When growing a garden, seeds are planted, cultivated caringly and watered frequently for weeks before the buds begin to sprout from the ground. Seeds aren’t expected to appear overnight — it takes time for plants to build a good root structure and blossom into sturdy plants.
Yet, too often, individuals set high expectations for weight loss and fitness management, and anticipate even faster results. We need to approach our individual weight loss goals much as we would a garden: understanding that with the right care and cultivation, we can achieve success over the long-term.
The root of every successful weight loss program is a simple formula: regular exercise and a healthy, low-calorie diet. We can make healthy lifestyle changes permanent by following some simple strategies.
Make a commitment
Permanent weight loss takes time and effort. Make sure when you set a long-range goal that you’re ready to do so for the right reasons. No one else can make you lose weight and get fit. In fact, external pressures from those around you can often impede your progress. You must undertake diet and exercise changes to please yourself and no one else.
Set realistic goals
When you’re considering what to expect from your new eating and exercise plan, be realistic. Healthy weight loss occurs slowly and steadily. Aim to lose one to two pounds a week. Make your goals process-focused, such as exercising regularly, rather than outcome-focused, such as losing 50 pounds.
Seek emotional support
Only you can help yourself lose weight by taking responsibility for your behavior, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Seek support when needed from your partner, loved ones and family. Choose people that want the best for you and who will encourage you.
Enjoy healthier food
Adopt a new eating style that promotes weight loss, including lowering your total caloric intake. One way to lower the calories you consume is to eat more plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety.
Get active to stay active
Dieting alone can help you lose weight, but adding exercise can nearly double your weight loss. One of the best ways to lose body fat is by getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week. Adding muscle through weight training also can speed up your metabolism, causing you to burn more calories all day, every day.