Obesity is a real problem in our society today. According to Stats Canada, from 2007 to 2011, between 51-52% of Canadian adults were either overweight or obese. The percentages broken down by age ranges show that the percentages are much higher as we age. I’m sure that stats for the US and other countries will show similar trends.
There’s a good chance that you’re reading this because you need to lose some weight. Or perhaps it is for someone you care about.
The problem you face, starting your weight loss journey, is that there is a lot of conflicting information out there. And you certainly want to do things in a way that is healthy.
So where do you start?
Start in the Middle
I’ve read a number of different guides in the past years. I tend to lean towards the low carb end of the spectrum (reasons why to be discussed in a future article). But even low carb proponents don’t agree on everything.
It was very confusing to say the least. But after a while I started to notice something. There are things that pretty much every weight loss regimen agreed on. And that is the middle ground.
So I say that we need to start in the middle!
So let’s look at what you can bank on:
Sugar and Refined Foods
I like how Dr. Atkins describes the calculation of the amount of refined sugars you should allow in your diet. Take a piece of paper. Draw a large circle on it. Hold the paper up at arms length. This shows you the percentage of your diet that should come from refined sugars. I know, a bit unrealistic 8=)
But the fact remains that almost every diet plan focuses on reducing (or eliminating) refined sugars and simple carbohydrates. Just get them out of your diet and out of your body.
Many plans also exclude any refined foods, and this is a good target to shoot for. Try to eat and drink products that are as unrefined and natural as possible.
Leafy Greens and Dark Vegetables
While some vegetables end up on the naughty list for one diet plan or another, they all get together to sing the praises of the leafy greens and dark coloured veggies. Especially when you get organic, unprocessed food.
Science is discovering more and more of the nutritional magic of these vegetables and you can’t go wrong when you increase the amount of them that you add to your diet.
While most weight loss plans seem to focus on either diet or exercise, they do all agree that you need both to achieve a healthy weight and to maintain it. While there is always controversy over which way is best to go about getting the exercise, the fact is that we need it.
So you need to figure out how you are going to get the exercise that your body needs.
Exercise serves 2 main purposes in a healthy weight loss plan:
- burn calories — the more calories you burn, the less you body will need to store as fat
- increase lean body mass (muscle, bone) — leads to a higher metabolic rate
There are other benefits to exercise beyond weight loss. So get off the couch and do something!
Sleep and Relaxation
Your body is a complicated and intricate system. You need to give it time to repair and regenerate. Sleep is where a lot of this takes place.
You need at least 8 hours of sleep every day… probably 9.
Now, there are people who can function with less than 8 and still be healthy. You’re not one of them (most likely 8=)
If you want to be healthy and lose weight you need to sleep enough and sleep well. During sleep your body creates and releases important hormones for your immune system, among other things. I’ve written more about that here.
And relaxation is important too. “Take time to smell the roses” my dad always told me. It’s important that we remind ourselves that life is to be enjoyed, not just survived.
Spend time with your family and friends. Enjoy your hobbies or sports. Read a book, watch a movie.
Live, laugh, love!
Cortisone is a killer.
This is the #1 hormone released by stress. When there is too much cortisone in our system for too long, things start to go screwy. And that includes weight gain, hypertension and a lot of other things we don’t want. It is known to trigger symptoms in diseases like MS.
So you need to learn how to reduce your stress, either by eliminating stress sources or by coping with it better. Preferably both.
Now, we cannot eliminate all stress. In fact, some stress is good and even necessary. What we need to do is keep the stress levels within a healthy range. Then when something happens that drives up the stress levels our body can deal with it.
I don’t know what your religious beliefs are. You may not even have any that you feel very strongly about.
But part of the makeup of a human is spiritual. And it is important to maintain spiritual health as well as physical and mental health.
Many of the cravings and longings we feel can really be attributed to a spiritual hunger. Addressing them can often reduce addictive eating habits.
So spend time in prayer or meditation. Read scriptures or inspiration books. Fellowship with others and serve people.
Where To From Here?
Now the question is “where to from here?”
I’m glad that you asked! You’ve got a starting point. Making some changes to my lifestyle in the past year have helped me start this journey. I have a long way to go. But remember:
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. — Lao Tzu
If you want to come along on this journey here’s what to do:
- Sign up for the newsletter to keep in touch
- Examine the food and drink you’ve been consuming — replace one unhealthy choice with something healthy (e.g. dump sodas and drink more water)
- Add an extra 15 to 30 minutes of exercise to your week
- Get more sleep — see a sleep doctor if you have trouble sleeping
- Get less busy
Feel free to leave a comment below to share your story or questions. Or email me.