March 1, 2011
Tracey L. Chavous
Health and Wellness Writer
On average, our society spends millions of dollars on weight loss programs and gimmicks. 95 % of diets do not work for everyone, therefore causing quicker weight gain, thus fostering a yo-yo dieting syndrome. This is largely due to the fact that each person has their very own unique body type and nutrition requirements for what works best for them. This is called bio-individuality, whereby you cultivate the most beneficial way to eat in a way that honors and agrees with your body, mind and spirit. The recognition of bio-individuality considers influences like blood-type, ancestry, gender, metabolism level and age in terms of what would naturally feed our bodies in the best way possible. There are realistic natural ways to lose weight that are gradual, yet long lasting and beneficial to your overall health and wellness.
Decades and centuries ago, there was not a constant onslaught of media circuses available 24-7. Many of our ancestors knew how to live with the seasons, ate locally grown food, ate small portions, got daily activity and lived within their means. There were no gym memberships, no pre-packaged conveniences and no cooking shows. They lived simply and they lived a life of better health. Surely, as a society, we can get back to those roots of success with these few manageable steps.
- 1. Eliminate Processed Foods
We live in a fast paced society that produces things at warp speed. From paying bills online to instant messaging to speed dating, we can now have a four-course meal made to eat in 10 minutes or less. More people than ever before eat highly processed fast foods, which have led to epidemic levels of ailments around the globe. “Processed foods are made with trans-fats, saturated fats and large amounts of sodium and sugar. These types of foods should be avoided or at least eaten sparingly.” [www.about.com]
Processed foods that may not be as healthy as fresh foods include:
- canned foods with large amounts of sodium or fat
- breads and pastas made with refined white flour, instead of whole grains
- packaged high-calorie snack foods such as chips and candies
- frozen fish sticks and frozen dinners that are high in sodium
- packaged cakes and cookies
- boxed meal mixes that are high in fat and sodium
- sugary breakfast cereals
- processed meats
These foods tend to make you feel less satisfied and cause cravings more of the same kinds of foods and beverages. If you have become highly accustomed to these types of processed foods, try eliminating them altogether or at least gradually reducing the amount of intake. More than likely, you will notice a difference in your overall feeling over time.
- 2. Cook Whole Foods
You don’t need fancy cookware, gourmet spices or cooking classes to begin the process of cooking for yourself or your family. Many busy people cook regularly and as a result are healthier, happier and have more money in their pocket. A trip to a fresh farm market or a stroll down the outer aisles of the grocery store can open up a new world of healthier options, contrary to some thoughts. Shapefit.com states that most fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats and natural food items are usually located on the outer aisles. Often these foods contain the most nutrients and the least amount of preservatives and added chemicals. As you shop for better options, begin to read labels to see if the less processed items have 5 ingredients or less on the nutrition facts label. Keeping the ingredients to a minimum is also a way to ensure that you are putting quality, whole foods in your body.
You can bake, broil, boil or sauté many whole foods in very little time. Meats and fish can be trimmed of excess fat at the seafood and meat counters. Adding fresh raw or cooked vegetables to any meal is always a health booster when trying to lose weight. Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and pastas require little effort to prepare. Consider the option of having one or two meatless meals per week by substituting these items for beans, nuts or tofu, which can also help speed up the weight loss process. You’ll find that on many occasions, there will be leftovers that can be eaten the following day for lunch or dinner. The key to cooking at home is planning ahead by making a grocery list and sticking to it, buying fruits and vegetables that are in season and setting time aside to prepare your meals in a relaxed and happy environment.
- 3. Proper Hydration
Staying hydrated is the key to wellness. The body is made of 60-70% water. You could survive several days without food, but wouldn’t last long without water. Many people would not go one to two days without a shower or bath, so imagine the inside of your body without the benefits of water’s cleansing effect. Rather than consuming sports drinks, flavored waters or diet sodas, the best option for thirst and hydration is pure water. A rule of thumb to accommodate your bio-individuality is to consider drinking half your body weight in ounces (i.e. 150/2 = 75/8= 9.5 oz). Some symptoms of dehydration include grogginess, irritability, headaches and lack of concentration. Drinking ample water is great insurance that your body will be able to filter out excess toxins as well as keep your appetite in reasonable balance.
Herbal teas have many healing benefits and can be very filling and satisfying before and after a meal causing you to eat less. The heat from the tea can also aid in better digestion, making you feel more relaxed. This is true for warm weather as well; however, making a nice pitcher of fresh herbal tea to refrigerate can be just as refreshing from time to time. Herbal teas are a great way to improve failing health and help keep one’s health in tact. However, if you are a heavy drinker of alcohol or take other medications, then certainly check with a medical professional before adding herbal tea supplements to your overall daily diet. While herbal teas are most widely known for their health benefits, if mixed with certain medications or with alcohol, the benefits of these teas can be thwarted by mild to extreme side effects.
- 4. Exercise
There’s just no way around the importance and bountiful benefits of exercise. When you are trying to lose weight, exercise is the number one solution for burning unwanted calories, toning the body and uplifting your overall mood. Losing weight for most people seems very challenging. Exercise can provide that emotional boost to help shift your attitude toward better health. When your mood is good, you tend to make better food choices and feel good about yourself. Exercise doesn’t have to mean an expensive gym membership; a simple walk in your neighborhood or in the parking lot of your office can have lasting effects on your cardiovascular health. Parking your car farther away from the door or getting off of the bus or train one stop to walk is a health strategy that can silently take the pounds off.
Increase your chance of success by staying focused on your goal(s) of losing weight naturally. While you determine what type of exercise is best for your bio-individuality, consider keeping a journal that tracks what you eat, which exercises agree with your body type and the time of day you prefer to be active. The simplicity of it all is in what works best for you. The options are endless depending on season and environment and include: walking, yoga, Zumba, dancing, jogging and biking. Be open to trying new things and inviting a buddy could be an inviting incentive.
Within a few weeks, these changes can manifest noticeably improved results. Maintain the food/exercise journal to see what types of foods and exercise have an impact on your overall mood and outlook about what you are doing. You will begin to see recognizable trends that will better equip you in understanding what works best for you. A gradual weight loss will more than likely provide a lasting and sustainable difference making it less likely for you to gain the weight back. The key is accepting that it took a long time to put the weight on, and it will take quality and quantity time to lose it. Set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate your success in non-food ways. Experiment with new foods and new exercises. You will soon welcome a new you!