Spring is in the air, and many of us are worried about wearing lighter clothing, and especially about all-revealing swimwear. There’s still time though – two or three months before it gets really hot. Take advantage of this time and make gradual changes that will not just help you look better, but also become healthier.
1. Do not go on a crash diet. It’s tempting to eat 1,000 calories per day for 2 weeks, but please resist the temptation. You will lose weight on such a diet, but most of it will be water weight and muscle loss. You will lose very little fat if you starve yourself, and the weight will likely go back up as soon as you stop. You won’t just be hungry and cranky – you will actually mess up your metabolism, causing it to screech to a halt, so the next time you try to lose weight, it will be nearly impossible.
2. Don’t go on ANY diet. Crash diets are especially harmful, but any diet is not a good idea. “A diet” is a temporary thing; it’s all about short-time deprivation in return for immediate gratification. But when it comes to weight loss, immediate gratification is usually followed by a rapid weight gain when the diet is over. Instead of “dieting,” work to change your eating habits for life. This will result in slow, gradual weight loss, but that weight loss would be fat, not muscle, and you’ll be far more likely to keep the weight off for good.
3. Eliminate one bad habit every 2 weeks. Just eliminating sugary soda could result in an effortless weight loss of 15 – 60 pounds per year! The same goes for that daily cup of grande latte. Even with reduced fat milk and no added sugar you’re looking at 200 extra calories per day – these do add up.
4. Add one good habit every two weeks. You could start with choosing the stairs over the elevator or escalator. Even if your office is on the 10th floor, you could still take the elevator up to the 7th floor, then climb the rest. Another good idea would be to always park away from the entrance – at the mall, at the office, when running errands. These extra steps you take WILL add up!
5. Eat fewer carbohydrates, and more protein and healthy fats. Carbs are fattening. They cause your insulin, the fat-storage hormone, to spike. They also cause cravings and make you feel hungrier. Protein and fat, on the other hand, are satiating and will not have the same effect on your insulin production and on your blood sugar as carbs. Start gradually, replacing one high-carb meal a day with a protein-rich meal. For example, instead of having a bagel with cream cheese with your tall latte, have a cup of plain Greek yogurt mixed with a handful of berries and a handful of nuts (those will add healthy fats), with some black coffee. You’ll feel satiated for longer, and won’t suffer the typical midmorning slump.
It may seem easier to get that bikini body by crash dieting, but crash diets always backfire. As a long-term strategy, it’s much better to work on gradually changing your habits. Over the course of the next 2-3 months, the scale WILL reward your efforts ; the weight lost will be fat, not water or muscle, and you’ll be far more likely to keep it off.