weight loss - mind games
It finally struck me that we have a serious weight problem in this country. I read this week that the IRS is going to give tax write-offs for certain diet and weight loss programs. If the Feds are willing to give up their precious revenue to encourage people to trim down, then the problem must be reaching epidemic proportion.
According to a recent study by Tufts University, Sixty-three percent of men and 55 percent of women over the age of 25 are overweight. Nearly one-quarter are obese, meaning they are at least 30 percent over their ideal weight. "It really is an epidemic," states James Hill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. "If being overweight were an infectious disease we would have mobilized the country. We would have declared a state of emergency.
Two factors of our contemporary society have contributed to this serious problem. Our over-indulgent eating habits and our sedentary lifestyle. And in order to successfully shed those unwanted pounds we must change our diet and increase our physical activity.
But most of all we must go through a mental paradigm shift. And what exactly does that mean? To succeed in reaching our fitness and weight goals we must modify our minds and alter our perception of our self. Researchers are finding that people who successfully lose weight and keep it off just don't alter the way they eat and exercise, they also go through behavior modification. They change habits that are deeply ingrained.
There are a number of techniques to assist you in making this leap of faith. This is not a bunch of cheerleading mantras from fitness gurus. These are methods found to be effective in various studies and research:
Believe in Change
First, you must believe that you can change. If you feel that you are in control of your weight and your physical self you can make a transformation. Jane Ogden, Ph.D., a health psychologist at Guy Kings and St., Thomas' School of Medicine in London, found that woman who believed their weight problem was caused by their own choice and not genetics or metabolism, were more likely to succeed. Many people subconsciously believe they cannot lose weight. Once you realize you are in control, you can then strive for results.
Visualize a Different You
This does not mean to envision yourself as a Victoria Secret or GQ model. You want a realistic vision of a slimmer, fitter you. Focus on that vision daily. We all have had visions that later became reality, it is part of our human nature. Apply this technique to losing weight and getting in shape.
Alter Your Eating Habits
Some people are able to dramatically change their diet and achieve instant results. How about the guy who only ate Subway sandwiches twice a day and lost considerable weight? A few can adjust to radical shifts in their eating habits, but most can't. Many who go on crash and fad diets end up going back to their poor eating habits and gaining more weight. In fact, up to 95% will put the weight back on.
Ten years ago the thought of a gyros or a two fisted burger made me drool. As I get older and my body requires higher maintenance, I have found it necessary to alter my eating habits in order to maintain an active life style. My diet didn't change overnight. It was a gradual change that required one part discipline and another part will power. I can't remember the last time I have eaten a gyro, although on a rare occasion a juicy burger is hard to resist. What is interesting is not only the change in my eating habits, but also my physical reaction to those fatty foods. I can immediately feel a negative affect from a burger and fries. My body has literally become addictive to healthy foods. When I compromise my diet I go through withdrawals.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Diets are not enough to lose weight, and they obviously do not get us back in shape. When you diet you not only lose fat, but also muscle. The decrease in muscle mass results in a slower body metabolism, which in turn reduces our ability to burn calories. To consistently lose weight we need to create a calorie deficiency. Building muscles and burning calories will lose the fat. When you develop a pound of muscle, it requires an extra 350 calories per week to sustain. The benefits are not just during the time you exercise, you actually use up more calories when you sleep or are inactive. Your body is naturally more efficient.
You want to combine cardiovascular exercise (aerobics, running, walking, swimming, cycling.) with strength training. Make exercise a vital and consistent part of your life. According to the National Weight Control Registry, people who have on average lost 60 pounds for five years or more, indicate that exercise is crucial for both losing and maintaining weight loss.
Take it Slow
It has taken years for most of us to get overweight and out of shape. Why would you think you could reverse this process overnight? We all want instant gratification, but the road to health and fitness is an arduous journey. Establish realistic short-term goals. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine showed that obese men and women who set a more modest goal of losing just 5-10 percent of their body weight are more likely to succeed than are those who set more extreme goals.
Focus on losing a few pounds and concentrate on starting a moderate exercise routine. Once you have reached your achievable goals you not only lose weight, but you will also enhance your self-esteem.
It is time to modify that behavior and make that paradigm shift. This time next year you could be that healthy and fit person you envision.
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