My Simple Six-Step Strategy For Healthy Weight Loss
Like many people, I have struggled to maintain a healthy body weight throughout much of my life. For years I was on a weight loss roller coaster, experimenting with one diet after another. Then, four years ago, I discovered a strategy that helped me loose over 80lbs and maintain a healthy body weight with relative ease.
My strategy is a result of trial and error, using tips and tools taken from a variety of diets that I have tried over the years. It is influenced considerably by a paleolithic diet approach to eating and has similarities to Tim Ferris’ popular Slow Carb Diet.
This strategy is more than a way to shed excess body fat. It also helps rebuild your body with the nutrients it needs to become stronger and healthier. It’s the same strategy I followed to prepare for two Ironman triathlons.
It’s a simple approach and it works.
My simple six-step strategy for healthy weight loss:
Step 1: Listen, don’t measure
I believe that listening to your body is the most important factor for healthy weight loss. That’s why I don’t recommend measuring. 8oz of protein per meal may be too much for one person but too little for another. Cookie cutter approaches may work for some people, but they don’t work for most of us because we all have different needs.
Listen to your body. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat. Our bodies require varying amounts of food at varying times of the day depending on our activity levels.
When you do eat, don’t gorge. Use a small plate or bowl and eat small portions. If you’re still hungry after you’ve eaten, have seconds. An old Japanese saying—Hara hachi bunme—instructs people to stop eating when you are 80 percent full. This is an excellent reminder to listen to your body and avoid overeating.
Step 2: Eliminate gluten
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye oats and barley. Despite being one of the most common foods in a modern western diet, it is also one of the worst for our health. Gluten creates inflammation in our bodies, unbalances our hormone levels, contributes to unhealthy body weight and can result in significant health issues. While people with Celiac disease are most sensitive to gluten, it affects everyone’s health in a negative way.
An explanation of how gluten affects your health would require more space than I have in this post, but I encourage your to read further. Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution, provides the most comprehensive and scientifically backed explanation on the subject that I have found. You can also find an excellent excerpt from Robb’s book here at Tim Ferris’ blog.
Yes, I know that gluten is found in bread, cakes, cookies and a long list of other items that taste great, but it’s also destroying your health slowly. Don’t believe me? Try it out. For the next 30 days eliminate gluten from your diet, then refer to step 1 of this post and listen to your body. When I first eliminated gluten from my diet it took only three days before I saw significant changes in my energy levels, complexion and quality of sleep, to name but a few of the benefits.
I should note that dairy and other grains such as corn and rice have similar, but less problematic effects than gluten. Listen to your body and decide if they should be a part of your healthy diet.
Step 3: Eat protein at every meal
Protein is essential to life. Without it, we will die. Carbohydrates on the other hand are not essential to life. I make this point to underscore the importance of protein in your diet.
Whether it comes from animal or plant sources, it is important to have protein with every meal or snack. Not only is protein an essential building block for our bodies, it discourages overeating and helps us to feel satiated for longer periods of time.
When choosing animal proteins I encourage you to consider grass fed and organic sources. Not only are they healthier for you, they are also a more humane and environmentally friendly alternative.
Step 4: Eat vegetables at every meal
Vegetables provide an incredible number of vitamins and minerals to help build a healthy body. Choose a variety of bright and colorful veggies to eat at your meals throughout the week. It’s virtually impossible to gain unhealthy weight by eating too many veggies, so load them on to your plate.
One word of caution… Potatoes can be packed with goodness, but they also rank very high on the glycemic index and contain a high number of calories. Because of this combination, you should eat potatoes in moderation.
Step 5: Eat fruit in moderation
Fruits contain a number of vitamins and minerals that benefit our health, but similar to potatoes they are also high GI foods and can be high in calories. Try to eat fruits early in the day and in moderation.
Step 6: Don’t drink your calories
Soda, energy drinks and fruit juice all contain a high number of calories with little to no nutritional benefit. Avoid them if you want to maximize weight loss.
Of course it should come as no surprise that the best thing you can drink is water. If you want more flavorful beverages, try unsweetened tea or coffee. Vegetable juice can also be a good option, but remember that while it may be convenient, it is still not as nutritious as eating whole vegetables.
That’s it, my simple six-step strategy to healthy weight loss.
You’ll notice that I haven’t recommended any exercise as part of this strategy. I highly recommend that you make exercise a regular part of your life, but it isn’t necessary for weight loss. As I said in my recent post on strategies to get your exercise program back on track, it’s best to focus on one life change at a time. If exercise is currently part of your life, keep it up. If not, focus first on this strategy for healthy weight loss and then add exercise into your life at a later date.
This past winter I gained 20lbs. I could give you a long list of excuses why, but the truth is that I made poor food choices and stopped following my plan. Instead of becoming discouraged by this setback, I have chosen to view it as an opportunity to regain a healthier approach to eating.
Over the next 30 days I will journal about my weight loss here at Stop & Breathe. I will follow my strategy outlined below and will hold myself accountable to those of you who are interested in following along in the comments section.
This is also an opportunity for you. If you’re unhappy with your weight, I challenge you to join me for the next 30 days and regain control of your diet. Skeptical about whether or not this can work for you? Just try it. It’s only 30 days. What do you have to loose… other than weight?
What’s that? You say it’s not a good time? It’s never a good time. I have used that excuse over and over again. I have told myself that I’ll start eating well tomorrow, or that I’ll eat poorly just this one last time because I’m celebrating a special occasion. Well, tomorrow came and went and there was always something to celebrate.
My wife is due to give birth to our first child tomorrow. I can’t think of a more inconvenient time in my life to start a challenge of this kind, but I am. If you want to make a change, now’s the time.
You may also be interested in reading 20 Tips and Tricks to Fast Track Healthy Weight Loss.