Weight Loss Wednesday: Finding Balance

     In the course of my work as a dietitian, I am often asked about weight loss, with the most frequent question being, “What should I be eating to lose weight?”  In principle, the answer to this question is an easy one- you must simply eat less calories than your body burns in a day. This deficit will allow you to lose weight.  However, anyone who has ever attempted weight loss can tell you that, in practice, it is anything but simple.

     A search of popular diets today might bring up the Paleo Diet (eat like a caveman), the Keto Diet (eat like carbs don’t exist and fat is your friend), Intermittent Fasting (eat like a spiritual leader on a vision quest in the desert) or the Flexible Diet (eat all the crap you want, as long as it fits your carbs, protein, fat and calories for the day).  With all these different extremes to choose from, deciding on what you need to eat in order to lose weight can seem difficult and complex. So how can we simplify it? What are the nuts and bolt of what really causes weight loss? If I had to describe it on one word, that word would be “balance”. I know it sounds pretty vague, but the idea of balance is really the overarching principle that governs not just weight loss in the short term, but maintenance of that loss in the long term.

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     So what exactly does this mean in real time?

·      It means that, for starters, you should balance your intake (food) with your output (activity).  Do this by being mindful of what and how much you are eating, also by calculating your BMR. Here's a good breakdown of what this means and how to do it.

·      It means that you shouldn’t feel like you have to be a food saint to lose weight. Dedication to a healthy diet must be balanced with the occasional treat or you might be prone to bingeing on junk and therefore impacting your long-term results.

·      It means that you should try to balance your carbs with protein and fat at every meal, so your food will keep you fuller for longer.

·      It means balancing your daily tasks with enough sleep, so that your body doesn’t tell you that you’re hungry when you’re actually just sleepy and consequently cause you to overeat.

 

By approaching weight loss with a mindset geared towards balance, we can avoid black and white thinking, steer clear of difficult to maintain extremes and forgive ourselves for temporary setbacks in the pursuit of our long-term weight loss goals.  This in turn allows for the creation of a mind space in which a measured approach to the process of weight loss is possible, and long-term maintenance can become a habit that is possible and achievable. So take a breath, find your motivation and pursue your balance point.

 

 

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