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How To Nurture Lifestyle Changes That Keep Off The Pounds

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Most people go through phases in life where they lose weight. But, unfortunately, they often wind up gaining it back again. 

According to long-term studies, the percentage of people losing weight over one to eight years varies from 10% to 33%. So, while some individuals see success, the majority don’t. 

Researchers are currently trying to figure out why failure rates are so high. One hypothesis is that individuals live in a toxic food environment. Even with the best intentions, it is still challenging to lose weight. 

Another theory is that the body actively works against overweight people, preventing weight loss. Hormones, neuronal factors, and psychology prevent the lost weight from staying off. 

Even so, there is a consensus that individuals wanting to lose weight must nurture lifestyle changes designed to last. Those looking to shed pounds must adopt practices they can sustain over their lives. 

Why It’s So Hard To Lose Weight

In today’s environment, losing weight is arguably more challenging than it was in the past. Whereas dieters in previous generations had a more conducive environment to leanness, the same is not true today. 

As mentioned above, the body is prone to “fighting back” against weight loss attempts. You may find that your hormones and metabolisms work against you when you diet, changing how you process energy and deposit fat. When you lose weight using these tactics, the rate at which you burn calories declines. Therefore, you might not drop any pounds even if you eat less.

Lifestyle factors, such as stress and lack of sleep, can play a role. If you don’t get as much rest at night, you are more prone to choosing harmful and damaging sugary foods offering short-term energy boosts.

Food being everywhere is another issue. Going out in public is almost impossible without encountering high-calorie, low-quality treats engineering to cause you to want to consume more. Ice cream, donuts, fast food, and soft drinks are hyper-palatable, causing excessive reward activation in the brain that makes them tough to resist. 

Lastly, losing weight can be challenging because of medical conditions such as PCOS and hypothyroidism. These conditions disrupt the normal hormonal channels and reduce energy expenditure. 

How To Lose Weight Long-Term

diet food

Even with these challenges, it is still possible to lose weight long-term. However, it requires adopting the proper approach. Going along with mainstream advice is unlikely to help. 

So what should you do instead to shift the pounds and make lifestyle changes that you can maintain long-term?

Fall In Love With What You’re Doing

The first and most essential aspect of changing your lifestyle is to fall in love with the process. How you view it will determine whether it is sustainable. 

Avoid the temptation to see a new routine as “restrictive.” Don’t look at a new diet as what you can’t eat. Instead, look at the improved food or regimen as something that will support your goals, well-being, and overall vitality. 

This mental shift might sound small, but it is critical. If you don’t make the switch, you will constantly have to fight against your unconscious. Making a healthy meal or going to the gym has a high opportunity cost. While eating a salad, you could be downing a Big Gulp or bag of donuts. 

Don’t Look At The Scale

You also want to avoid constantly standing on the scale when losing weight. Judging yourself against how much weight you are losing is not a sustainable lifestyle change. 

Moreover, your actual weight isn’t always a sound indicator of your weight loss success. It can fluctuate considerably depending on the time of day, your hydration levels, the amount of muscle you gain with exercise, and so on. 

Therefore, skip the scale entirely or only use it once a month at weigh-ins to track your progress. Don’t obsess over the day-to-day fluctuations – they don’t matter. 

Focus On Long-Term Health

Another approach to losing weight sustainable is to focus on long-term health. Rather than concentrating on losing pounds, you nurture a lifestyle to reduce the risk of chronic disease. 

Focusing on long-term health means changing your mentality. Avoid less compelling motivations like “I want to be attractive” and embrace new ones like “I want to live longer to support my family.” 

When you make this switch, it changes how your mind perceives the weight loss regimen. It makes the transition feel permanent rather than something only for the summer. 

Again, you want to avoid any feeling of deprivation. The goal should be to consume as much nourishing food as possible instead of minimizing calories or denying yourself treats. Healthy food naturally sates the body and makes you feel full. Eating plenty of vegetables and nuts will satisfy you for longer while preventing you from over-consuming at the same time. 

Make Shifts You Can Sustain

On this point, you also want to make shifts you can sustain. Changing everything about your diet and lifestyle overnight might not work if the pain of switching is high. 

For example, you will feel deprived if you transition from eating a standard American diet on a Sunday to a whole-food, vegetable-based diet on a Monday. Dramatic changes like these can feel jarring and induce feelings of extreme deprivation.

Therefore, tinker around the edges and make changes over a month or two. Some ideas for how you could smooth the transition and make dietary shifts sustainable include: 

  • Stopping eating snacks after dinner time
  • Replacing sugar in your diet with sweet fruits, like dates
  • Cooking more meals at home and stop getting take-out every week
  • Reading food labels on packets of processed foods to learn more about what’s inside them
  • Planning meals ahead of time to know what you will eat throughout the week
  • Using nuts and seeds instead of carbohydrate-containing snacks to deal with hunger pangs at work

Choose Movement-Related Activities You Enjoy

You should also pick movement-related activities you enjoy when unlocking sustainable weight loss. Don’t do what most dieters do and jog in the hot sun – that’s not fun or effective. 

For example, research suggests that sprint interval training helps people lose 40% more body fat than even the most effective strategies (like high-intensity interval training). Dieters who exercise doing something they enjoy mimic the effects of a diet that reduces daily calorie intake by 500 to 700

Look at the activities you enjoyed in the past and ask yourself whether you might like to do them again. Take up dancing, go for long rides on your bicycle, or join a team sport, like football: it doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it feels fun and you like doing it. It shouldn’t be a chore. 

If there’s nothing in your past, look for something physically active you might want to do today. Search online for ideas or join an activity your friends enjoy. 

Practice Mindful Eating

bowl of fruit

Mindful eating is another strategy for unlocking sustainable lifestyle changes. Paying attention to hunger and fullness cues can prevent overeating and feelings of deprivation. 

Being meditative while eating is a Buddhist concept. The idea is to manage the psychological reasons for overeating, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and food-related behaviors. The process involves paying attention to what happens when you eat to rediscover a natural and healthy relationship with food. 

Eating mindfully starts with eating slowly. It encourages you to savor items on your plate instead of trying to swallow everything as fast as possible. 

Mindful eating then moves on to distinguishing between hunger and non-hunger triggers. As you practice, you learn the difference between eating because you need calories and consuming food because of cravings or dysregulated emotions. 

Noticing how food affects your feelings and body also plays a role. Studies suggest that mindful eating encourages weight loss and reduces stress. People practicing it over a 12-week period can lose an average of four pounds while also improving their relationships with themselves. Seeing how healthy ingredients make you feel light and happy, while unhealthy ones cause heaviness and negative emotions, can help you sustain lifestyle changes. 

Get Support

Finally, it can be a good practice to get support to make your weight loss journey more sustainable. Professional guidance makes it more straightforward to stick with lifestyle changes. 

For example, registered doctors and dietitians can tell you whether you are consuming the right foods, pointing you in a more sustainable direction. Professionals know the regimens most likely to result in weight loss (and those that won’t). 

Connecting with others on a similar journey can also be helpful. Being around people on the weight loss path gives you encouragement and keeps you on the path to success in the first few months when it’s toughest. 

Wrapping Up

In summary, sustainable weight loss through long-term lifestyle changes is possible. However, it requires adopting proven strategies. Using willpower alone is unlikely to work. You want to fall in love with your new regimen and avoid seeing it as a form of deprivation. If you get that aspect of it right, the rest will follow naturally.

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