Tag Archives: Losing Weight

How to Reach Your Weight-Loss Goal

Reach Your Weight-loss Goal
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Deciding to go on a diet is easy, but sticking to a diet is not easy! So, when facing that challenge, it is important to know how to reach your weight-loss goal.

Of course, you have to decide you want to lose weight and be committed to doing so; then, you must stick to your guns and stay motivated or the goal will never be realized.

There is no magic bullet, but there are two important tips that can help you reach your weight-loss goal.

#1 – Take It a Week at a Time

You must break your ultimate goal into smaller chunks and have bench marks that will indicate you are moving in the right direction.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Over the long term, it’s best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week.”

When you have a realistic weekly weight-loss target, you will be more confident in your efforts and you will know exactly what you are going to measure at the end of each week.

Your long-term goal may be 40 pounds, but take it “one week at a time” (1 to 2 pounds/week = 20 to 30 weeks)

In addition to choosing a healthy diet that fits your lifestyle and current health conditions, plus a solid commitment to stay with it, don’t forget to get plenty of rest and exercise. .

Image by tashatuvango
Image by tashatuvango

BUT . . .  the primary target should be the number of pounds you plan to lose each week. That target should be clear – and realistic. If it is, you should be able to stick to your weight loss program and enjoy success week after week, after week. AND, feel good in the process.

If you are not hitting your target, be willing to look closely at what you are doing, or not doing – and figure out why you are not reaching your weekly target.

Maybe the target you set was not sensible or reasonable; or, maybe you are putting too much pressure on yourself.

Honest introspection is a good way to see what you are really capable of doing and then, you can develop or choose a plan that is suitable for your unique lifestyle.

#2 – Be Patient with the Process

This is a critical factor in being successful in anything that you choose to do in life. It is also one of the hardest things to sustain. You have to be patient in order to get the things that you want.

It is easy to forget that when you gained the weight you so dearly want to lose, it did not happen all at once. It took days, weeks, months, even years for the weight to compound and settle in. That should help you understand why it will take you days, weeks, months, even years to lose it all.

Patience Is Critical

We all want to believe that there is a “quick fix” that will make it possible to radically change our appearance. We want to believe that it will only take a couple of weeks or at most a couple of months to make the weight magically disappear; but, the reality is very different.

If you have enough free time and money to hire a personal trainer who will work out with you for several hours every day; plus hire a cook to prepare and serve healthy, nutritional meals, your weight loss journey will be much easier and a lot shorter. But, those options are not within the reach of most people.

For the majority, losing weight has to be built-in to daily life that is filled with lots of responsibilities connected to families and work. So, it must be well-thought-out and planned over the long-term.

Successful weight loss comes from setting long-term goals, taking things slow and easy, and moving at a pace that fits your personal lifestyle. By spreading your weight-loss target over a longer period of time, you have time to adjust your eating and exercise habits and ease into the life changes that will move you toward your ultimate goal.

Taking it slow and easy is actually a very good thing! The slower the weight comes off, the more likely it will stay off permanently.

Setting realistic targets for a week at a time and being patient with the process are two important and helpful practices that will ensure that your weight loss journeys is happy and successful.

Does Dieting Define You?

Image by graphit
Image by graphit

Advice on how to lose weight is everywhere – the Internet, television, social media and the front cover of magazines. We are continuously bombarded with new fad diets that are heralded as the next new amazing weight loss technique. As a result it is important to ask: Does dieting define you?

We live in a diet culture. Think about your daily conversations – with friends, with family, with colleagues, and with co-workers. It is my guess that diets or dieting is frequently part of your conversations.

If you were to gather 20 random people and place them in a room together, there is a high probability that the majority would be on a diet in that moment or have been on a diet within the past year.

Dieting is the new normal. As a result, it is a factor in how people see themselves and often defines who they are.

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When dieting defines you, the way that you think about food is altered. You do not think about food choices as healthy or not healthy. It is more about what you CAN or CANNOT eat. There is no middle ground.

Chronic Dieting

Most people have no idea of how dieting has affected their eating habits and attitudes about food. Continual dieting narrows a person’s world in a very significant way.

When an individual is jumps from diet to diet, they never take the time to step back and take a look at the bigger and more important picture of life and health.

It never occurs to chronic dieters who have spent most of their life on one diet or another that an unrelenting focus on dieting is not a great way to live.

They do not realize that dieting has taken control of their lives and their general outlook. Their obsession with food – what they eat (or don’t eat), plus continual counting of calories, carbs, fats, etc. is very restricting and not much fun.

