If you’ve decided to lose weight, you may be worried that you’ll choose a method, or a diet, that’s not safe, especially after the Fen-Phen scare a few years ago. No worries! If you’re considering a diet, here are my top ten tips on losing weight safely.
1. Learn the Pyramid
The absolute safest way to lose weight is also the most effective way to lose weight, and then maintain a healthy weight once you’ve reached your goal. Visit choosemyplate.gov and use their calculator tool to figure out how many servings of each food group you ought to be consuming each day. The tool will give you a completely personalized plan, taking into consideration your age, sex, height, current weight, and activity level. The pyramid plan won’t tell you exactly what meals to eat (spaghetti, cereal, etc.) , but it will tell you how many servings of each food group (grains, dairy, fruits, etc.) you should have. If you learn how to read food labelsand follow the plan, you’ll lose weight safely, and you won’t gain it back!
2. Skip the Pills
If you’re worried about dieting safely, then skip the diet pills, and also, never, ever take someone else’s diet pills! As we learned with the Fen-Phen debacle, drugs aren’t the safest way to lose weight, and even the ones approved for use by the FDA aren’t perfect.
3. Don’t Starve Yourself
You may think that skipping meals or not eating at all will help you lose weight. That’s true, but only at first. Starving yourself isn’t only painful, it’s also terribly unhealthy, and if done long-term, becomes a very dangerous medical condition called anorexia nervosa. When you skip meals, you rob your body of vital nutrition, which can literally kill you over a period of time.
4. Don’t Binge and Purge
Another dangerous eating disorder is bulimia nervosa. People who suffer from bulimia will eat, but immediately feel guilty for having eaten, or are worried they ate too much, and will force themselves to regurgitate the food. This is just as dangerous as anorexia, since your body will still be severely malnourished. Never, ever do this! And if you think you may be bulimic, or that someone you know is bulimic, seek medical help immediately! Keep telling yourself that the best way tolose weight is the healthy way.
5. Add Some Exercise
Photo Credit: danlees
If you’re not losing weight as quickly as you would like, it’s usually safe to add exercise to your daily routine to help you burn more calories. Regular exercise will also improve your mood, give you more energy, help you avoid cardiac and bone problems, and will also help you gain muscle tone. Exercise can be as simple as taking a brisk walk after dinner. Even that little bit will do wonders for your safe weight loss program!
6. Don’t Cut out Carbs
You may be tempted to try a diet that promises quick weight loss if you give up carbs and focus on another macronutrient (protein) instead. Don’t do it! You’ll lose weight, at first, but these types of diets are terribly unhealthy in the long-term. Your body requires all of the macronutrients — protein, carbs, and fats — to function properly. Instead educate yourself about good fats v/s bad fats.
7. Get Professional Help
If you’re having difficulty developing a diet and exercise regimen that you like, or one that you find effective, you can join a weight loss program (like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers) or you can consult a personal trainer, or even your family doctor. Sometimes just reviewing you plan, and looking for ways to improve it, can help you lose weight more safely and efficiently.
8. Ignore the Scale
As you lose fat and begin to create more lean muscle, you’ll notice that you’re not losing any actual pounds. This can be frustrating, but it’s understandable — muscle does weigh a little more than fat. My advice? After the first few weeks, stop using a weight scale, stop weighing yourself! You’ll know you’re losing weight by the way your clothes fit, and by how you feel. Instead of weighing in each day, or every few days, do it once or twice a month.
9. Don’t Yo-yo
Long-term, safe weight loss doesn’t mean losing ten pounds in a week, then gaining it back, then losing it again, then gaining it back. Yo-yo dieting is frustrating and unhealthy. Once you’ve reached your target weight, keep up your healthy eating and exercise habits. Gaining and losing weight over and over again puts unnecessary and dangerous strain on your body, and may lead to heart, liver, and kidney damage.
10. Be Reasonable
If you’re eating healthier, and exercising, you will lose weight, and then when you’ve reached your target weight, you’ll be able to stay there, with minor fluctuations. But weight loss takes time, and patience. It’s not reasonable to assume you’ll lose ten pounds each week for six weeks. It’s more reasonable to expect to lose two or three pounds each week, and to lose twenty pounds over the course of five or six months (that lean-muscle vs. fat issue again). Don’t push yourself too hard, hoping you’ll lose the weight faster than that, and don’t resort to starving yourself, either!
Once you know all of the rules to losing weight safely and dieting, you’ll be able to choose a program that will work for you. Be patient, be persistent, and you’ll succeed! Do you have any other safe weight loss tips to share? How have they worked for you? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: Red~Star