Weight loss refers to a decrease in an individual’s body weight as a result of either voluntary – dieting and exercise – or involuntary – illness and disease – circumstances. Weight loss occurs when there is a decrease in body fat but in the case of extreme weight loss, proteins and nutrients can also be depleted to the detriment of the individual.
In order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat and your basic bodily functions such as breathing, cell manufacturing and body temperature maintenance assists you with this by using around 50% to 75% of your caloric intake. When your body uses calories to perform basic bodily functions, this is known as Resting Energy Expenditure (REE) and factors that affect and determine your REE include gender, age, genes and body composition. You can alter your REE and burn calories through exercise and studies have implied that to lose weight in a healthy manner, you should lose no more than 1-2 pounds per week through positive and healthy methods.
When it comes to losing weight, each individual will have to cater to their specific needs but there are general things that most people can adhere to in order to reach their optimal weight.
A is for Attitude – there is no magic cure for losing weight and part of the journey is highly psychological. Maintaining a positive attitude and not becoming disheartened in the event of a slip-up will help you stay on course.
B is for Breakfast – the name of the first meal of the day derives from the phrasal verb “break fast”, which means to break or stop the fast you endure whilst sleeping. Breakfast has been hailed by many as the most important meal of the day and though this is disputed, it never hurts to satiate those cravings and boost your energy levels in the morning with some toast, a cup of yogurt or even a banana.
C is for Counting Calories – calories are in all foods and drink we consume so if you’re serious about losing weight, you need to get into the habit of reading food labels and possibly starting a calorie journal to keep track of how many calories you are consuming for each meal.
D is for Drink Water – aside from the fact that drinking water is an all-around healthy habit, consuming water can reduce the feelings of hunger; so staying hydrated throughout the day can only help you on your weight loss journey.
E is for Exercise – it comes as of no surprise that exercise helps to burn calories. However, the gym is not for everyone so find a sport, activity or exercise regime that you know you will enjoy and add it to your weekly schedule.
F is for Fiber – fiber, which is found in fruits and vegetables is a natural weight loss aid as they create a sense of fullness in the stomach when consumed because they have a high-water content and they are naturally low in calories.
G is for Gum – chewing gum not only promotes oral hygiene but it tricks your body into thinking that you are eating and thus, reduces the urge to eat.
H is for Habit – weight loss is about cultivating healthy habits and routines to help you on your journey to achieve that optimal weight. It may be difficult at first to form a habit that promotes weight loss but once you’ve settled in, habits can quickly become second nature.
I is for Investment – contrary to many advertisements, weight loss does not happen overnight. Losing weight is an investment and depending on your goals and circumstances, you may want to invest in things like a pedometer that tracks your steps if you’re exercise regime involves walking a certain distance a day; or investing in a gym membership if that is your go-to method of exercise.
J is for Journal – it’s much easier to track the progression of your weight loss journey if you keep a record. Try to get into the habit of writing down your meal plans, your calorie intake, your goals for the week etc. There’s nothing more satisfying and motivating than to tick something you want to accomplish off a list.
K is for Keep at it – you might slip up or have one too many cheat days but don’t let these fallbacks discourage you from continuing your weight loss journey. If you fall, pick yourself back up and try again.
L is for Low blood sugar – there are times in the day when your blood sugar will drop and the craving for something sweet will kick in. You can keep these cravings at bay by stocking up on healthy snacks and eating multiple smaller meals during the day instead of three big meals.
M is for Mindful – be mindful of your physical, mental and emotional health whilst on your weight loss journey. Don’t try to bite off more you can chew and set yourself realistic achievable goals to avoid disappointment.
N is for No Nighttime snacking – studies have shown that eating before bed or having a midnight snack can lead to weight gain. Try to avoid this by eating a proper dinner or snacking on something with low calories if the urge is too great.
O is for Optimize – take stock of your surroundings and the people in your environment and try to minimize any temptation that will lead you astray. For example, clean out your kitchen cupboards of any junk food and replace them with healthy snacks to avoid giving in to the temptation of snacking on empty calories.
P is for Protein – protein is another natural aid for weight control. Try to extend the feeling of fullness by making meals with lean meats, nuts and low-dairy products.
Q is for Quitting bad habits – weight loss can be hard but it becomes even more difficult if you cling on to habits that promote weight gain. Try to do a spring clean of bad habits that can hinder your weight loss journey.
R is for Reward – it is human nature to want to be rewarded for a job well done. Treat yourself to something when you’ve reached a certain goal or milestone as this provides you with motivation to continue losing weight.
S is for Support – there is no shame in wanting to lose weight and the journey can be made easier if you have the support of family and friends. They can help keep your on track and pick you up if you’re having a bad day.
T is for Take care – know your limits and don’t push yourself to do more than you can. It’s not healthy physically, mentally or emotionally.
U is for Understand your weaknesses – knowing your weaknesses and addressing them can only help you in your weight loss journey. Write down your weaknesses and then try to come up with solutions for each one.
V is for Volumetrics – when you’re meal planning, try to incorporate foods high in volume or water such as fruits, vegetables and soups as they are packed with nutrients but low in calories.
W is for Water – water has zero calories but promotes a feeling of fullness, which reduces the urge to overeat.
Y is for Yogurt – yogurt not only promotes gut health but it also makes for a good healthy alternative snack.
Z is for Zeal – take pride in your weight loss journey and boost your motivation by rewarding yourself when you’ve reached achieved a goal or objective.