.

The best strategy for your weight loss depends on your personal preferences and your body. If you have found an approach that works for you, maintain it and tweak it as your needs change.

In a study called “Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance,” published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists studied members of the National Weight Control Registry and found that those who successfully maintained their weight loss “report[ed] engaging in high levels of physical activity (≈1 h/d), eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends” (AJCN). The study also notes that maintaining weight loss for 2 – 5 years leads to a large increase in the likelihood of longer-term success, suggesting that maintaining weight loss may become easier with time.

Reducing stress, cooking more whole foods, finding a physical activity you enjoy, and journaling your progress have all been touted as keys to weight loss. From online communities to exercise programs at the local gym, there is an abundance of support and resources available. Once you find a strategy that is successful for you, it’s important to maintain those behaviors over time.

Be realistic and compassionate with yourself.

Your happiness is the ultimate consideration in your weight loss journey. If you make a mistake or fall off the wagon, practice forgiveness with yourself and learn ways to prevent similar mistakes in the future. When you understand your own limitations, you can anticipate stumbling blocks and plan accordingly. Aim for a lifestyle that will give you the deep, lasting joy you deserve.

Erica is passionate about family, health, and language. She is excited to combine her enthusiasm for words and wellness by blogging for The Healthy Grocer, where she also works as Assistant Buyer and Supervisor.

Websites referenced:

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.long

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/05/147192599/habits-how-they-form-and-how-to-break-them

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