Having a healthy body weight is essential for a long, healthy life.
Obesity and overweight can bring lots of health issues to your body, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
They may also lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Therefore, it is important to lose excessive body weight.
While a healthy diet, regular exercise, and good night’s sleep are important for weight loss, you need to have a strong will to control your body weight and improve your lifestyle.
Here are 6 steps to change your behavior so that you can lose weight effectively:
Set clear goals for your weight loss
First, you need to set a clear goal for your weight loss. Most people trying to lose weight focus on the number change on the scale.
However, the most productive areas to focus on are the dietary and physical activity changes that can lead to long-term weight change.
Your goals should be specific, attainable, and less than perfect. For example, “exercise more” is a good goal, but it’s not specific.
A better one is “walk 5 miles every day”. It is specific and measurable, but it may be hard to do if you’re just starting out.
Another better one is “walk 30 minutes every day”. It is more attainable, but what happens if you’re held up at work one day or there’s a thunderstorm/snow during your walking time? The goal is too perfect.
The best one is this: “Walk 30 minutes, 5 days each week”. This goal is specific, doable, and forgiving.
Use strategies to help you reach the final goal
When you try to lose weight, a good strategy using a series of short-term goals that can help you reach the goal.
For example, you want to eat less fat in your daily diet. You can try reducing fat intake from 40% of calories to 35% of calories to 30% of calories.
It is based on the concept that “nothing succeeds like success.”
Shaping uses two important behavioral principles: (1) consecutive goals that move you ahead in small steps are the best way to reach a distant point; and (2) consecutive rewards keep the overall effort invigorated.
Reward yourself for achieving your goals
Because weight loss is hard work, you need to reward yourself frequently. An effective reward can something desirable, timely, and dependent on meeting your goal.
The rewards you give to yourself can be material (e.g., a movie or music CD, new clothes, or other things you like) or an action of self-care (e.g., an afternoon off from work, a spa or massage).
These frequent small rewards, earned for meeting smaller goals, are more effective than bigger rewards that require a long, difficult effort.
Self-monitor your diet, exercise, and weight
“Self-monitoring” here means you observe and record your daily habits, such as calorie intake, servings of fruits and vegetables, physical activity, etc., and the outcome of the habits, such as body weight.
People often use self-monitoring when they are not sure how they’re doing, and at times when they want to improve their habits.
The benefit of self-monitoring is that it can move you closer to the desired direction and can produce “real-time” records for you and your doctor.
While you may or may not wish to weigh yourself every day while losing weight, regular monitoring of your weight can be very important to help you maintain your lower weight.
When you try to monitor your weight, you can make a graph, which is easier to read than a list of numbers.
Also, remember that one day’s diet and exercise patterns may not influence your weight the next day.
And the water change in your body can change the scale number but it’s nothing to do with your weight-management effort.
Avoid triggers for excessive eating
Some social or environmental cues may encourage undesired eating, and you should change or avoid those cues.
For example, you may learn from self-monitoring records that you’re more likely to overeat while watching Netflix, in your office coffee pot, or when around a certain friend.
You can try to change the situation by separating the association of eating from the cue (don’t eat while watching Netflix), avoiding the cue (leave the coffee room fast after getting your coffee), or changing the environment (meet your friend in another place that does not serve food).
Help your brain know you are full
Changing the way you go about eating can make it easier to eat less without feeling unsatisfied. Usually, it takes about 15 minutes for your brain to know that you are full.
That is why eating slowly can help you feel satisfied. Also eating lots of vegetables and fruits can make you feel fuller.
You can also try to use smaller plates so that moderate portions do not appear too small.
Experts also suggest that you change eating schedule can be helpful.
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