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Healthy Weight Loss Without Dieting

The scale isn't the secret to healthy weight loss.

We’re barraged constantly with fad diets and weight loss schemes, yet the majority of Americans are overweight and obese. Something is wrong here.

My friend Mike over at Urban Organic Gardener posted something yesterday that really struck a chord for me. He was talking about how dieting doesn’t translate to sustained weight loss for most people and mentioned his girlfriend as an example. When his girlfriend switched from fad dieting to eating real food and staying active, she lost 30 pounds and has kept it off long term.

The Focus on Weight

I had a similar experience to Mike’s girlfriend. Though I’ve never been severely overweight, I struggled with body image and food issues. I would restrict calories and drop a bunch of weight, then go back to eating regular food and yo-yo up to my previous weight.

Not only is yo-yo dieting terrible for your body, it’s an unhealthy mental state to be in. When you diet, you’re tying your weight to your self worth. Is that how you want to measure your progress?

Yes, if you’re unhealthily overweight, you need to do something about it to avoid obesity-related illness, but I think focusing on weight isn’t the way to do it.

True Healthy Weight Loss

Mike really nails the secret to healthy weight loss in his post. It’s not about counting calories or even getting on the scale. It’s about taking look at your lifestyle and asking yourself honest questions.

Are you sedentary most of the time? Do you eat a lot of processed foods? Do you tend to eat too many sweets? Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables?

If you work a desk job, there’s no way you’re getting enough exercise unless you’re making an effort to get moving. You don’t have to join a gym. You can do yoga in your living room. Go walking or running with a friend. Ride your bike to run short errands instead of taking the car. No matter how you choose to do it, staying active is key to maintaining a healthy weight.

I know that making dietary changes is tough, but the payoff in terms of your health is so worth it. You don’t have to give up sweets or even junk food entirely. Folks might not all be crazy about Veggie Monster, but I think Sesame Street got it right with “a cookie is a sometimes food.”

Baby Steps to Better Health

Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy. You’re going to have setbacks, hit walls. There will be mornings that you can’t face that pair of running shoes. During those tough moments, it’s important to remember that this isn’t about your waistline – it’s about staying healthy.

You don’t have to change everything at once. Can’t face cutting back on processed foods right away? Maybe you can start by adding exercise to your routine several times a week. If exercise seems daunting, focus on eating whole, real food and work in the exercise once you’re comfortable with your dietary changes.

Taking small steps like this can help you make a sustainable, long-term change that’s healthy for your body and your mind.

I know most of you guys probably eat pretty healthily. Did you grow up eating the Standard American Diet (SAD)? Did you notice any changes in how you felt when you started changing your eating habits from the SAD to one based on real, healthy food?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by alancleaver

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