1) PRAY! This step is the most crucial one and needs to be done on a continual basis.
Philippians 4:6 tells us not to be anxious about anything, “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I know there are individuals out there who are anxious or concerned about their weight and overall health. And God says that we are to bring EVERY situation to Him in prayer. If you’re facing a weight loss challenge, enlist God’s help! He knows the desires of your heart and wants to grant them to you.
2) EAT BREAKFAST! It’s amazing how many people refuse to eat a healthy breakfast every morning. People say they’re just not hungry in the morning or they don’t have time to eat breakfast, but this is really critical to the losing and maintaining process.
When you skip breakfast, you’re actually fasting for 15 to 20 hours, so you’re not producing the enzymes needed to metabolize fat to lose weight. Eating breakfast is a daily habit for the “successful losers” who belong to The National Weight Control Registry. These people have maintained a 30-pound (or more) weight loss for at least a year, and some as long as six years.
Take the time to eat a healthy breakfast every day with foods like oatmeal, strawberries, walnuts, and low-fat yogurt and prevent binging on chips and candy bars at 10AM.
3) EXERCISE EVERY DAY! Regular exercise is an important part of effective weight control as it burns up those excess calories that otherwise would be stored as fat. It also acts as an appetite suppressant and releases endorphins, which give an overall feeling of well-being. Studies show that even the most inactive people can gain significant health benefits if they accumulate just 30 minutes of some physical activity per day. A good start is to do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise most days of the week plus some form as muscle strengthening activity and stretching at least two to three times a week.
Walking is an activity that anyone can do and you don’t need any expensive equipment or gym membership to do it. It just takes time and commitment. And, write down your exercise routine every day to monitor your activity. If you stick with it, you’ll be surprised at how fast you progress and it will further motivate you.
Before starting any exercise program, be sure to talk with your doctor as they can offer suggestions about which type of program would be best for you.
4) WRITE IT DOWN! In a recent study of more than 1,500 overweight and obese adults published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, participants who kept food journals lost almost double the weight of their non-journaling counterparts. Food diaries force you to be aware of your habits and eating patterns and can highlight pitfalls that you may have never noticed. And now with the advent of Smartphone applications, you can track your food intake AND your exercise routine on your phone without having to drag a notebook around with you everywhere you go.
5) WATCH YOUR PORTION SIZES! Research has shown that Americans often underestimate how many calories they are consuming each day by as much as 25%. You look at a wrapper and it says only 200 calories, so you feel pretty good about your choice of food…until you notice that the 200 calories is PER SERVING and that there are three servings in the package! Serving size can usually be approximated by the size of your fist. So use that when picking out a piece of meat, bread, pasta, or even a bagel. The way fast food is super-sized nowadays, you NEVER want to upgrade to a large variety.
You can also maintain portion control by using smaller dishes at home, never eating out of the bag or carton, and sharing meals or desserts at restaurants. You can also usually ask for half portions.
6) DRINK 8-10 GLASSES OF WATER A DAY! Drinking plenty of water keeps you hydrated and allows your kidneys to flush out any excess water in your body. It also helps to make your stomach feel fuller so you will be less hungry. In fact, many people eat because they are actually thirsty and not hungry.
7) EAT SMALLER MEALS THROUGHOUT THE DAY! Our bodies need some form of nutrition about every three hours. That is why we get so ravenous when we skip meals. When you add a healthy snack between meals, you decrease the likelihood of overeating and you eliminate those periods of time when you seem to have no energy. Some healthy snacks include low fat yogurt or popcorn, fruit, vegetables like carrots or celery, or string cheese.
8) KEEP HEALTHY FOODS AVAILABLE: It’s important that you PLAN on what you will have on hand to eat when you either have a snack or your meals. These foods should include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, nonfat dairy products like yogurt, and fish and lean poultry. Planning is a must so that you don’t default to a less healthy choice out of desperate hunger. That means packing snacks if you will be away from home and making sure that you have the pantry stocked with the foods you will need to prepare healthy meals.
Also understand that you may need to be intentional at developing a taste and preference for certain foods that are good for you. When we made the switch from whole milk to skim, we did it gradually by drinking 2%, and then 1%, and finally the skim milk. Now, when we accidentally take a sip of whole milk, it tastes like cream. The same can be applied to fruits and vegetables in that we need to train our taste buds to actually prefer them to sugary or salty foods. So getting those unhealthy foods out of the house and forcing your family to eat the healthier alternatives is the first step to making a permanent lifestyle change.