Chronic dieters usually fall into the trap of identifying foods as good or bad – a mindset of food restriction that is one of the underlying causes of failure to lose weight.

Chronic dieters tend to set unrealistic goals. Every time they start a new diet and decide to lose weight (again), they have a magical number in mind that they want to reach. They rarely take into consideration their height, bone structure, body type, and current state of their health.

The number they pick is typically linked to some image they have attached to their self-worth and happiness and all they can think about is reaching the goal.

This is a sure formula for failure as they implement one diet after another. It is also very dangerous because of the temptation to try fad diets that promise quick weight loss, which can have serious health implications.

Some dieters mistakenly believe that if they “fall off the wagon” they are technically no longer dieting. During that time, they swing the other direction and binge-eat, stuffing themselves with everything they were deprived of during the “dieting” period.

The reality is that if you are engaged in chronic dieting, your diets are open-ended and on-going. You are caught in a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting.

You simply continue to try diet after diet, hoping each time that you will reach a magical number that will make your life OK and inner happiness will finally be yours.

More about yo-yo dieting in the next post. Please join us.

 

Breakfast Smoothies for Busy Days

Image by MSPhotographic
Image by MSPhotographic

Consider breakfast smoothies for busy days when life takes over and there is simply no time to cook. Being rushed is not an excuse to let anyone go without a nutritious start to the day.

I have included some tips and a number of recipes for those incredibly busy days. The recipes can also be used for picky eaters or family members who insist they do not like breakfast.

When you need something easy and quick, breakfast smoothies are a great choice. If you have not tried this popular option, now is the time to do so. They are extremely tasty and loaded with nutrition when made from scratch.

One breakfast option is an “instant breakfast” mix, but I do not recommended them – too many additives and too much sugar!  On the other hand, when creating your own smoothies, you know exactly what is going into them. They are typically loaded with fresh or frozen fruits and other natural ingredients such as honey, and yogurt.

The bare essentials for a fruit smoothie are fruit (fresh or frozen), ice, a little sweetener (honey is best), and some type of liquid (milk, almond milk, coconut water, water). Of course, you can branch out from there.

Basic Guidelines

  • Start with a clean blender.
  • Cut up the fruit the night before.
  • Freeze some of the fruit to limit the amount of ice you need.
  • Include green, leafy or other vegetables and carrots for added nutrients.
  • Measure out the liquid you will use and place it in a specific container in the refrigerator.

The more you can prepare the night before, the quicker it will be to make your smoothie in the morning. As you know, when time is at a premium, every minute you save counts.

The liquid you use is entirely up to you – it is a personal preference. Some people like to use regular milk (my choice). Others prefer rice milk, coconut milk (or water), or almond milk. You can also use kefir whey, fruit juice, vegetable juice, or water. NOTE: Each one adds a specific flavor and consistency. 

Below are some recipes for you to try – plus you can be as inventive as you wish.  ENJOY!

Protein Shake

  • 1¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash of salt
  • Small handful of ice

Place all ingredients in the blender except for the ice cubes. Cover and then blend for one minute on medium. Add the ice cubes, cover and then blend for another minute on high.

FRUIT SMOOTHIES

Strawberry-Apricot Smoothie

  • 1 fresh apricot, medium ripe
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1/3 cup cold unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons local honey
  • Ice, enough for desired consistency

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Apricot-Pineapple-Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup apricots, washed, pitted and cut in quarters
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • ½ cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • ½ cup coconut water or unsweetened almond milk
  • Local honey to taste
  • Ice, enough for desired consistency

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves two).

Cherry-Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen red cherries, pitted
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • ½ fresh orange, pitted and cut into chunks
  • Local honey to taste
  • ½ tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • ½ cup coconut water, unsweetened almond milk, or water
  • Ice, enough for desired consistency

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves two).

COMBO SMOOTHIES

Banana-Honey Smoothie

  • 1 ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ almond milk or regular milk
  • 2 vanilla wafers
  • ¾ tablespoon local honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Large handful of ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 5 almonds
  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup milk or almond milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
  • Large handful of ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Chocolate-Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup milk or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 2-3 teaspoons local honey

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Creamy Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

  • ½ cup milk or almond milk, more as needed to reach desired consistency
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger (optional)
  • Local honey to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Orange Julius Smoothie

  • Juice of three ripe oranges
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons unrefined sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Large handful of ice.

Blend ingredients at high speed until the mixture is frothy. Serve immediately (serves one).

