That is the million dollar question. And according to the media and the internet, another “right” answer arises every other day – a new magic pill, a revolutionary diet, a state-of-the-art fitness device, all of which promise to be the best way to lose weight. But as you probably already know, nothing of value is easy to obtain. And being happy with yourself and comfortable in your own body is no doubt, extremely valuable. So, then, we ask ourselves: what is the best way to achieve that?
With the risk of bursting your bubble early on, there is no “best way” to lose weight. In fact, there is no “best way” to do anything, just like there isn’t a “best” movie, or a “best” ice cream flavour. However, everyone has a favourite movie, and everyone likes at least one ice cream flavour (unless they’re from another planet or something). So, the good news is, there may be no universal best way to lose weight, but there definitely is a best way for you.
How do you find it? Well, how did you find your favourite ice cream? Or your favourite movie? Or the perfect hair colour, tennis shoes or evening gown? You experimented, you shopped around, you tested and you tried, until you found the one that worked for you. The same goes for weight loss. The best way to lose weight is the way that works for you, the way that helps you achieve your goals, while keeping you happy and healthy.
What is the best diet for me?
If you have more money than time, the person best qualified to determine the best diet for you is a certified nutrition expert. He can set up a regimen specifically tailored to your needs, goals and state of health. If you have more time than money, you can very well do this yourself, following a few guidelines.
The best diet for you is, first of all, a balanced diet, i.e. a diet that gives you all the macro and micronutrients your body needs to function at full power: protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. If your body is well nourished, you will have the energy and motivation necessary to exercise more often and maintain an all-around healthy lifestyle.
But most importantly, the best diet for you is a diet that you enjoy, that makes you feel satisfied after each meal, i.e. a diet that you can keep up for a long time. Starving yourself, being overly restrictive or eating foods you don’t enjoy because they’re “good for you” isn’t going to get you very far. Be fair and kind to yourself and your body and you will be much likely to reach your goals. If you crave a piece of chocolate, have it, and don’t feel guilty about it – but remember, everything you do and everything you eat should be in moderation.
Another thing you can do is invest in a variety of herbs and spices. They will give even the dullest dish of steamed veggies a flavour kick, which will make your meals more satisfying and you will be less likely to compensate with an unhealthy snack later on.
Keeping a food journal might help you be more aware of your eating habits, and it’s a known fact that putting pen to paper puts things into perspective. Also, the way you stock your fridge is crucial in a weight loss diet – it may be hard to resist the smell of fresh baked doughnuts on your way to work, but you control the temptations in your own home. If you simply don’t buy potato chips, they won’t be there when the urge for a midnight snack comes around.
What is the best exercise regimen for me?
Starting an exercise programme can be even more difficult than changing your diet, especially if you’re not an active person. If you’re not used to regular physical activity, even the easiest exercises can be exhausting, which can easily discourage any beginner. But keep in mind that as human beings, our bodies have an extraordinary capability to adapt, so even if the situation seems dire now, your body will find a way, and you will, too.
Just like with your diet, your exercise regimen should be a balanced one. If your aim is to lose weight, your focus should be on doing regular cardio workouts, as well as some strength training. Cardio exercises, such as running, dancing, cycling, even plain walking, get your heart pumping and burn calories, which is the most effective way of getting rid of extra fat. Strength training, like weight lifting and exercises that target and tone specific muscle groups are important as well, because replacing lost fat with muscle burns twice as many calories and will help you reach your goals much faster. Plus, once you get used to being more active, you will actually have more energy and you will feel motivated to keep going.
The best exercises for you are the ones you are willing to and enjoy doing regularly. Start small and work your way up – don’t overexert yourself from the start, because you will be too sore the next day to pick it up again, and you may lose momentum. Don’t just assume you have to go jogging every morning or join a gym, because everyone else is doing it – if you don’t like it, if it doesn’t motivate you, then it’s not right for you. Maybe you like rollerblading, or walking your dog, or dancing – find an activity you enjoy doing and do it, whenever, wherever.
After each week, give yourself an extra challenge – gradually make your workouts longer and harder, always acknowledging the progress you’ve made. And don’t forget about rest days – your muscles need to recover after a workout, so give yourself a break every other day.
So, what is the best way to lose weight? With the right diet and the right exercise plan, time and patience are all you need to reach your goals. In the meantime, accept and love yourself for who you are – not for a number on the scale.