I think you brought up the key word here, which is “sustainable.” I have seen and heard countless stories of people who have dieted or wanted to try starting one, and they jump 100% in on Day 1, and most do not make it to their desired goal.
The reality is there are no “life-hacks” to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle long-term. The simple transition to real, whole foods from synthetically derived sweeteners, snacks, and fillers will do wonders for many suffering from chronic diseases. It will improve gut health by allowing a more suitable mircobiome to flourish in our intestinal tracts. Along with the weight loss, this change will lead to increased energy levels, improved mental clarity, reduced joint pain, and less systemic inflammation. It will lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, cancer, type II diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and other inflammatory diseases.
Along with a consistent physical activity weekly, a whole-foods, plant-based diet will catalyze a body transformation, reducing body fat and improving your physique, all the while making you feel better!
Your body has intuitive knowledge about what makes it run the best. We just have to clean out all those processed foods that cause the wrong (chemically-driven and usually artificial) cravings first. Use this list below as a baseline to get you started going forward.
These basics are will help create the proper environment to lose weight in a sustainable way long-term. It is important to note, you might not lose a lot of weight quickly, as chances are there may be more health factors that need to be addressed as well.
As you gradually set yourself up and create a healthier environment, you will see the results the longer you stick with it.
- