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Pursuing a Healthy Lifestyle -- The Final Answer in Weight Maintenance

Guest article by Pamela Levesque
Healthy Living Program Coach at Good n Natural

Have you invested a great deal of dollars into weight loss programs, “magic” remedies or spent numerous hours calorie counting in an attempt to shed extra pounds?  Many dieters don’t understand why they fail in their weight loss efforts time and time again despite having tried a wide range of promised cures and solutions.  Although some interventionary-type of diets lead to actual weight loss, the success tends to be short-lived when there is no realistic program in place for keeping the weight off.  The reason many of these methods result in failure is that they offer quick fixes that simply slap a band aid on a deep wound. The only way to sufficiently and permanently counteract weight gain is to correct underlying issues and reverse deeply ingrained behavioral and thought patterns.  This involves a complete transformation that is the result of pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

Developing a healthy lifestyle leads to a wide range of health benefits.  However, it requires a number of changes in multiple areas of our lives.  Among these are: choosing the correct ingredients while incorporating moderation, variety and balance into a routine, changing our environment, shifting our focus and to fuelling our body with optimum nutrients rather than dwelling on the fact.

Although it is not the only component of a healthy lifestyle, choosing proper ingredients is a major factor in improved well-being, weight loss and managing health conditions.  When it comes to selecting ingredients, the focus should be on organic, whole, nutrient-dense foods.  These natural foods come in their most basic form.  Therefore, they have the most nutrients and the least ingredients and chemicals for the lowest amount of calories.  Aiming to consume a number of smaller meals every few hours that consist of appropriate portions of healthy foods that are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, fiber and healthy fats is key.  This, along with appropriate water intake, will enable us to feel full and minimize cravings while allowing the body to function optimally without consuming excess calories that ultimately lead to weight gain and weight loss prevention.  It is also helpful to vary and rotate food selection as much as possible and incorporate a range of these ingredients into meals.  By doing so, proper nutrition is more likely to be achieved and food will remain exciting, thus minimizing the risk of falling off track due to repetition.

In addition to choosing the correct foods and consuming them regularly, environmental changes are also a critical factor in sustained weight loss and maintenance.  In order to consistently make wise food choices, we must foresee and prevent pitfalls by taking the time to plan, purchase and prepare healthy ingredients in order to create lasting change.  This includes surrounding ourselves with appropriate foods, discarding unhealthy choices and taking the time to wash, cut, cook and freeze in order to always have convenient healthy choices available.  This enables us to avoid detrimental food choices that are often consumed as a result of a busy schedule and lack of preparation.  

Although it would be ideal to consume only organic, nutrient-packed, natural foods all of the time, that would be highly unlikely in today’s society.  In order to make a healthy lifestyle a permanent and achievable change, balance is key.  In response to this, many have adopted the 80/20 rule as their guideline.  This is essentially the idea that we should be health-conscious and careful in what we consume 80% of the time, while allowing ourselves to indulge 20% of the time.  Generally, this means controlling our intake while we are in our own homes and allowing ourselves to take part in the opportunities for treats that will naturally come up outside of our kitchens.  This keeps us sane in a world full of temptation and allows us to make healthy eating a more realistic lifestyle change as opposed to a temporary, strict and usually unachievable “diet”. 

The final component in any journey towards health has to do with altering perceptions.   First and foremost, it is crucial to have a positive self-image.  It is difficult to have the desire to improve and take care of something without having a caring and forgiving attitude towards it.  Therefore, acceptance and self-love is an important first step in wanting to make any positive change. 

In accordance with this improved perception is having the appropriate goals in mind.  Choosing to work towards the numerous benefits and internal satisfaction of being healthy as opposed to meeting a goal weight or attaining a certain physical image is of utmost importance.  This is the only way to make this change a permanent lifestyle.  Focusing on getting adequate amounts of nutritious foods and feeling great as opposed to putting emphasis on what foods to avoid or striving for a particular number will naturally lead to a more positive outlook, improved energy and health and usually increased weight loss as a by-product. Every day should be seen as a fresh opportunity to take steps in the right direction as opposed to a reflection on past mistakes.

A total lifestyle transformation is necessary in order to create lasting and effective change.  This may include trying new foods, doing a total kitchen makeover, applying time management strategies to a typical routine, cutting out certain favorites and re-training the mind to feel empowered and optimistic in this new life-long journey. 

In closing, it is important to remember that bad habits are not formed overnight and will not be corrected in a short period.  Consistency is key!  A healthy lifestyle starts as a series of baby steps that entail slowly eliminating less than ideal foods, thoughts and habits and replacing them with superior ones until it eventually becomes natural. 

Many have already heard about the multiple benefits and improved quality of life that come along with a healthy lifestyle.  However, although general guidelines always seem to be discussed, many will need specific instructions and initial steps to get started.  A healthy lifestyle has to do with getting back to the very basics and doing things the hard way.  Due to the highly accessible world we now live in, it is natural for people to require assistance, and there is no shame in seeking training in this area.  I encourage those of you who are up for the challenge of regaining control of your lives and wanting to experience the incredibly rewarding sense of freedom that comes along with a healthy lifestyle to seek advice from a health coach.  Involving someone who is able to create a plan of action and offer motivation can make this is an achievable and enjoyable journey.  Best of luck!