Creamsicle Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled, sliced, and frozen (overnight)
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 orange, peeled and cut into chunks
  • ¾ cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • Ice (optional, but nice if you like to thicker)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice and freeze the bananas overnight.
  2. Make the freshly-squeezed juice first.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  4. Blend until well combined and smooth (serves two).

NOTE: If you want a true Creamsicle flavor – omit the carrot.

Low-Calorie Energy Booster

  • 1 banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1 large tablespoon pure almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Local honey, to taste
  • 12 ounces of pure, unsweetened coconut water
  • Ice – to desired consistency

Blend all ingredients together until smooth (serves one).

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

I just found this recipe on Pinterest and couldn’t resist it – looks so good and goes with the season (Autumn) and would probably be good anytime of the day.  Hope you enjoy it. Found it on LemonTreeDwelling.com.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c. vanilla yogurt (not plain)
  • 2 oz. frozen pumpkin puree (or 2 pumpkin puree “ice cubes”)
  • 1/2 frozen banana, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I used homemade – recipe below)
  • 1 cinnamon stick for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-freeze pumpkin puree by dividing 1 (15 oz.) can into an ice cube tray and freezing. (You will have enough to fill more than one tray.)
  2. Combine all ingredients (except cinnamon stick) in blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into glass; garnish with a cinnamon stick.Makes 1 smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Spice (from Allrecipes.com)
4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
4 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 tsp. ground ginger
3 tsp. ground allspice

Closing Thoughts

These breakfast smoothies are nutritious alternatives for your family when there is so little time in the morning. They taste great and are good for you. Be aware that your family may enjoy them so much, they may become a habit. The good news is – they can make them for themselves. All you have to do is have the ingredients available.

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Motivation for Weight Loss Is an Inside Job

Staying motivated to lose weight can be challenging. Unfortunately, the only person who has control over that motivation is you. It is definitely an inside job. Others can inspire you, support you, even push you, but if you do not have good enough reasons to remain internally motivated, you will not lose weight.

If it Is Important
Image by Arya Ziai

Motivation for weight loss is not one-dimensional.  It is multi-tiered and should be approached with that in mind.  Factors, other than diet, that must be considered are:  keep the end in mind, commitment, patience, exercise, and planning. When all of those are actively in place, motivation will not be a problem.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Keep the End in Mind   – What is your ultimate goal, the reason behind your desire to lose weight? Be very clear about this. It must be specific and detailed. You should be able to see what the end result looks like. Be realistic and health focused. If you are a woman 5’9” tall, 120 pounds would be an unhealthy and unrealistic goal.

Commitment – Are you truly dedicated to the goal and committed to follow through, even when you hit snags, plateaus and become discouraged? The majority of diets fail because the individual is simply not committed enough and does not have the ability to follow through and stay with it for the long-term.

Patience – This ties in with commitment. Losing weight in a healthy way takes time. How much? As long as it takes. It should be done slowly – no more than 2 pounds a week is the healthy standard. And . . .  I guarantee that you will hit plateaus where nothing seems to happen for days, sometimes weeks. Those are the tough times when patience (and commitment) are critical! You will get through it, if you stay the course.

Exercise – This is the element than many people leave out. You need to start an exercise routine that you can life with – and expand if your health allows. You don’t have to do intensive weight lifting or strenuous aerobics, but you do have to do something – pushing to the limits of your health. A brisk one-mile walk daily is a lot better than nothing.

Start with what your body and health can sustain and build from there. Stick to the routine. Every time you complete your routine will bolster your confidence and your motivation to succeed will increase.

Planning – Plan your meals a week at a time, make a shopping list, and buy only what you need. (DO NOT keep empty-calorie foods in your house and do not impulse buy.) This will make it must easier to eat a healthy diet because your choices are made ahead of time and the temptations have much less power over you. Every successful day that passes will enhance your motivation.

Remember the last post in which we discussed how important it is to “Simplify Eating.” Keep your meals and snacks simple and as close to nature as possible. You may be groaning right now about the necessity to plan ahead. Please, try this out! It works extremely well. As you get into the swing of planning and healthy eating, you will wonder why you waited so long to do it this way.  When you are sincerely seeking answers, they will come. This is your time.

There are a few other tips you can use that may help.

Images by RandallReedPhoto
Images by RandallReedPhoto

Take “before” and “after” pictures – plus a few extras along the way.

Keep a journal. If daily journaling is not your thing, do a weekly entry. Talk about your successes, your moments of discouragement and how you overcame them, your challenges, when you slipped and how you got back on track – and of course, your progress. You may want to post the pictures in your journal.

