As a way to promote my business and practice my writing, particularly with constraints, I have been responding to HARO (Help a Reporter Out) queries. Three times every weekday, I receive lists of topics from reporters who are looking for source feedback for their articles. Categories include business/finance, health & medicine, lifestyle, entertainment, travel, and so forth. Interested persons reply to the queries and, if accepted, their responses are included in the article, either digital or print, with mentions of their business. I got my first mention in a blog post that came out yesterday. You can read that article here.
This morning I responded to a query from a reporter looking for success tips from people who have lost 20+ pounds and kept it off. I thought I’d share with you what I shared with that reporter. I’m not including the “common sense” stuff about cutting sugary drinks for water and exercising every day.
My tips for healthy lifestyle success:
(1) Just do it, anyway. When I don’t want to go out for that walk, I grab the sneakers and walk anyway. When I don’t really feel like going to aerobics, I grit my teeth and do it, anyway. I find a “commitment” activity. Though it was humid out this summer, once I grabbed a pair of socks, I mentally committed to walking. (I keep a pile of clean, paired socks beside my bed, so I can just reach down and grab a pair. Boom! Commitment before I get out of bed.)
(2) Ignore weight. The scale just tells us about our relationship with gravity. When you’re improving your health through changing food choices and adding exercises, it’s common not just to lose fat but also to build muscle. A pound of muscle weighs as much as a pound of fat (so no weight change between losing that fat and building that muscle), but a pound of muscle is denser and has significantly less volume than a pound of fat. Your weight may stay the same while your body shape is noticeably changing.
(3) Record everything you eat. With the holidays coming up, this is tedious – heavy family dinners, parties, socials, etc. This helps you see patterns in your eating and helps you make adjustments to make sure you’re getting enough carbohydrates, fats, and proteins without consistently overdoing any one of these. I use an app in my phone to keep up with this.
(4) Move. Grab extra steps whenever and however you can. Some days require long periods of sitting, but break them up by walking and stretching.
(5) Be gracious with yourself. You’re not going to exercise when you’re sick. That’s OK. There’s no walking outside when it’s 30 degrees. Ate 2400 calories on that day of the office Christmas party followed by your spouse surprising you with dinner out? It’s one day. You haven’t failed as long as you get right back to it as soon as you reasonably can.
(6) Eat the dessert. In other words, don’t do a deprivation diet. Eating a little bit of that “bad food” will stave off cravings for it and the potential for bingeing on it. Denying yourself carbs or fats or whatever to lose weight just makes you want those foods that much more after you meet your weight-loss goal. I have seen, time after time, people regaining unhealthy amounts of weight after following low-carb diets or diets where the foods/meals are provided for them. Just be sure to record the food in your food journal and possibly add some extra exercise to the week.
I had already cut out sugary drinks (tea and sodas) in favor of water, so that isn’t something new to me. I also don’t drink many alcoholic drinks (max 2-3 a year) or fancy coffee drinks, all of which pack on a lot of empty calories. I am still losing weight, but this lifestyle change has become a part of me. Simply put, the side benefits make me feel good, so I’m more inclined to keep with it.
Once you make a healthy lifestyle yours, it goes beyond such mundane things as dieting for weight loss and trying to bulk up. With a slow and steady progress, the healthy lifestyle becomes just that – a life style. Or, a better way to look at it is, a style of living for the rest of your life. It’s a style of living that includes healthy, balanced eating; regular exercise; and overall choices that lead to a longer, happier, healthier, more active life.