We know we must have a healthy diet and exercise to stay healthy, but, how many diet and exercise plans are out there??? Too many to count. A quick Google search for “How to Lose Weight,” reveals 484,000,000 pages associated with that phrase. There are 914,000,000 hits when searching, “Exercise Plan.” The ones that rise to the top are mostly associated with extreme methods or pills for a diet plan. Most of them tout losing weight rapidly, 10 Days, 7 Days, Fast. If any of you have used these methods or pills, you probably experienced what others have, rapid loss and rapid gain. Or you might have discovered, this is too difficult for any extended time period. And then there is exercise…diet alone doesn’t work, so what exercise will I be able to continue?
Reasons why I have had difficulty staying with any scheme or extreme plan, they are not healthy, natural or sustainable. I have a schedule that keeps me from strictly and faithfully following most of the plans. I once went to a nutritionist/Lipidologist. Following the personalized plan she devised for me was unsustainable with my schedule, lifestyle or budget. Clean eating, Mediterranean. Adkins, MediFast, NutriSystem, Dash, and others usually have you eliminate certain groups of food, restrict eating out, cut calorie intake to a “always-hungry” level or make unrealistic claims that become disheartening when you aren’t able to meet them.
Through trial and error as well as hit and miss, here is what works for me. NO SINGLE-FOCUSED DIET PROGRAM. NO UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS OR RESTRICTIONS. NO EXERCISE PLAN THAT IS UNSUSTAINABLE. Below are a few suggestions that come from my experiences of losing weight, maintaining my weight loss and improving my health…better BP, Resting HR, energy level, and appearance. I feel better and enjoy life, including meals. Currently, I have lost 37 lbs over a 1 year and 6 month period. My resting heart rate is 59. My blood pressure is 130/82. My cholesterol is still a little high, but only borderline now. My level was over 300.
This is for the long-haul, not 6 days, 30 days, or even 1 year. This is a life-long lifestyle, so I have to enjoy it and like it.
1. Determine a realistic weight goal. I weighed 135 when I graduated from High School and had a 27 inch waist. So of course, that is what I had in my mind as my desired goal. Or my goal was the picture of that muscular, handsome model. That is totally unreasonable and unhealthy for me now. I weighed 198 when I was convicted that I needed to do something to be healthy. (I’m a small framed, 5’7″ male, so I was heavy). I researched and found that at my age and height the recommended weight was around 145. I believe that is unrealistic for me, plus, when I lost to 145 before, I looked like a skeleton. I do know, that when I was 155, I felt great. So, my goal is 155. You need to determine a weight where you felt great, your health indicators were good, but not unrealistic for you. You also need to forget a time-period goal for achieving your weight goal. Just lose weight. Then maintain your goal.
2. Determine health areas where you need improvement. I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I also gain weight around my belly area, which I’m told, is the worst type concerning health. So, I needed to determine my diet and exercise plan accordingly. I cut back on salt, sugars, certain carbs, certain fats, and caffeine. All these cuts came from my personal research as to what affects my health issues the most.
I also need an exercise plan that will have an affect on these health issues, which turns out to be, cardio exercises.
3. Build a balanced realistic diet plan that works for you. I tried the Mediterranean diet, cleaning eating diet, low carb diet, 6 day eating 1 day fasting diet, crash diets…I could lose weight, sometimes extremely fast, but I could not sustain the plan and ended up gaining more than I lost. Usually from sugar binges or starch attacks.
For me, I found a good balanced diet that included carbs, fats, protein and certain sugars was satisfying and sustainable. I have been at it for over 1 1/2 years now, which is a record for me. I have only been using MFP for over 145 days. This has greatly helped me stay on point.
I use the paid subscription of the app, MyFitnessPal. The MFP uses your personal information, the goals you set, and devises a balanced plan that includes proteins, carbs, fats, and sugar. MFP determines your daily caloric limit based off your personal goals and stats. MFP provides diagrams, a community of encouragement, good information and a place to log daily.
Logging daily is not an option, in order to achieve your goals and maintain them, you must develop the habit of daily logging. And you must be honest with your logging, even if you went over your limits. If you find that you continually go over your limits, you might consider lowering your lbs/month weight loss goal. Better to lose more slowly than discouraging yourself.
4. Do a little research to find the best types of foods in each group. Not all fats are equal. Not all carbs are the same. Not all proteins are beneficial. Not all sugars burn the same. Complex, simple, saturated, non-saturated, poly, red, white, cold water, lean, there are differences and you need to know them.
5. Avoid processed foods, read the label. For me, it is impossible to eliminate, completely, processed foods. However, when shopping, I look for products without preservatives, sugar or fillers added. I avoid products that are processed such as deli meat, white bread, etc. I avoid canned foods, opting for frozen when available. I eat fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, multi-grain, etc. You will have to start LOOKING AT THE LABLES. The fewer the ingredients, the better. The ability to read and know what the ingredients are is a must.
When eating out, which I do regularly, eat at restaurants that have their nutritional values listed. With the internet, this has become easier and easier. Determine what you will eat before going and stick to it. I pay close attention to calories and salt content, because of my personal issues. Calories is vital. You will be surprised what you are able to eat. When eating out, I don’t worry too much about what is processed and what isn’t.
6. Find an exercise that you like and are able to do consistently. I ride a rode bicycle. I am motivated to ride on multiple levels. I love it!! I am competitive and enter events throughout the year that I have to be in shape to participate in. I joined a bicycle riding club. I schedule riding 3 times per week. I have developed a riding plan. Did I say, I love it.
This came through trial, error and elimination. I started by working out in a gym. That did not last for me. I didn’t like it and it was difficult to schedule consistently. I tried swimming. I tried running. I entered running events. I joined a running club. I tried triathlons. I joined a triathlon club. Swimming is boring to me, plus I have to drive to a pool. I kept injuring myself running. It takes too much time to train in swimming, running and riding, for me to do triathlons. Plus, I could never get over the anxiety at the start of the swim. However, I never gave up on doing something, until I totally figured out, cycling is my thing!!
Musts for me concerning my exercise, Liking it, having multiple motivations and being accessible. I love riding, I am competitive, so I compete. I want to be healthy, and cycling is cardio, burning the type of fat I struggle with, belly fat. I ride out of my garage leaving and finish riding into my garage. I have a bike rack that is easily loaded and locations close by for different terrain. This took me several years to figure this out, so do not give up, do something, consistently until you find that “something” you like, are motivated to do, and is accessible.
7. Find a community or club that will be your encouragers. As I said, MFP, has a built in community, you just have to “friend,” people to have it. Join a club and participate in the extra events the club sponsors.
8. Keep this in mind…ONE DAY OR ONE WEEK OF MISSING YOUR GOAL, DOES NOT A LIFE MAKE. You will miss your caloric goal one day, one week or even one month. Hopefully not one month. You will miss exercising…because life happens. Do not stop or give up, just because you missed. Get back on as soon as possible. This is a life long journey…which is the main reason for finding a diet and exercise plan that is reasonable, that you like and that is accessible. You want it to last a lifetime, to have a lifetime of healthier living.