By Kristin Sidorov
See if this story sounds familiar: After Thanksgiving you make the (very sane) decision to eat healthier and lose weight. After a few days of nonstop salads, a grumbling stomach, and a number on the scale that just won’t budge, you read an article about the latest fad diet that your favorite celebrity is supposedly using to get those amazing arms you’ve always wanted. Or maybe you check Facebook and your friend is bragging about how she lose 8 pounds in a week with a new detox cleanse. Naturally, frustration sets in.
We’ve all been there, and it’s all too easy for that frustration to turn into a little desperation. We want results now, and it seems like every week there’s a new “health” trend promising to finally make us all miraculously thin and beautiful. But we all know how the story ends: chances are, you gain all that weight back…and then some.
If time has taught us anything, it’s that absurdly restrictive diets are fads for a reason. The truth is, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is the still the old fashioned way: a balanced diet, exercise, hard work, and time. Here’s why.
1. Slow and steady wins the race.
Losing weight and keeping it off should be a slow process. You can’t lose all the weight you’re aiming for in just a week or even a month—it’s simply not healthy. Keeping weight off requires a lifestyle change (you can’t drink juice forever!). Safe weight loss equals 1 to 2 pounds a week at most. That works out to burning about 500 to 1,000 calories a day more than you’re consuming. Planning out a realistic, lower calorie diet that aims for long-term weight loss is proven to be the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off.
2. It’s all about balance
Fad diets try to convince us that all we need is one, miraculous product to make all of our dreams come true. All kale, all baby food, all orange things? Too much of any one thing is a recipe for disaster—not only for your weight loss goals, but for your health, too. Your body needs balance and variety, and that means getting the right nutrition from all of the food groups. A diet based on intense restriction is always, always, always a quick fix that will end up backfiring. Remember to keep the long-term goal in mind.
3. Size matters
Restrictive diets don’t only limit the types of foods you eat, but most also demand that you severely cut back on the amount of calories you consume each day, but hundreds or even thousands. Such an extreme change can wreak havoc on your health, energy, and mood, not to mention your long-term goals. Studies show that the amount of food we eat is just as important as what we’re eating, and finding healthy moderation is key. Learn about healthy portion sizes and tips on how to stick to them with these 5 steps to perfect portion control.
4. Clean food is healthy food
You don’t need pre-made microwave dinners, strange meal-replacement shakes, or mysterious foreign herbal concoctions to lose weight—all you need is clean and natural foods and a little information about the best ways to eat them. Stock your kitchen with fresh produce, lean protein, whole grains, and good fats. Avoid “replacing” or skipping meals—neither are successful weight-loss strategies. Instead, make meals a priority. Take the time to prepare wholesome, fresh dishes and plan ahead. Nothing can replace the nutrition a balanced diet provides.
5. Indulgence is sometimes a good thing
A strict, no-fuss diet plan that doesn’t leave room for any concessions is a guaranteed failure when it comes to long-term results. You’re not going to magically stop loving cheese, lusting after chocolate cake, or craving french fries, so don’t pretend otherwise. Putting pressure on yourself to stay away from foods you already love will only stress you out and end in a guilt-inducing binge fest. Instead, give yourself a break and indulge every once in awhile. Remember: It’s all about balance and moderation. So have that cake at your sister’s birthday party—and then get right back on the healthy wagon.
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