Are you trying to shed a few extra pounds and get fit, but leery of commercial weight management programs or fad diets?
If your answer is ‘YES!’ then I have some good news for you. If you want to go it alone, it appears that science is on your side.
HOW You Diet Makes a Difference:
The approach you take when losing weight has the potential to affect your ability to keep the weight off. There are many ‘diets’ and plans available to help you lose weight, but according to many studies, (and here) individuals who utilized a weight loss approach that was self guided and self monitored had a better chance of keeping the weight off than those on a regimented plan.
Granted, the same was not true for initial weight loss, which most diets and programs are able to accomplish. Most diets work to help you lose the weight at first, but not all methods are equal in helping you maintain the weight loss.
Why do the people who use a self guided approach along with self monitoring tend to find success where others do not?
Two factors come into play; knowledge and habit.
The self guided dieter, by definition, needs to learn what foods, and how much will get them to their goal. Those who are successful at maintaining their weight also practice what they learn, which is one of the best reinforcements.
Self monitoring, in the form of a food diary or log gives the individual a literal record of what is working and what is not.
The act of recording each meal makes meal planning and thinking about what you eat a habit. If you continually think about what you eat, you become a mindful eater and are less prone to eat out of boredom, when not hungry or when tempted to a second helping even if your body and your blue jeans do not need the surplus energy supply.
Think about this; if you are given a strict diet to follow, or join a program where the food is measured, prepackaged and sold to you as a done for you meal, what will you learn?
What habits will you take away from the experience? You will most likely lose weight if you adhere to the program, but what happens when you reach your goal?
Unless you plan to follow that diet indefinitely, at some point you have to learn to eat properly to maintain the weight loss-there is just no easy way around it.
If you do join a weight loss program, the plans with the most long term success are those that teach you how to eat, not plans that prescribe exactly what you ‘should’ eat. This is good news for folks that want to lose weight from home.
Losing weight from home is not only do-able, it may lead to greater long term success.
The issue of FOOD: What should you eat?
The food that makes up your diet is a very personal issue, one you should give a lot of thought to as part of your learning process and weight loss journey. For the reasons just listed above, giving you a specific diet may not be the most helpful.
Below are a few basic guidelines to consider. Just remember there are no hard and fast rules, what works for you may not work for another and vice versa.
Fruits and Veggies
One 24 year long study involving data from over 100,000 people proved that increasing overall fruit intake was associated with weight loss. Berries, apples and pears were the fruits with the strongest association to weight loss.
Vegetables were also associated with weight loss, except for starchy high glycemic load vegetables like potatoes, corn and peas. Vegetables with the highest correlation were high in fiber and had the lowest glycemic load. This would include vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower.
What is the glycemic index and why does it matter?
All foods fall somewhere between 0 and 100 on the glycemic scale/index. This scale measures carbohydrates and ranks how a food changes blood sugar levels. High GI foods absorb into the body quickly and spike blood sugar.
Low glycemic foods have a gradual effect on blood sugar. When blood sugar rises quickly, insulin rises along with it. Spikes in insulin can cause hunger and insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and weight gain.
Sugar, refined flour, refined carbohydrates and processed foods are usually high on the glycemic index and low in nutritional value, yet full of empty calories.
Alcohol is not necessarily high on the GI index, but it offers little nutritional values and adds empty calories that don’t do much for your body except pack on pounds.
Cooking your own meals
Regular and consistent consumption of home cooked meals also has a correlation with weight loss and maintenance. If an individual, or someone in their home cooks dinner regularly, even if they are not specifically trying to lose weight, they will have a higher quality diet. Researchers said it is likely because cooking at home produces meals with less calories, fat and sugar than restaurant, fast food and convenience type foods.
Behaviors associated with highest success maintaining weight loss:
Two tools showed up in study after study; food diaries or logs and weigh-ins.
Documenting everything you eat, whether done on paper, computer or phone app is a behavior strongly associated with weight maintenance. This is likely because a food log can be a great tool when learning what is working and what is not.
As stated previously, a food diary also raises awareness and leads to mindful eating. You can use a food diary to review days you were particularly hungry, or days you had low energy and see what you ate that day to find patterns. A food log will reveal why you are gaining or losing weight if it is accurate.
Many studies revealed weight loss was associated with consistency in how often you weigh yourself. Ideally you should weigh yourself at least once a week around the same time of day.
The scale does not lie. Just be aware especially if you are working out and gaining muscle that muscle is denser than fat, so you can lose fat, gain muscle, be ‘smaller’ and theoretically weigh more. If you believe this is the case, taking measurements of your waist, arms and legs can help you gauge progress.
The Role Exercise Plays:
Diet is not the only component to successfully losing weight from home. Exercise plays an important role in successful maintenance and weight loss.
You probably won’t be shocked to learn that people who did not maintain their weight loss also reported a decline in physical activity.
Exercise and diet should not be thought of as events with a limited time frame. To have true success, and the best health, these two things need to be a part of your lifestyle.
That is why your diet is so personal; it should include things you like to eat, have available in your area and be made of foods that you can eat every day indefinitely.
The same idea applies to exercise. Success will come from making exercise a habit. It is imperative that the exercise is an activity you enjoy doing or it will be hard to stay with it.
Those that exercise 30 minutes per day and added physical activities such as taking the stairs every day are more successful at losing weight. Those who take exercise even further and keep track of exercise using a tracker achieved significantly more weight loss, had less difficulty with exercise and exercised more often. (resource)
Working out at home
A home gym can be as simple as a workout mat, a few weights and a TV, to more elaborate home gyms with cardio and weight machines.
You can get a solid workout at home, you don’t have to get a gym membership or join a sports team to get fit. You can use the garage, a spare room, a corner of your bedroom or even workout outside.
Make a plan
Success comes from planning. Plan to work out 5 or 6 days a week for 30 minutes to an hour. Ideally your routine should include cardio and strength or resistance training. Cardio can be simple, like jump roping, burpees or even fitness videos found online.
Resistance training can be done using body weight exercises like push ups and triceps dips. If you search Pinterest you can find premade charts that list many body weight exercises you can do at home.
Adding a set of weights expands your options even more. There are literally 1000’s of exercises you can do at home with simple equipment. Find them using a simple internet search and you never need to be bored with your home workout.
We wish you success as you set out to lose weight and get fit from home.