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If You Want To Lose Weight, Do It In The Right Way

If You Want To Lose Weight, Do It In The Right Way

With a growing number of people in the world struggling with to lose weight, it’s no wonder there are so many fad diets being promoted through mainstream media.

According to the WHO, around 52% of the world’s population is either overweight or obese.[1] Many of these people have tried to lose weight at least at some point in their lives, and some have even experimented with extreme dieting by following fad diets.

But as research shows, an extreme weight loss diet is not only ineffective as a long-term solution, but it can be extremely damaging to your health.

Extreme dieting leads to muscle wasting

Extreme weight loss diets usually involve severe calorie restriction with the goal of shedding a great amount of weight in the shortest amount of time possible. While these diets will inevitably lead to great weight loss within the first few weeks, you need to keep in mind that you run the risk of losing muscle tissue before you get the chance to shed fat.

According to medical experts, extreme dieting will first lead to water weight loss, then to muscle atrophy, and at the very last stage, to fat loss. Researcher G.L. Thorpe has explained this a very long time ago stating that our body does not selectively burn fat when we eat less.[2] It rather, wastes all body tissue, including the muscles and bones.

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Muscle wasting slows down your metabolism

The reason why your body targets muscle tissue first when you are starving yourself is because it aims to preserve energy when food is sparse. To explain this further – your body needs more energy in order to maintain muscle tissue than it does in order to maintain fat.

When there’s a shortage of energy from food as in cases of extreme dieting, your body will attempt to remove one of the body’s greatest energy consumers – the muscles.

This will happen even if you do weight-loss exercises that you may think help build more muscle. But the bad news does not end there.[3]

Keep in mind that a loss of muscle mass leads to a lower basal metabolic rate, and a lower metabolic rate leads to, you’ve guessed it – more weight gain. These facts explain why so many people experience the jo-jo effect following an extreme diet.

Fad diets bring persisting health-related issues

A study published in The Journals of Gerontology found that calorie restriction reduces energy expenditure.[4] What this means is that being on an extremely low-calorie diet will lead to a slower metabolism making future weight loss difficult if not impossible.

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Furthermore, diets that are extremely low in calories are often very restrictive and as such, unable to meet your body’s needs for essential nutrients. In other words, being on say, an 800-calorie diet is likely to lead to nutrient deficiencies which can seriously harm your health.

A study that was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition examined the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in popular diets, and the results were striking.[5]

The study found that a restrictive weight-loss diet called The Best Life Diet met only 55% of daily micronutrient requirements while the very popular South Beach Diet met only 22% of the daily requirements for micronutrients. Other negative consequences of crash diets and other highly restrictive diets include osteoporosis, depression, kidney stones, and in severe cases scurvy when the diet is deficient in vitamin C.

How to lose weight the right way?

First off, you need to keep in mind that successful weight loss always comes on gradually. This means switching to a healthy eating habit that you can follow for years to come as well as exercising on a weekly basis.

You also need to eat fewer calories than you usually do for weight loss to take place. According to a study published not so long ago in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, consuming fewer calories is the most effective weight loss strategy, especially when combined with low-GI and moderate fat intake.[6] Just make sure that you reduce your calorie intake by 300-500 calories as recommended by Harvard Health Publications.[7]

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For instance, if your usual diet consists of 2500 calories, start eating 2200 calories. Your body will take the time to adjust to this modest caloric deficit, but after a while, you can drop a few calories lower.

Just make sure that you don’t eat anywhere less than 1200 if you are a woman or less than 1500 if you are a man to avoid micronutrient deficiencies. Other things to help you lose weight include finding daily weight-loss motivation tips to help keep you going and checking your health with your doctor to see if underlying health conditions are stalling your weight loss.

Diets don’t work, but healthy eating does

Instead of following fad diet trends that you see being promoted by slim celebrities, nutritionists would suggest you follow healthy eating instead.

By switching to healthy eating instead of say, a low-carb diet that does not work, you’ll be able to shed weight slowly and still meet your body’s needs for key nutrients.[8]

When your body is healthy, and your organ’s well-nourished, you are more likely to experience successful long-term weight loss. Another reason why this is so is because healthy eating is much easier to stick to in the long run when compared to impossible and restrictive diets.

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According to an entry published in the Scandinavian Journal of Food & Nutrition, switching to healthy eating involves making big lifestyle changes, focusing on food quality, and balancing your nutrients.[9]

The same entry lists the health benefits of healthy eating which include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and of course, an improved body composition.

Back to Basics. Forget About Immediate Weight Loss.

You may hear stories of people losing a huge amount of weight by following impossible diets. These stories are usually parts of marketing campaigns for weight-loss products and dieting books that are potentially detrimental to your health. Sticking to proven facts is the only way you can lose weight successfully and safely.

Weight loss requires that you cut down on your calories gradually without jeopardizing your health. It also involves regular exercising to increase energy expenditure and to build more muscle tissue.

Reference

[1] World Health Organization: Obesity and overweight
[2] The JAMA Network: Treating Overweight Patients
[3] Consumer Health Digest: 11 Highly Effective Weight Loss Exercises
[4] The Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences: Long-term calorie restriction reduces energy expenditure in aging monkeys
[5] Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans
[6] Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: Weight loss maintenance: A review on dietary related strategies
[7] Harvard Health Publications: Calorie counting made easy
[8] Consumer Health Digest: 8 Big Reasons Why Your Low Carb Diet Doesn’t Work
[9] Scandinavian Journal of Food & Nutrition: Towards a healthy diet: from nutrition recommendations to dietary advice

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Ella James

Health and Fitness Writer

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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