Let’s first acknowledge one key point–not everyone wants to lose weight or needs to lose weight. However, there are certain medical conditions where weight loss is indicated–for example, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. For those looking to lose weight for your health, it is important to approach this goal with sustainable weight loss in mind, or weight loss you will be able to maintain long-term.
Health benefits of weight loss include improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar, among other health indicators.1 Losing weight in a sustainable manner may lead to even more positive changes, especially when new habits, such as moving your body more, can help lower stress and improve mental health. Weight loss can be difficult to achieve and maintain for various reasons, but keeping sustainable weight loss strategies in mind can set you up for long-term health.
Why is it difficult to lose weight? Biologically, our bodies work against weight loss. With weight loss, metabolism slows down and different hormones actually increase feelings of hungriness. So, our bodies naturally do not use as much energy to function or move and we want to eat more. Because of these biological factors, we have to continue the strategies we use to lose weight to maintain our new weight.
What are sustainable weight loss strategies?
- Set behavior goals instead of weight goals. Think about the healthy behaviors you can practice to achieve weight loss. These could include walking 10 minutes at lunch, drinking 1 soda instead of 2 each day, cooking dinners at home 5 days a week, and preparing healthy snacks, among many other strategies.
- Start small and add on. Let’s say you want to start walking 30 minutes every day. Maybe you start by walking 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening. Once that’s your routine, add a few minutes to each walk, and keep adding until you reach your 30-minute goal. Think about one thing you could start today, no matter how small.
- Avoid diet trends. These trends are unsustainable and may limit nutrient-rich foods. Instead, eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. Check out the Mediterranean-style eating pattern for inspiration and recipes.
- The weight you are when you lead a healthy and fulfilling life is your best weight. Though it may be challenging at times to maintain your healthy behaviors, find enjoyment in your habits and find balance. Not every day will be perfect or the same, so give yourself grace and do what you can to engage in your healthy habits.
What are healthy habits you are currently engaging in? What are some other habits you want to implement? Check out this blog to learn more about setting SMART goals. Remember, the key to long-term weight loss is sustainable change.
- The Immediate Health Benefits of Losing Weight. University Hospitals, The Science of Health. December 12, 2022. Accessed May 8, 2023. https://www.uhhospitals.org/blog/articles/2022/12/the-immediate-health-benefits-of-losing-weight
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