Yesterday I shared my 10 favorite dietary tips that are essential for healthy weight loss and optimal wellness (If you missed it, click here). Everyone who implements these changes notes significant improvements in how they feel physically, mentally and emotionally. When it comes to weight loss, you have to remember that diet is only one part of the picture. Lifestyle plays a major role and sometimes “life” is the biggest barrier to success. Below you’ll find a list of 11 tips that go above and beyond diet. Incorporating some or all of these small suggestions will surely help you reach your weight loss goals!
1. Chew your food 20-30 chews per bite.
Did you know that you are supposed to chew your food 20-30 times with every bite you take? If you’re like most people, you likely only chew your food 1-3 times! Most people eat their meals so quickly their brain doesn’t have time to receive the signals from the stomach that it is satisfied. Slowing down your meals can significantly reduce the amount of food you eat.
2. Mealtime conversations should be light and fluffy.
Whether you’re eating alone or with family or friends, mealtimes should always be pleasant. Try to avoid hot button topics or any conversation that makes you or those you are eating with feel upset, angry, irritated or stressed. When the body is in a state of stress it automatically sends blood to the muscles and brain. If your body has this response during a meal, your food won’t be digested properly leading to physical symptoms and weight gain.
3. Manage your stress levels.
Weight gain around the abdomen is typically related to elevated or prolonged stress levels.
Increase cortisol levels (stress hormone) affect thyroid function and blood sugar levels. The thyroid is responsible for metabolism and imbalances in blood sugar leads to fat accumulation. Stress can also lead to emotional eating and sleep disturbances, which can in turn affect cravings and satiety.
There are many ways to manage stress levels, from deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation to incorporating adaptogenic herbs (botanical herbs that help the body adapt and cope with stress) and acupuncture.
4. Spend less time in front of screens.
Studies have found that the average person spends 7.9 hours a day in front of a screen whether it be a TV, smartphone, ipad or laptop. You may want to think twice next time you find yourself eating while watching TV or working. You are likely to consume a greater quantity of food when your focus isn’t on your meal. Instead of trying to multitask eating alongside your other daily responsibilities, schedule specific meal times where you can sit down, relax and enjoy your dish!
5. Prepare your own meals.
I know that for some this is easier said than done. Preparing your own meals is one of the best things you can do for your waistline and your wallet. Come up with a menu for the week and make meals that will work well as leftovers. If you’re making any soups or stews, make enough that you can freeze a batch for another day. Washing and cutting vegetables for salads or stir-fry or save you tons of time. If this task is a challenge for you, consider connecting with a whole-food meal delivery service company that will bring you fresh or frozen foods, individually portioned and ready to eat.
6. Walk daily.
30-minutes of walking every day is enough to help you lose weight and leave significant health improvements. If you have a pet, walking it 3 or more times a day for 10 or more minutes at a time will help you reach your 30-minute mark. If you take the subway, choose to take the stairs instead of the escalator, if you’re driving, park your car a little bit further so that you have to walk. Every little bit counts.
7. Increase your physical activity.
Exercise is not only important for healthy weight los but is fundamental to healthy living. Physical activity reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improves heart strength function and enhances lung capacity. It reduces stress levels, benefits sleep, manages pain and increase mood. 30 minutes of walking every day is the minimum amount of exercise you should be doing daily. If you have some barrier or limitation, speak with a professional to learn different ways you can exercise!
8. Get adequate sleep nightly.
Sleep plays a major role in weight loss and weight management. When the body doesn’t get 8 hours of sleep hormones are released that affect appetite and satiety. If you have a hard time with sleep, first ask yourself why. Are you feeling stressed out? Have you overeaten? Are you in pain? Understand the cause of poor sleep is the best way to improve it. Many patients benefit from writing their thoughts out on paper, taking supplements and getting acupuncture.
9. Sleep in colder temperatures.
I recently wrote a blog with 3 tips to boosting metabolism and one of my suggestions was the turn your temperature down. When you sleep in cooler environments your body uses more energy to perform its necessary functions. Studies have found that this one trick could substantially reduce abdominal fat.
10. Track yourself.
You need to stay accountable. Write down what you’re eating in a food diary on paper or on your phone. There are many free apps you can try that have great features such as myfitnesspal. Calorie tracking devices like the Fitbit and Jawbone will track your steps, how far you’ve walked, how many stairs you’ve climbed, calories burned and active minutes. It also tracks your sleep quality, which is fantastic if you suffer from difficulty falling or staying asleep. Calorie tracking devices often integrate with calorie counting devices such as myfitnesspal, which makes for a truly awesome experience. With my patients, I offer Weight Wellness Check-Ins. This gives me an opportunity to weight and measure my patient and evaluate their food diary. I make all my patients track obstacles so we can come up with strategies for success.
11. Find a friend.
Even though weight loss can be a very personal journey, it also requires a lot of support. If you live with someone who would also benefit from making dietary changes, try getting them on board with your plan. Often times the dietary changes you make for yourself will improve the health of your loved ones. If you’re thinking of joining a gym or taking a yoga or zumba class, see if any of your friends want to join you. Sharing your experience with a friend will not only help you both stay motivated but will help make your journey easier and much more fun!
When it comes to weight loss, there isn’t one formula that works for everyone. There are however, so many different tips and tricks you can try to enhance your goals. Of course, diet IS a huge component of healthy weight loss but lifestyle plays an incredibly important role as well. Pick one, some or all of these tips to work on and reap the rewards!