Some of us seem to be born with a high metabolism that keeps going no matter what. (Not me.) Many of us only put on weight gradually as we get older. And then there are people like me who’ve struggled with maintaining a healthy weight for their whole lives. In my case, chronic knee problems means that exercise hasn’t always been my friend. I’ve tried many diets over the years, and learned a lot along the way about developing lifelong healthy eating habits and making healthy lifestyle choices.
But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. And I know I’m not the only one who’s spent much of their life trying to maintain a healthy weight.
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Many people find it extremely difficult to shed unwanted fat. Finding a weight loss method that suits your needs can be tricky. No matter what method you choose, consistency and dedication are key for achieving long-lasting results.
This is a collaboration post, and is meant for informational purposes only. I am not a medical doctor, so please consult your own healthcare provider before beginning any new weight loss plan or exercise regime.
Seven Weight Loss Methods: Which is Right for You?
1. A weight-loss-focused diet plan
If you choose to lose weight by modifying what you eat, doing it safely and responsibly is key. Nutritionists and health practitioners recommend making gradual adjustments to your diet. In fact, getting a referral to a nutritionist from your primary care provider is a good place to start.
A nutritionist will probably have you log your food intake (what you eat, when, and how much) for several days, or even as long as a week, before your appointment. The nutritionist will also see if you have any other health concerns (like high blood pressure or high cholesterol) that tweaks to your diet could help alleviate. He or she will then work with you to develop a custom eating plan that will help you meet your overall health goals, including achieving a healthy weight.
No nutritionists in your area? Then try being your own nutritionist at home. You can start by eliminating unhealthy items and replacing them with healthier food. (Hint: the less processed food you eat, and the more food you cook for yourself at home from scratch, the more likely you are to avoid a lot of unhealthy additives like extra sugar, salt, and refined carbohydrates.) Include as many vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats as you can, along with seeds and nuts in moderation, and other plant-based sources of protein.
Monitoring what you eat and drink is critical if you want to reduce weight. Consulting with a registered nutritionist or dietician is really the easiest way to get a safe and effective eating plan suited specifically to your needs. A healthy diet can help you lose weight, while making sure you get all the nutrients you need to keep your body healthy overall.
2. Food logging
This is a weight loss method I’ve had much success with in the past, as I discussed in a previous post. Food logging is basically tracking everything you eat and drink, including portion size and time of day you’re eating.
Food logging accomplishes several things simultaneously. First, it’s harder to snack mindlessly or graze your way through the day if you have to write down every single thing you eat. Second, just the accountability of having to write down everything you eat can make you think twice before reaching for that extra cookie.
Third, food logging can help you to recognize patterns that emerge in what and when you eat. For example, do you find yourself getting hangry every day when your kids get home from school, and wolfing down a bunch of unhealthy snacks to try to self-soothe? I noticed this pattern in myself when I first started food logging. In response, I began setting an alarm to remind me to eat a healthy, filling snack right before they came home. That snack helped me stay on even keel while working them through afternoon chores and homework, which kept me from bingeing on an endless stream of chocolate after they got off the bus.
Knowing the nutritional content of what you’re eating is a useful part of this exercise. For this information, logging food the old-fashioned way (paper and pencil) can be a pain in the backside, because you’ll have to look up all the nutritional information separately. However, there are a number of apps (some free, some not) that will automatically give you a nutritional breakdown of what you’re eating, as well as how likely that food is to contribute to weight loss or weight gain.
3. Prescription medications
Weight loss can feel intimidating, especially without a support base or the knowledge to approach it. However, with the help of a prescription medication named Ozempic, weight loss could become much more accessible for people who’ve had little luck with other methods.
As noted, Ozempic is a prescription drug that helps with weight loss and also helps improve blood sugar levels. Ozempic slows down digestion, making you feel fuller for longer, decreasing cravings, and reducing the amount of fat absorbed from food. Ozempic cost can vary in the US based on dosage, location, and insurance coverage. But it’s an option you may want to discuss with your medical provider, especially if you’ve struggled to achieve lasting results with other weight loss methods.
4. Weight loss surgery
Weight loss surgeries have become widely popular due to their rapid and dramatic results. Having bariatric surgery for weight loss not only speeds up actual weight loss, but also improves your overall appearance. One huge advantage of weight-loss surgery is reducing strain on the heart and other vital organs, as well as your joints.