Stay positive and focus on the end result. Avoid beating yourself up for any reason. That just makes everything worse. Pat yourself on the back and remember that you are on the road to a happier, healthier life.

Find an exercise buddy. Exercise is always easier if someone is doing it with you. Engage your spouse, a friend, a colleague at work to join you in your daily walk, or workout at the gym. If you can’t find anyone, stay true to your goal and become your own best friend and cheerleader.

Start a blog. If you like to write, this is a good one. You can take others along on your journey. You can post pictures, tips you discover, share with them what is working and not working, track your progress, etc. Have fun with it.  Be an inspiration to others!

Fast Weight Loss Is Dangerous and Short-Lived

If you are carrying around a few extra pounds or many extra pounds, having the goal to lose weight is a good thing. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is vitally important to good health and living a long life. Unfortunately, many people get caught up in losing weight as fast as possible.

Start Diet Today (Scales)
Image by Alan Cleaver

If you have been thinking along those lines, you have probably seen and even considered the ads that make promises like, “Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days.”  That sounds great and may even be possible, but the repercussions from that kind of weight loss are not good.

I can understand wanting to lose weight quickly, but it is much smarter to be realistic about how many pounds you can lose within a certain time frame and stay healthy. The general rule for losing weight safely is to no more than 2 pounds per week.

There are methods that will help you to lose quite a bit more than that – especially during the first two weeks of the diet; but . . . I do not recommend them and I am confident that your doctor would tell you the same thing.

ALWAYS talk to your doctor before you start any diet – and listen to him/her.

I am fairly certain that what I just told about 2 lbs/week being a safe weight loss number is fairly common knowledge. In fact, you have probably heard it many times; so, why would you or anyone think that losing more than two pounds per week is a good idea?

Let’s assume that for some reason your doctor says it is OK to go on such an extreme diet. In fact, he tells you that the more you can lose right away, the better. Maybe his reasoning is that you will see dramatic results and start feeling better right away; and those two factors will be great motivators and will help you stick to your diet and exercise plan.

I doubt very much that is going to happen, but let’s say it does – it is not a long-lasting solution! The weight loss is essentially temporary and this is one of the reasons:

  • A large portion of your initial weight loss will be water weight. As we all learned in one of our early science classes, the human body is mostly water. Because of that, you can delude yourself into thinking that you have lost weight simply by dehydrating yourself, which you should NEVER do. Besides being dangerous, you will gain all of it back as soon as you start drinking water again. It is possible that technically you could get away with it, but it is not a long-lasting solution.
  • The weight you lose through extreme, fast diets almost always comes back, plus some extra.

Now, having made those points, there is one specific healthy strategy that will help you drop a few pounds rather quickly.

  1. Stop drinking sugar-loaded beverages (Coke, Mountain Dew, Big Gulp, Monster Drinks, etc.). Those beverages are essentially sugar water, coloring, caffeine and additives – loaded with empty calories.
  • Coke 12 oz can                                          140 calories
  • Coke 20 oz Bottle                                     240 calories
  • Coke 1 Liter Bottle                                   400 calories
  • 7-Eleven 32 oz Big Gulp Coke               364 calories
  • 7-Eleven 44 oz Super Gulp Coke          512 calories
  • 7-Eleven 52 oz Xtreme Gulp Coke       585 calories

Losing Weight Is Quite Simple – but Is Not Necessarily Easy

In order to lose weight, you must eat 3,500 fewer calories than you need per week to lose one pound. You can either eat fewer calories; or burn them off through exercise.

Let’s look at it this way:

Eliminate 500 calories/day = 3,500 fewer calories/week = one pound lost.

So, if you want to lose five pounds in one week, all you have to do is cut your caloric intake by 2,500 calories/day for a full week!

Eliminate 2,500 calories/day = 17,500 less calories/week = 5 pounds lost.

It sounds gruesome and dangerous to me.  You must eat enough calories to sustain your body, so to cut 2,500 calories per day from you diet would be extreme. It would also be difficult to burn off that many calories (or even a portion of the number) through exercise, even if you are in good physical condition (which is not the case with most overweight people.)

For example: A 160 pound person has to jog at 5 MPH for 60 minutes to burn a measly 584 calories. Walking at 2 MPH for an hour only burns 180 calories. See what I mean? Not realistic!

The reality is that trying to lose weight fast it is not only detrimental to your health, it is very difficult.  The only way to lose weight at a healthy pace is through a diet of healthy foods and a steady regimen of exercise. It is not necessarily easy, and will undoubtedly take far more time than you want it to; but it is worth it, once the pounds start coming off and staying off.