Most people who are overweight got to where they are today by practising poor lifestyle habits.
Here is a list of the 10 most common of these habits and some suggestions about how to change them.
Habit 1. Being inactive
Weight gain, weight maintenance and weight loss are all based on a very simple principle. If you consume more calories than you need over the long term you’ll put on weight (approximately 1 pound per extra 3,500 calories). If you consume the same amount of calories than your body needs to function and perform the activity you do each day, you’ll maintain the same weight. And if you consume fewer calories that your body burns to function and perform the activities you do each day, you’ll lose weight.
Simple isn’t it.
So if it’s so simple, why are so many of us overweight and don’t know why or what to do about it? It just doesn’t make sense. If you are overweight and you are largely inactive and practice one or more of the other 9 habits below, get serious about exercise. And it doesn’t matter what you do, just that you do something. Anything!
If the thought of exercise scares you, start off simply by walking around your block each day and when you can do that, walk around 2 blocks, then 3, then 4, then 5 and so on until you’re walking for at least 30 minutes per day. If you do this and you’re careful not to eat more than you currently are (always be aware that our body wants to maintain its current weight or status – known scientifically as homeostasis – and because you’ll be burning extra calories your body will tell you that it needs more food) I promise you will start to lose weight (slowly but surely) and you’ll feel great.
In fact, once your self-esteem and enthusiasm for life starts to return, chances are you’ll find yourself being more adventurous with the activities you try than you ever imagined and you’ll give bike riding, jogging or working out at your local gym a go.
Habit 2. They eat out a lot
There are two potential evils at work here as far as our weight is concerned:
1.Restaurants serve larger portions that we need.
2.Restaurants serve food that primarily appeals to our taste buds.
Basically, restaurants are not in business to help us lose weight; they’re in business to make money for their owners. In order to compete with other restaurants and home cooked meals, they serve large meals that represent value for money and they sacrifice all else for taste so that we will choose to eat in them.
If you eat out often and want to lose weight, try some of these suggestions:
- If you must eat out, have a salad;
- Order a entrée sized meal for your main course;
- Drink a glass of water before and during your meal;
- Limit the glasses of alcohol you consume with your meal;
- If you are going to have dessert, make it the exception rather than the rule and share it with others at the table;
- If your meal doesn’t come with vegetables, order them as a side dish and eat them first;
- If your meal comes with a calorie dense sauce, ask to have it on the side and only use half of it on your meal;
- Limit the amount of bread you eat with your meal (especially white bread);
- If you can’t order an entrée sized meal as your main, move a quarter or half of the meal to one side and leave that portion uneaten at the end of the meal;
- Try a vegetarian meal for a change or an Asian style dish with fish, rice and vegetables;
- If you have a choice, go for grilled or baked food rather than fried.
Habit 3. They eat fast and they eat portions that are too big
The right amount of food is that which fills the plate right? Wrong!
We actually need far less food to survive than most of us think. Combine larger portions than we need with the fact that most of the food on our plate these days is very calorie dense and it’s not hard to see why most of us are now overweight.
Here are some suggestions to help you reduce your portion sizes:
- Simply serve yourself less;
- Use smaller plates;
- Slowly reduce the size of your portions over a number of weeks;
- Start accepting that it is perfectly ok to throw uneaten food away;
- Change the ratio of food on your plate (increase the amount of vegetables for example and decrease the amount of meat or chicken);
- Change what’s on your plate (for example, if there aren’t any vegetables, make room for some);
- Don’t allow yourself to eat seconds;
- As soon as the meal is finished, put all leftovers in containers in the fridge or in the bin.
Habit 4. They miss less obvious calorie burning opportunities
Why is it that the spaces in car parks closest to the front door of shops always fill up first? Or that we get upset if we misplace the remote control for the TV? Simply because none of us wants to walk any further than is absolutely necessary or exert any more energy than it absolutely necessary. If you are trying to lose weight, you have to adopt a different outlook and approach, you need to start looking for and creating opportunities to walk more and exert as much energy during your day as possible.
Instead of watching TV, try:
- washing the car;
- walking the dog;
- mowing the lawn;
- doing the dishes;
- walking to the shops or a friends place;
- take the stairs instead of the escalators or lift.
