The Secret to a Healthy Weight: There is No Secret

*This is an article I posted a few years ago on another blog, but, looking back, feel it is still just as relevant so I’m re-posting it here. Enjoy!*

When people ask, “What’s the secret to losing (or gaining or maintaining) weight?” I say:

There is no secret, just 3 simple steps.

There is no secret recipe, ingredient, or exercise that will catapult you to your ideal weight. There is no pill or short-term diet that will cause you to lose (or gain) 20 pounds AND maintain it. And, most importantly, none of these things alone will make you HAPPY with your body.

This article will help you with your weight loss goals, but it is not necessarily all about weight loss. Often times, we think, if I lost just 5 pounds, I’d be happy, when the truth is that losing those 5 pounds really isn’t the issue. The issue goes deeper than the number on the scale (which isn’t always a true reflection of our overall health anyway). This article is for everyone who wants to find happiness and satisfaction with themselves and with their bodies. Part of this may be reaching a healthy weight, or it may be learning to love the weight you’re at. Whatever your individual case may be, we can all have a body that is healthy and about which we are happy by following three simple steps.

Right Mind

The first, and arguably most important, step to reaching or maintaining a healthy, happy weight is cultivating the right mindset. You have to let go of this idea that it’s all about some number on a scale. That’s not to say that the number doesn’t have some importance. If you are too overweight or too underweight, that is certainly not healthy, and part of your goal may be to lower or raise that number.

But that shouldn’t be your primary goal.

It is too easy to get too caught up in this number or that number, ultimately causing you to lose sight of the true objective: to be healthy. So the first part of cultivating the right mindset is shifting your focus from your weight to your health, both physical and emotional. Beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes, and true beauty radiates from within. If you are healthy and confident in yourself (including your body), your beauty will undoubtedly shine through.

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The second part of cultivating the right mindset is setting achievable, short-term goals all aimed at improving and maximizing your health. You don’t have to change everything you’re doing all at once. Choose one thing each month that you want to work on and that will help you on your path to your ultimate goal. For example, this month you may want to reduce the amount of sugar you consume. Next month, maybe you increase your core strength. The month after, you may decide to work on flexibility in your hips and legs. Having smaller and achievable short-term goals builds confidence, increases success, and keeps you engaged in the long run.

Lastly, don’t take things too seriously. Have fun with your journey! Challenge yourself. Reward yourself. Take it slow. If something doesn’t go exactly the way you had hoped, that’s ok. As long as you are working towards your goals, you are progressing and improving.

In sum, right mind involves:

  • Focusing on health
  • Building confidence
  • Recognizing your inner beauty
  • Setting achievable, short-term goals
  • Not taking things so seriously

Right Diet

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The second step to reaching your healthy, happy weight is finding the right diet.

Why is the right diet important? Because how you’re eating can make ALL the difference. Your diet affects not just your weight, but your overall health, energy, and mood. It is well established that the standard Western Diet, notoriously high in carbohydrates and calories, is the culprit behind countless negative health effects including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is likely that this Diet also increases the risk of depression, dementia, and other mental health conditions by shrinking the brain, that’s right, shrinking the brain. A diet rich in whole fats, protein, fruits, vegetables, and minimal grains can actually reverse these negative effects.

When we start eating the way we’re supposed to be eating, not only do we start to look better, but we start to feel better as well. You’ll have more energy, less cravings, better sleep, and better mood.

Here’s a few tips to help you achieve the right diet:

  • If you’re going to eat grains, stick to mostly ancient whole grains like farro, quinoa, amaranth, spelt, and millet
  • Use olive or coconut oil instead of canola and other processed vegetable oils
  • Replace carbs/sugars with whole fats like heavy cream, avocado, grass-fed butter, whole-fat cheese, and coconut oil (but watch serving size as just a small amount of fat can contain lots of calories!)
  • Rather than snacking on a granola bar, have a full-fat string cheese or a handful of mixed nuts
  • If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. And no, your metabolism in not going to spiral downward if you skip a meal here or there. Our bodies are designed to handle short periods of famine.

Right Exercise

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The last step is finding the right exercise. Exercise is an important part of increasing energy, endurance, and strength and of improving mood and health in general. It seems like everywhere we turn someone is touting this workout or that workout as an almost magical regimen. While many of those workouts are effective when done properly and in their entirety, most people I know drop out less than halfway through because they just don’t enjoy it.

The right exercise is something you get pleasure out of, something that makes you feel good and energized and content. It’s hard to continue doing something you don’t enjoy and it’s hard to succeed at it. If you love high-intensity, explosive exercise, go for it! If you prefer going for a walk in the park or playing tennis, then do that. Challenge yourself and try different things, but don’t force yourself to do something you hate or that doesn’t feel good. If you really hate running, but you love bike riding then go bike riding.

You may find that one month you really enjoy plyo workouts and the next month you just want to do yoga. As long as you’re challenging yourself and getting enough physical activity, you will see results. Now, as a disclaimer, if you have vary specific goals, for example, if you are training for a competition, this will not work for you. Very specific goals like that do require very specific training. But for the purposes of reaching and maintaining a healthy, happy weight, it is best to find what you enjoy and what is sustainable in the long-term.

The right exercise also means to listen to your body. Don’t over do it and end up injuring yourself. Take the right precautions and always use proper biomechanics.

Reaching your healthy, happy weight may not be easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated either. If you follow these three simple steps, you will get there! Remember, health and happiness are a journey so take one step at a time and enjoy the ride!

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