Everyone knows the basic math of weight loss: eat less and move more so that the number of calories burned is greater than the number of calories consumed. But anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows it’s not that simple! There are many contributing factors to weight loss, especially for women. Age, genetics, health issues, hormonal balance, physical activity, life stage, career or life stress, and more all play significant roles in weight gain and can make the process of weight loss feel complicated and overwhelming.
The good news is that complicated does not mean impossible. You can achieve your weight loss goals! Check out these 10 healthy habits to help you succeed in reaching your weight loss goals.
Drink More Water
You likely need to decrease your food intake to lose weight, but you also need to increase your water intake. Why? Because water is vital to almost every function of our bodies. Getting enough water will help with digestion, liver function, metabolism, blood volume, appetite regulation, energy for physical activity and more. As these functions become more efficient, they help weight loss to occur. And as the body gets used to being hydrated, it will begin to release water it has stored in case of emergency. That means you lose water weight by drinking more. It takes time for increased hydration to make its full impact, but the weight loss is worth the wait.
Getting your Zzzz’s may not seem directly related to weight loss, but it is! Studies have shown that getting less than about seven hours of sleep a night increases your risk of weight gain and obesity. On the most basic level, decreased or poor sleep makes it more difficult for you to make good choices, maintain self-control, and stick with a weight loss plan. In addition, feeling tired also makes it tough to exercise. Poor sleep also actually changes the hormonal and chemical balance in your body. Poor sleep can trigger higher levels of Cortisol, a stress hormone that increases appetite. It can also change the release of two hormones that send a message of hunger or fullness to the brain. Sleep can also impact the way your cells respond to insulin, which can lead to insulin resistance that causes type two diabetes (and usually weight gain).
Don’t just exercise more, exercise better. Cardiovascular exercise is any physical activity that raises your heart rate. Walking, running, biking, swimming, skiing, and many more are all cardiovascular activities. While you may need to start slow and focus on increasing your duration, aim for 20-60 minutes of cardio at least five times a week. One of the best things you can do is add weight resistance training to your physical activity routine. Weight resistance is any activity that strengthens muscles by causing them to contract against an external resistance. This can include things like lifting free weights, using gym machines, or using your body weight as the resistance in exercises like push-ups, planks, squats or lunges. The amazing thing about weight resistance training is that it keeps burning fat after you are done exercising. As you build lean muscle mass in your body, your metabolism increases and you start to burn calories more efficiently.
Like sleep, stress may not seem directly related to weight gain. But again, it is! Overeating is a common response to feeling stressed. This may be partly emotional, and partly habit. But there is also a scientific reason behind it. Stress causes our bodies to produce more cortisol. This stress hormone triggers a craving for food, especially comfort foods that are high in carbs, fat, and sugar. The higher intake of junk food means more weight and body fat. The cravings are hard to fight, so start by lowering stress, which will lower the cravings. You can reduce stress through big life changes like a new job or a new relationship. But you can consistently lower stress through small actions like taking breaks, finding hobbies you enjoy, exercising, spending time with friends, and of course, laughing a lot.
Eat Less of This
Not all foods are created equal! So pay attention to what you put in your body. A healthy diet includes less processed food, especially foods that contain refined sugar and carbs. Our culture makes it easy and appealing to eat these packaged foods because they are fast and flavorful. But they contain high fat, calories, and low nutritional value.
Eat More of These
Nutrition to support weight loss includes more lean protein (think chicken and fish), fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado. Learning to cook with and eat these foods may take time. Embrace the process and take it one step at a time in order to form a lasting habit of healthy eating. And don’t forget to make between-meal snacks part of your overall weight loss plan. Eating healthy snacks that are high in fiber and protein (fruits, nuts, veggies, hummus, etc.) will help curb your appetite and provide energy.
This is where basic math comes into play—fewer calories equals fewer pounds. But instead of ruling out whole meals or categories of food, simply making portions smaller will make your overall calorie intake lower. Using smaller plates can help, then be sure to fill half the plate with veggies, a fourth of the plate with lean protein, a fourth with complex carbohydrates, and a small portion of healthy fats.
Balance Your Hormones
Losing weight as a woman when there is an underlying hormonal imbalance can feel like an uphill battle. All women have some fluctuation in their hormones throughout their cycle, and at different stages of life such as pregnancy or menopause. However, if you suspect that hormones are impacting your quality of life or limiting your ability to lose weight, talk with your doctor who can offer testing and solutions to get you back on the right track.
On your weight loss journey, traveling companions can be one of your greatest tools. Ask friends, family, and coworkers to provide company and accountability. Or join an in-person or online support group. Whatever you do, don’t go it alone. Not only can companions help you set goals and stay disciplined, but they can also simply provide connection, which helps work against the emotional aspects of weight gain. We are stronger together!
Look at the Long Term
Sure everyone wants to look great for that beach trip, or the party next month. But lasting weight loss comes from focusing on the long term. Weight loss can make you look and feel better, but the benefits of weight loss don’t stop there. Reducing your body fat improves your overall health and can reduce your risk of major health issues like heart disease and diabetes. Set short term goals that you can accomplish, but don’t lose sight of the long term goal of health. Remember to beware of fad diets that simplify the process or promise dramatic results in a short time. Weight loss is a journey, and no one-size formula fits all. Each woman’s individual needs for weight loss vary depending on weight, height, and age. A balanced approach that takes all these factors into consideration is key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. While everyone’s needs vary, keep in mind that calories per day should never be below 800 for an adult woman, unless specifically prescribed and managed by a doctor.
Sometimes complicating factors limit the effectiveness of these healthy habits. If you are dealing with obesity as a medical issue, or simply feel like you need help on your weight loss journey, New YOU Weight Loss offers state-of-the-art tools, resources, and procedures to help you make the transformation you want. From Managed Weight Loss Programs to surgical procedures, the doctors and staff at New You Weight Loss offer solutions to help address your personalized weight loss needs. Request a free consultation today, and take the next step forward in your journey.