No dodgy diets to see here! If your goal is to learn how to reach and maintain a happy weight, these expert-backed healthy weight loss strategies will help you find the right balance…
The goal of getting to a weight where your body feels and functions at its best is a common one, but there’s so much conflicting information out there that the science of shedding pounds can be controversial and overwhelming.
It’s no secret that fast fixes don’t work in the long term, so what’s the answer if you want to learn how to reach and maintain a healthy weight? Rather than get stressed about how much you’re exercising and what you’re putting in your body, the experts suggest making some simple tweaks to everyday habits to help with healthy weight management in the long term.
Here’s how to reach and maintain a healthy weight for your body…
How to reach and maintain a healthy weight
1. Move more throughout the day
Not only is moving more throughout the day good for all-round health, it could also help with long-term weight management. A study published in the journal Obesity concluded that moving more, rather than doing structured exercise, helped most with keeping weight off.
‘Move, even if it’s using the stairs more often or making that lunchtime walk a non-negotiable activity,’ agrees Denis Faye, vice president of nutrition at Beachbody. ‘Exercise keeps your body healthy, and a healthy body processes food better as well.’
2. Focus on your strength and health
Well-planned activity goals can set you up for success, but PT Chloe Twist, fitness content executive for Insure4Sport, recommends shifting your focus from weight loss to strength and health when learning how to reach and maintain a healthy weight. ‘You’ll develop a healthier and more sustainable approach to maintaining a good level of fitness by measuring milestones, such as how many repetitions you can complete or the duration you can run non-stop, instead of how many pounds you’ve dropped.’
Find a form of activity that you enjoy to stay motivated. ‘Studies show that the intensity of a workout doesn’t dictate the benefits it has on mood, so choose a physical activity that will support you best mentally,’ adds personal trainer Nicole Chapman. ‘By adapting to what best serves you, you’re more likely to build regular activity into your week.’
3. Ditch the fast-fix diets
Diets that promise a fast fix are common, but data suggests they don’t work in the long term. A study published in the BMJ, for example, looked at 14 popular food fads and discovered that most people on the diets put weight back on within a year. ‘The only way to achieve sustainable weight loss is to ditch fad diets for good,’ says Adam Grayston, a body and mindset coach.
‘Start to learn about what your personal nutritional needs are, including calories and macros. But also, understand that you can eat a takeaway, enjoy social events, indulge in treats, and still lose weight and keep it off long term. Focus on eating well, but be realistic – 80 per cent of your food intake should be decent food and 20 per cent can be anything you want.’
4. Decode your emotions
If you overeat when you’re angry, tired, stressed or sad, you’re not alone. ‘We’re all emotional eaters by nature, but emotional eating
is only a problem when it’s out of balance and results in us being a different weight to what we want,’ explains certified weight mindset specialist Clair MacKenzie, founder of Lose Weight. Live Life.
‘If you want to reduce emotional eating, consider what void you’re filling or emotion you’re numbing. Are you eating to reward or comfort yourself? Consider how you can meet your emotional needs in other ways – can you find comfort in a hug from your partner, or take an early evening walk to relax? Don’t wait until you feel the desire to eat to do these things; build them into your daily habits. That way, you’ll notice your urge to eat to meet your emotional needs diminishes.’
5. Take it slowly and listen to your body
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has ample data to support its role in weight management – one study even found it burned 25-30 per cent more calories than other forms of exercise – but don’t discount the mind and body benefits of going at a slower pace sometimes when learning how to reach and maintain a healthy weight. ‘One of the most important things you can do for any long-term weight loss, and for your overall health and wellbeing, is regular physical activity,’ agrees Dr Giuseppe Aragona, GP and online doctor for prescriptiondoctor.com.
‘This might be through intense sport such as running, HIIT, cycling and swimming, or less intense such as yoga and Pilates. Yoga burns calories whilst also increasing your muscle mass and tone, plus it has been found to help manage stress, improve mood and curb emotional eating – all of which can help with any long-term weight loss goal.’
6. Focus on the quality of your diet
Food is fuel that helps your body to function at its best, so take the time to understand the nutritional value of what’s on your plate. ‘Focus on the quality of your diet rather than counting calories,’ says Michal Mor, co-founder and head of science for product at Lumen. ‘Following a personalised nutrition plan is the best way to achieve optimal weight loss, and using a “food logger” to keep track of what you’ve eaten so that you can understand the impact of your nutrition choices on your weight-loss progress.’
The new food logger on Lumen will enable you to swot up on the nutritional value of what you’re eating, by logging food, scanning food packaging and even seeing how certain foods impact your exercise and sleep habits.
7. Stay hydrated to reach a healthy weight
Your body is made up of about 60 per cent water, so staying hydrated is crucial. But did you know that water boasts other benefits, too? ‘Not only is staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water imperative for your physical and mental health, it is also a great way to help manage and maintain your weight by keeping your appetite under control,’ says Dr Aragona.
‘Often, people may think they are hungry when they are dehydrated and thirsty, so ensuring you reach for a glass of water may help to curb mindless snacking.’ How much do you need to drink? The Eatwell Guide recommends drinking six to eight glasses or cups of fluid a day to replace normal water loss. Water, tea, coffee, lower-fat milk and sugar-free drinks all count.
8. Stress less
Data shows that nearly a third of us feel stressed 10 or more days each month. Reducing that stress could have a positive impact on our eating and exercising habits. ‘Many people overeat and struggle to lose weight or start to gain weight because of daily stress (work, the kids, home life and relationships, to name a few),’ says Grayston.
‘Getting started with any form of exercise will have a positive impact on your stress levels, because it helps channel energy from the mind to the body. Exercise increases heart rate and challenges muscles, so, over time, our hearts become stronger, we feel more relaxed and day-to-day activities become easier which, in turn, reduces stress levels. Many people turn to exercise for stress relief, and rightly so. It’s not a miracle cure for whatever is causing stress in the first place, but exercise will help you to manage stress better.’