Losing pounds isn’t just about cutting calories, and dieting isn’t a one-shot, temporary thing, it’s a change in lifestyle. To truly drop pounds and transform your body into the one you’ve always wanted, you need to alter your lifestyle to create healthy habits.
Your body often interprets dieting as famine, and responds accordingly. Cutting calories too much can tell your body to conserve fat for energy, often at the expense of muscle. This has the effect of causing your body to require fewer calories — so when you stop dieting, you regain the lost weight quickly, and may even gain more, because with less muscle mass, you can’t burn as many calories.
There are simple ways you can begin to build a new lifestyle, methods you can implement today.
No Tech Before Bed
This one is simple. Put that phone or tablet down before you go to bed, preferably two hours before. Reading a brightly lit screen affects your sleep, keeping you from getting the kind of deep sleep that truly refreshes you. If you build a buffer between your technology and your bedtime, you may notice results almost immediately as you begin to have deeper sleep.
Lose The Energy Drinks
Energy drinks give you an energy boost by pouring calories into you. However, because you receive those calories in liquid form, your body doesn’t interpret that calorie hit as food. This is why your appetite doesn’t change even when you have an energy drink. So, cut them out. Most likely the energy hit you receive from these drinks is only needed because of other factors — such as lack of sleep. This is why so many energy drinks include caffeine. A little caffeine is okay – nobody’s asking you to cut out your morning coffee, but energy drinks are often also packed with sugar. Also, caffeine later in the day is a problem for a sound sleep at night.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t drink; it’s a matter of what you drink. The best liquid you can pour into your body? Water. Start first thing in the morning, and drink regularly throughout the day. Besides keeping you hydrated, water intake can help reduce your appetite by taking up the space in your stomach that might otherwise cause you to feel hunger.
Eat Your Veggies, Transform Your Body
Your grandmother was right: eating your vegetables is vital. Vegetables are not heavy on calories, but they are loaded with nutrients: vitamins, amino acids, proteins — the raw materials your body uses to maintain and repair cells.
One way to add vegetables is to buy carrots, celery, and other vegetables that are easy to eat raw — and prepare them as soon as you get your groceries home. Chop them up and package them in easy to carry containers such as Ziplocs. This way, whenever you need a snack you have something readily available. This will make you less likely to buy that donut you were thinking about when you first started feeling hungry.
Also, add salad to your diet. You don’t have to avoid salad dressings; just be wise about the dressings you use. You can make your own with cooking oil, lemon juice, and spices (avocado oil is excellent for this). A search online will yield countless recipes you can try. Including salad in your meals doesn’t have to be boring.
Protein, Protein, Protein!
Protein is vital to maintaining a healthy body. It contributes to muscle maintenance and growth, and helps keep your organs functioning properly. Research also shows that it even reduces appetite. So add plenty to your diet, especially early in the day. Foods that are high in protein include chicken and beef (look for lean cuts), fish, milk, cheese, eggs, and nuts. To transform your body into the shape you’ve dreamed of, pile on the protein!
Add supplements to your diet, especially a multivitamin. It can be troublesome to get all the vitamins you need from your diet, so filling in with a regular multi can go a long way toward ensuring you have enough vitamins and nutrients to maintain health. Ensuring you have proper nutrients in your body has a host of effects, from improving short-term memory to maintaining muscle strength. So find a good-quality multivitamin and make it part of your morning routine.
Keep A Food Journal
Finally, track what you eat. Keep a log book. Start small and record just one aspect of your change in diet. Perhaps breakfast, or how many glasses of water you have, or how many energy drinks you’ve taken out of your diet.
Remember, you are building new habits, and the only way to build habits is to do them regularly. A journal will keep you aware of what you want to change, reducing the likelihood that you will slide back into old habits. Remember, your goal is to transform your body. Keeping yourself aware of this goal as all times is vital.