Weight loss procedures are not something you should consider on a whim, though. Weight loss surgery involves significant complications and risks, including the risks of developing nutritional deficiencies or infection. Consulting with a medical professional before considering such surgery is a must, to help determine whether you might be an appropriate candidate for such a procedure.
It’s also worth noting that surgical weight loss is only for people who are significantly overweight, and that most doctors will consider weight loss surgery only after patients have not had luck with other weight loss efforts. In other words, it’s not a first resort or “quick fix”; this is major surgery, and requires the sort of recovery time and ongoing monitoring you’d expect from any other major surgery.
A college friend of mine had weight loss surgery after several other weight loss attempts failed to help her meet her goals, and when her knees and heart were starting to experience serious complications from the extra weight she’d been carrying for years. While she was excited to finally be able to shed some of her excess pounds, she’d be the first to tell you that it was NOT an easy process, and is not the right solution for everyone.
It’s also worth keeping in mind, as she discovered, that the weight does not come off evenly, so parts of your body may lose excess fat at different rates. Also, follow-up surgeries (such as to remove excess skin, or replace joints damaged by carrying too much weight for years) are sometimes needed after weight-loss surgery.
5. Lifestyle changes
Making one or more changes to your lifestyle can be highly effective for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight goal. Lifestyle changes often involve physical activity, but those aren’t the only aspects of your lifestyle you may need to adjust.
Yes, emphasizing regular exercise will positively impact your health and weight. Other common lifestyle changes that can help you lose weight involve tweaking what you eat, as noted above. If you aren’t already doing so, making sure to eat balanced meals rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins can make a huge difference; so can giving up sugary beverages and/or late-night snacking.
But did you know that even adjusting your sleep patterns can help you lose weight? Chronic lack of sleep can boost your body’s levels of the hormone that signals hunger, leading to weight gain over time! I have also noticed for myself that when I’m short on sleep, not only am I more hungry, but the foods I crave are those highly refined, often high-in-sugar carbohydrates (think pastries, cookies, and sugary breakfast cereals) that tend to pack on extra pounds literally overnight.
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The key lies in finding a lifestyle and a weight loss method you enjoy and stick with. Things you hate won’t be sustainable for the long haul. Being clear on WHY you want to lose weight can also help you stick with lifestyle changes when the going gets tough. Many lifestyle adjustments only require minimal steps, and keeping realistic expectations rather than forcing giant leaps ahead allows you to achieve your sustainable weight loss goals.
Regular exercise is vital to losing weight and achieving fitness goals, and will also help you shed fat. Most importantly, it has many other advantages that can benefit your health. Exercise helps regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and improve heart health. Following a safe, well-rounded exercise plan should be an essential part of any weight loss program, no matter what method you choose.
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Staying active helps boost your energy levels and provides much-needed cardiovascular activity, so you can eliminate the excess from your body as the plan progresses. With consistent workouts, you can increase your metabolism and reduce your appetite, eventually burning excess calories and fat. Always consult your doctor before you begin a new exercise program, especially if you have other underlying health concerns, and always start slow and work your way into it – especially if you haven’t exercised much in a long time.
Also keep in mind that a well-balanced exercise program should include both cardiovascular aerobic exercise and strength training. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass; but a pound of muscle burns more calories in a day than a pound of fat, so working to build and maintain strong muscles will actually help you lose weight faster. In addition, strength training will help your body be able to handle whatever aerobic exercise you’re choosing.
Just be sure to also include stretching and flexibility training, to keep your muscles ready for whatever activity you participate in – even if it’s just walking around your neighborhood.
7. Intermittent Fasting
This is another weight loss method I’ve had good success with, in conjunction with exercise and a balanced diet. It’s also one you should definitely run by your doctor before giving it a go.
Intermittent fasting often involves containing your eating to a certain window during the day – for example, eating all your meals during a 6-hour or 8-hour timespan. By having your body go for longer stretches without food, your metabolism has more opportunity to switch from burning off the last meal or snack you ate, into burning fat from your excess fat stores.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. But those who’ve tried it, including my mama and me, often find that it helps make them more in tune with when they actually are hungry, as well as more mindful about what and how much they eat.
As you can see, there are many different methods to achieve weight-loss goals; the key is to find what bests suits your body and lifestyle. Some weight-loss plans provide fast results, while others are more gradual and sustainable. However, whatever method you choose, consistency and dedication are the critical success factors in losing weight. And again, it’s important to consult a registered dietician or a nutritionist who can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the program, as well as to discuss any weight loss regime you’re considering with your regular healthcare provider before beginning.
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