If you work in an office:
- go for a 10, 20 or 30 minute walk at lunch;
- conduct the odd meeting walking around the block instead of in a stuffy meeting room;
- walk to the shops for lunch instead of driving;
- catch the bus or train to work once or twice a week instead of driving.
Habit 5. They eat a lot of calorie dense, low nutrition foods
In plain English, they just can’t say no to a bar of chocolate, packet of chips, a donut or a slice of birthday cake. In fact, many overweight people snack on large amounts of junk food in between meals. For example, it’s not uncommon for very overweight people to visit a popular drive-thru and pick up a burger and fries on the way home for dinner. If you are going to lose weight and keep it off, there is no point denying yourself the foods you like, chocolate for example. Just don’t eat it as often and don’t eat as much.
Habit 6. They are typically emotional eaters
Emotional eaters use food to help regulate their mood.
The typical emotional eater:
- eats when they’re not hungry;
- uses food as a personal reward;
- eats when they are upset;
- bottles up their emotions, particularly negative ones;
- continues eating until uncomfortably full;
- has low self esteem.
To help overcome this problem, people who emotionally eat should:
- try to become more aware of their motives for eating;
- change their reward system (go to the movies or for a walk);
- be honest with themselves and others and express any negative emotions;
- eat more slowly and consider the portion control suggestions above;
- learn to love themselves for who they are.
Habit 7. They skip breakfast
It is amazing how many overweight people skip meals, particularly breakfast. Now you think that this would help them lose rather than gain weight wouldn’t you? Well it doesn’t and there are many research studies that prove this very fact.
You see, when you skip meals, there are again two evils at work.
1. Your body thinks it is starving and it slows your metabolism down;
2.When you do finally eat, you make up for the missed meal and then some.
Do you really want to lose weight? If the answer is yes:
- start eating small meals more often (every two hours or so);
- never, ever skip breakfast.
Habit 8. They consume too much alcohol
This is probably more common among men that women on the whole but regardless, people often forget that alcohol is very high in “empty” calories. “Empty” calories contribute no nutritional value whatsoever to the body, but add significantly to our total daily calorie consumption. Sometimes this over consumption accounts for the majority of some peoples weight problem and they can successfully reduce their weight dramatically simply by cutting down on the amount of alcohol consumed each week.
Are you drinking a little too much?
Habit 9. They look for quick and easy fixes
Let’s get one thing straight, there are no magic weight loss pills, potions, diets or drinks.
Have you ever noticed that when one of the “Current Affair” type programs on TV are giving us the latest scoop on the next breakthrough wonder diet pill, that they always say at the very last minute, “when combined with daily exercise and healthier eating”? It happens every time!
Forget waiting for a magic solution, you body needs you to shed weight today. And the only successful long term way for you to do this is to follow some of the suggestions above and start moving your body more and controlling what you eat. Of course this doesn’t mean that you can’t get help to lose weight, that’s what this website is all about, helping you to get that help. Take a look in our directory section and you find hundreds of weight loss professionals, from personal trainers to dietitians whose job it is to help you lose weight and become a happier healthier person.
Habit 10. They use denial and excuses
Often we see people who have lost a significant amount of weight talk about their success and state when shown images of how they used to look that “I had no idea I looked that bad”.
Some of us don’t see ourselves as we really are, as others see us and that it might help us if we did. And it’s not just how we look, more importantly; it’s about what’s going on inside us that we don’t see. Many overweight people have weak hearts, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular and coronary problems that could eventually kill them. In these instances, the old “it will never happen to me” adage is just not good enough. These threats are real!
How many of us are in denial about how big and unhealthy we really are?
When we see photos of ourselves we can certainly see it, but we don’t look at our own photos everyday to remind us. When our doctor tells us that we are heading into dangerous territory, do we really believe them? For our health’s sake, in both instances, we should. In addition to living a life in denial, may overweight people use excuses instead of action to protect their self esteem from further damage and to provide themselves with permission to refrain from taking action. If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time for you to stop looking for excuses and start looking for solutions to what in some cases is a life-threatening problem.
Most people who are overweight got to where they are today by practising poor lifestyle habits.
The list above of the 10 most common of these habits and the accompanying suggestions about how to change them have been written to help those who are overweight identify and reverse the unhealthy lifestyle habits most relevant to them.
Good luck and remember, you can become happier and healthier if you really want to.
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