Two very effective lifestyle changes for weight loss are to eat less and move more. Sounds simple doesn’t it? In all honesty, it is. However, our North American populations are eating more and moving less. Obesity rates are rising, even with the massive amount of information available to the public to self-educate. There is no lack of opportunity to take charge of your health in Canada yet people still eat more and move less. It basically comes down to a lifestyle choice. So let’s take a moment and look at these two very basic lifestyle choices and how they can be practiced.
When you eat less, you consume fewer calories, so it’s obvious that eating less will help you lose weight. While there can be other reasons why you are having trouble losing weight (medications, etc.), for the majority of people it’s because they are eating more food than their bodies require. Each person requires a different number of calories per day to maintain their weight. Knowing what your required daily amount of calories is the first step (click here to roughly calculate yours using an easy online calculator). Then you begin the journey by cutting out some of those calories per day. Even sedentary people can lose weight if they eat less than their daily number of calories required. So eating less food each day, even without regular exercise, can create weight loss.
If eating less is such a basic concept for losing weight, then why are people eating more instead? I believe there are a few reasons. First, we are scared to eat less because of all the media out there saying that low calorie diets will “kill” your metabolism. This is misinformation. Unless you are extremely under-eating and doing it for a long period of time, you will not “kill” your metabolism.
Second, we are “supersized” to the point where we don’t even know what a proper portion size is anymore. People need to reeducate themselves and learn what a proper portion size looks like because without knowing this, you are overeating without intention (click here for info on proper portion sizes).
Finally, mindful eating is a lost skill. People eat while driving, at the work desk, in front of the TV, and so on. This is also known as ‘distracted eating’. When you eat like this you have no idea how much food you just consumed and sometimes can eat something without even realizing you just ate something. Then to top it off, you are not mentally satisfied with what you ate because you weren’t paying attention and want something else to eat. How crazy is that? We need to get back to mindful eating, which means that you do no other activity while eating and pay attention to what it is you are eating. Get to know your food again and develop your skills for mindful eating. It’s extremely satisfying and you will eat less without even trying to eat less. Do you know there is an organization created for mindful eating? Yup, check it out here – The Center for Mindful Eating.
When you move, you burn more calories than when you are not moving, so it’s also obvious that moving more will help you lose weight. If you sit a lot, get up often. Even standing for 2 minutes every 20 minutes throughout the day can help sedentary people improve their fitness (click here to read the article ‘Is Sitting a Lethal Activity.’) Moving can be in whatever form you desire as long as you move. Even the most sedentary person who moves a little bit more each day, and without changing anything in their diet, can actually lose weight because that person will use up more calories. Over a period of time, the scales will go down providing he or she does not increase their caloric intake. So moving more, even without dietary changes, can create weight loss.
If moving more is such a basic concept for losing weight, then why are people moving less? I think there are a few reasons. First, society makes it too easy to move as little as possible to get things done. We have drive-throughs for food, banking, coffee, and who knows what else. We have buttons to open doors, elevators to skip the stairs, and online shopping instead of walking the malls. Get my point? If you have a medical reason for using these systems, it’s understandable, but for the average Canadian, these systems should be avoided. If you just do the actions yourself such as walking to get food, standing in the bank line-up, taking the stairs, push to open doors, and so on, these short activities will require you to exert some effort to complete and add up to make a difference.
Second, the word “busy” has become an extremely popular and overused term. Busy is now the new word to use for “I don’t want to do that.” It’s become a great excuse because no one questions it. Well, here’s what I’m asking now – if you’re life is so busy that you can’t squeeze in 5 minutes of fitness each day to care for your health and help you reach your weight loss goals, then don’t you think you should rethink what you have on your plate? Honestly, people spend more time looking after the well being of their cars than they do their own health. What is going to get you further in life, your car or your health? Think about it.
Lastly, I think people are mislead, and turned off, by the media on what are effective exercise for weight loss. The media portrays this “if you aren’t going hard, sweating your guts out, feeling your muscles burn, close to puking, then you aren’t doing it right” kinda attitude. This is so, so, so very, very wrong! If someone who hasn’t been exercising starts incorporating 5 minutes of any type of exercise into their daily routine, they are going to make changes to their body. If someone who has been exercising for a period of time but isn’t losing weight, increases their intensity just slightly in their routine, they will burn more calories, and make changes to their body. So don’t listen to that bullshit out there that you have to go until you drop or run 100 miles a week in order to make a difference. Challenges come in many different forms and what challenges one person may not challenge another. We have to find our own!
So I say to you, if you aren’t moving, start moving, if you are moving with no results, change up your routine and put in a few short efforts. For example, if you’re always walking the same 5k route with no hills, change it up by adding one steep climb, and go from there. There is no need to go out and “kill” yourself everyday to try and lose weight. In fact, that’s a good way to end up injured or burned out. The most important thing of all when you decide to move more is to fall in love with the way you are moving. In other words, find something that requires you to move your body but also gives you great pleasure. For me, it’s mountain biking. I don’t look at it as a workout. I look at it as a lifestyle, every ride is an adventure, it’s such a rush, and if I could live on my saddle, I would. I can’t imagine my life without it. That’s what you need to find, something your passionate about, so moving everyday feels awesome for you instead of a chore.
Before I close, I must do a shout-out to my brand new YouTube fitness channel. If you are having trouble getting motivated to move for whatever reason, you should TOTALLY check out Tammy’s Fitness Jammies (click here) and facebook page (click here). I upload short workout videos, generally about 5 minutes long, on a daily basis. Workouts are done in pajamas, often with coffee, and sometimes in slippers. Most of the exercises are focused on strength and mobility. Seriously, does it get any easier to workout? If that doesn’t motivate you to move, I don’t know what will.
Take away message – two basic lifestyle changes you can make to lose weight is eat less and move more. If you are not exercising right now, start doing something for 5 minutes every day. If you are moving and getting no results, cut back on your calories. While moving more and eating less each alone can help you lose weight, combining them together will make it happen faster. It’s the full meal deal! Even if you eat chips and chocolate everyday, just cut back on the amount you are eating. You will be amazed how making these two basic lifestyle changes can help you move the scales.
On a final note, if you are doing both and not losing weight, you might need to eat more and/or move less, but that’s a “whole nother” topic.