Eat less, exercise more. It all sounds so easy.
The reality is that maintaining a healthy weight can be extremely difficult.
The causes can vary, and genetics may play a part. For example, scientists believe that people with a certain gene, called FTO, may be more prone to obesity because of a predisposition to eat high-calorie foods and feel less full after meals.
There’s also, of course, our culture. Today’s society is in many ways set up for us to consume more calories than we burn. Fast-food restaurants are ubiquitous. We can buy almost anything online, eliminating the need for calorie-burning walks around the mall.
But that’s no reason to give up. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can be hard, but it’s by no means impossible. Genetics may serve as predisposition to obesity, but lifestyle ultimately plays a more dominant role.
How much are you sleeping? One study of twins by researchers at the University of Washington found the sibling who slept less than seven hours per night had a significantly higher body mass index than the more rested sibling.
And even if you aren’t going to give up online shopping, you can control the food in your cupboard and how often you exercise.
“The key is determination,” said Angie Hill, a senior exercise physiologist at Tidelands HealthPoint Center for Health and Fitness. “It’s amazing what people can achieve if they are committed.”
Hill said people should expect bumps in the road when losing weight, especially significant amounts.
“They key is to remember that weight loss is a journey, not a destination,” she said. “The goal is to develop healthy routines that help you lose weight and keep it off.”
Here are Hill’s essential tips for healthy weight management:
- Start any new exercise routine SLOWLY. Consider beginning with 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. If you want to train with weights, start with one set of eight to 12 repetitions for each exercise, eventually working your way up to three sets for each exercise. Jumping in too fast can cause injuries. And always consult your health care provider before beginning any new exercise program.
- Expect soreness. Being sore is typically a good sign, Harris said, because it means you’ve effectively worked your muscles. The feeling should only last a few days. If the soreness lasts longer, you may have suffered an injury.
- Use peer pressure to your advantage. Join a group fitness class, find a workout buddy or hire a personal trainer. Establishing accountability is a great way to stay engaged and maintain motivation.
- Make sure you get enough sleep (see above).
- Be realistic about your potential weight loss. Although it may be accelerated at first, most people will safely lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week of effective dieting.
- Watch your diet carefully:
- Skip unsustainable diet plans or fads. “If you can’t do it for the rest of your life, you’ll most likely end up regaining any weight you lose,” Hill said.
- Count calories to measure food consumption.
- Reduce or eliminate condiment use. Condiments tend to be high in calories and fat.
- Fill up on low-calorie veggies.
- Focus on lean proteins, such as chicken and fish, instead of ground beef.
- Don’t drink your calories. A soda or two can wipe out the calories burned during a workout. Instead choose water, which can help speed metabolism.