Healthy eating makes you feel great, but when you start a weight loss plan, you may experience a temporary drop in energy. These tips will help you identify what is causing your lack of energy, and how to change it. Just remember to hang in there. Once your body adjusts to your new healthy lifestyle, your energy levels will soar!
Expect an adjustment period.
You will be tempted to adopt many new habits all at once, but remember that weight loss isn’t about short term changes. You will need to make gradual, long-term changes to create a healthy lifestyle. Cutting out all the foods you love, or jumping into strenuous workouts right away will leave you feeling drained, and set you up for failure. Instead of dropping your food intake from 2,200 to 1,200 calories in one day, try cutting out 200 calories daily and then increase your calorie deficit each week. This will help your body gradually adjust to your new eating patterns while maintaining your energy levels.
Monitor your calorie intake.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that women eat no fewer than 1,200 calories per day, and men no fewer than 1,700 calories per day for safe and effective weight loss. This doesn’t mean your intake needs to be this low. If you’ve eaten the same amount of calories for a week and still feel lethargic, slowly add back a few calories in the form of nutritious foods. The goal is to find a point of balance where you feel energized, but you have reduced calories enough to lose weight.
Eat more iron.
Over time, low iron intake can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which results in low energy levels. Eat high-protein, iron-rich foods -- such as beans, poultry, lean red meat, and nuts. The National Institutes of Health recommend that men aged 19 and older, and women aged 51 and older, get 8 mg of iron per day. Women aged 19 to 50 need 18 mg per day.
Focus on nutrition, not just calories.
It’s possible to reduce calories and lose weight while still eating processed foods that contain excess sodium and sugar. While you may lose weight, you won’t have the same energy levels as you would if you ate whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. This is because these foods also contain vitamins and minerals that support healthy body function. Include more fresh foods in your diet and decrease the amount of packaged foods you eat to increase your energy levels.
Eat more often.
When you go an extended period of time from one meal to the next, or skip meals all together, this causes problems with your metabolism and leaves you famished. Eating when you are hungry will help your body to trust that you are not starving it. In return, your body will reestablish a healthy metabolism that will help you reach a healthy weight.
Get the right amount of exercise.
Avoid jumping into exercise too quickly. If you haven’t worked up to an adequate fitness level, strenuous exercise will leave you exhausted. Make your goal to exercise enough to feel challenged, but not to the point where you are too exhausted and sore to move. Begin with 15 – 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as walking, 3 to 5 times per week. Each week, gradually add more time, more intensity, or new exercises as your fitness level improves. Soon you’ll be able to push through a tough workout and feel energetic afterward.
Lack of quality sleep will leave you drained of energy. Over time this can reduce your motivation to exercise, and you’ll lose focus. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Experiment with your sleep patterns until you find a time frame that allows you to wake feeling rested.
Many who lose weight eventually gain it back. But this doesn’t mean you have to fall into that category. The following 6 tips address the unique challenges of maintaining your hard-earned weight loss.
Adjust to your new calorie needs.
As you lose weight, the calories you need to maintain your smaller body will decrease. It’s important to continue with the healthy eating patterns you adopted during weight loss, and to pay attention to your calorie intake.
Exercise is critically important.
The National Weight Control Registry is an organization that tracks people who have successfully lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off. They found that 90% of those who have successfully maintained their weight exercise an average of 1 hour per day.
Seek new motivation.
Being overweight is a major motivator, and once this daily discomfort is no longer present, that motivator is gone. It’s important to seek new things that continue to motivate you. Start your day thinking about how far you've come, and how good you feel. This can be in the form of meditation, journal writing, or positive self-talk. Set new fitness goals every 6 months, such as registering for a race or trying new activities. Pin up a before and after picture on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Mentally remind yourself that your healthy behaviors have resulted in a healthier you.
Maintain your structure.
Weight maintenance becomes difficult when you stop doing the things that created structure in your day-to-day life. Part of your success came from grocery shopping with a list, pre-planning meals, mindful eating, food journaling, and scheduling exercise, so don't stop now. Maintain the schedule and structure in your life that made your goals a reality. These are the keys that will enable you to maintain your weight loss forever.
Continue to monitor your weight.
Seventy-five (75) percent of National Weight Control Registry members weigh in at least once per week. Monitoring fluctuations in your weight will help you get back on track before things get out of control. Although weight may vary daily, any more than a 5 pound weight gain should be a warning sign that you need to change your behaviors.
Make every day rewarding.
Celebrate every day like you did when you reached your goal weight. You still need things to look forward to, and these rewards will motivate you to keep the weight off. Use the money that you previously spent on fast food and purchase a new piece of clothing every month, register for a hobby class, or treat yourself to a yearly beach vacation.
