Helpful tips for long-term weight loss

“I lost 5kgs fast, but now I’ve put them all back on!” There are many weight-loss schemes that will help you lose weight, but the true test comes with keeping it off and maintaining your new fitness levels.  This means exercising more, and changing your eating habits – for good!

Here’s how you can start:

  • Set realistic goals. Most people expect to lose more weight than what’s realistic. When you’re starting out, you should aim to lose 1kg a week. Remember, it only takes a 10kg weight loss to significantly improve your health.
  • Keep a food journal.  Starting out, write down everything you eat, what you were feeling before you ate it, and how you felt after. A food journal helps you to see potentially negative eating patterns – you might discover that overeating comes down to depression, stress or anxiety for example.
  • Make your eating plan work for you. If you enjoy cooking, chose an eating plan that allows you to prepare your own meals. It’s been shown that if you cook a meal yourself, you tend to eat less – so try cooking your own meals as much as possible. If you don’t like cooking, or simply don’t have the time, look for an eating plan that includes meal replacement shakes or energy bars. Also keep a lookout for healthy pre-cooked meals, but remember to check the nutritional label for added sugar, calories and sodium. If you tend to snack between meals, then replace high-kilojoule snacks with fruit, biltong, low-fat yoghurt and almonds.
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Losing weight and keeping it off means you need to change WHAT you eat, and also HOW you eat.  So, now you’ve found a weight-loss programme to suit you, it’s time to change your eating habits.

Here’s what you need to do:

  •  Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time – preferably at the end of each week, for the week ahead
  • Don’t shop for groceries on an empty stomach! You’ll end up buying for how you’re feeling at the time, which probably means more than you need!
  • Reduce or cut out empty calories such as sugar and alcohol
  • Watch what you eat at restaurants and don’t over-order. Try ordering two starters instead of a starter and main course, for example
  • Throw out unhealthy snacks and junk food – if it’s not there, you won’t be tempted to eat it
  • Exercise more! All you need is 30 minutes a day of brisk walking to get the blood flowing and your heart beating faster.

If you feel that you need additional support, look into commercial weight-loss programs (such as Weight Watchers, Weigh Less or other weight-loss support groups. Rather go this route than be tempted to try untested (and potentially dangerous) “miracle weight loss products’, or crash diets which can do more harm than good.

Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com