Our ability to learn and remember is dependent on more than just the hours we spend studying a subject. Our daily activities can limit the cognitive declines associated with aging and can improve the parts of our brain that are responsible for learning and memory. Here are 4 easy ways you can boost your brain power.
Increase exercise intensity.
All exercise helps boost mood and brain activity, but intense exercise may be more beneficial for learning. A study published in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory found that vocabulary learning was 20% faster after high intensity exercise (sprinting) when compared to lower intensity exercise and rest.
Tip: Add 30 to 60 second bouts of jogging to your walking routine, or incorporate short sprints into your run. Both will increase the intensity of your workouts.
Eat apples and onions.
These foods contain the flavonoid quercetin. This antioxidant has been found to protect brain cells from the free radical damage that leads to cognitive decline and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Tip: Add thinly sliced apples and onions to your green salads, or make a Waldorf salad using chopped apples, diced onion, dried cranberries, Greek yogurt, and honey.
Start strength training.
Strength training is an important component of an effective exercise regimen. It builds muscle to make daily activities easier, tones the body to change the way you look, and it can help you better maintain your weight loss. If these benefits haven’t convinced you to strengthen your muscles, research now suggests that it will also help your brain. A recent study found that resistance exercise improved learning and memory as much as aerobic exercise.
Tip: Pumping iron at the gym isn’t a requirement. Add equipment-free moves to your workouts 2-3 days per week with push-ups, dips, squats, lunges, and abdominal exercises.
Taking time to clear your mind and meditate can have a significant influence on your mental wellbeing. One study shows it will boost your brain power as well. In the study, people who meditated for 30 minutes a day for 8 weeks showed positive changes in the density of gray matter in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with learning and memory.
Tip: Start by setting aside 5 minutes per day to be silent and focus on your breathing. Gradually add more time to your meditation sessions each week.
Replacing high-sugar soft drinks with low-calorie beverages is an easy dietary change that can impact your health in a big way. A 12-ounce soda contains 9 to 12 teaspoons of sugar. Extra-large drinks with nearly 48 ounces of soda contain 36 to 48 teaspoons of sugar. They also have 600 or more calories! It is easy to consume one-third to one-half of the calories your body needs on a daily basis through soft drinks alone. Choosing a lower calorie option will help you maintain a healthy weight.
One characteristic of soda that many people enjoy are the bubbles and fizz that come from carbonation. You don't have to give this up. There are many drinks that will satisfy your craving without the excess calories and sugar, or artificial sweeteners.
Carbonated waters come plain or lightly flavored with fruit essence, such as citrus or raspberry. Be sure to read labels and check for added sugar, artificial flavors, and sweeteners.
Reduce your use of plastic bottles, and purchase a home carbonator unit that allows you to carbonate water from your tap. This is an economical and environmentally friendly way to enjoy carbonated drinks. Add a slice of citrus fruit, or fruit essence flavors that can be purchased with the unit.
Spritzers are a great way to add variety. Mix one half carbonated water with one half fruit juice. Experiment with orange, grape, pineapple, grapefruit, and cranberry juices until you find a satisfying combination. Spritzers contain vitamins and half the calories compared to soda.
Juice mixed with shaved ice is another delicious option. There are many different snow cone makers and ice shavers available. Food processors and blenders can also pulverize ice cubes.
Tea is a good option if you are after a drink to quench your thirst, and do not want the carbonation. There are many varieties ranging from caffeine-free herbal teas to green and black teas. Enhance the flavor with a twist of lemon and mint leaves.
Creating a more exciting drink will make breaking the habit easier. Throw out the paper cups and treat yourself to a new set of brightly colored tumblers or elegant drinking glasses to celebrate your healthier drinks. You'll find it is much more satisfying to indulge in a nicely prepared drink than it is to pop open a sugary drink from a can.
The phrase "diets don't work" means that diets don't work in the long run. You may temporarily lose weight, but traditional approaches to dieting are not usually effective. If you simply go on a diet and don't permanently change your lifestyle, you will eventually gain back the weight.
Approximately 90 to 95% of dieters fail to keep the weight off permanently. This means that traditional dieting has a dismal success rate of only 5 to 10%.
It is estimated that about half of American women are on a diet at any given time. Despite this large number of dieting individuals, one-third of Americans obese.
So, what is the answer? We must revamp our lifestyles and permanently incorporate self-loving behaviors that include consuming healthy foods and performing daily enjoyable activities.
Crash diets are punishing, ineffective, and are often motivated by self-loathing and body dissatisfaction. Few people can sustain such a negative way of life. Instead, focus on the positive. Don't force yourself to live on grapefruit, bacon, or cabbage soup. Instead, find healthy foods that you enjoy. If you don't like to run, don't. Find a form of exercise that is enjoyable to you. You will find that making positive, healthy changes to your lifestyle can be very rewarding and reinforcing. The end result is a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle that is permanent.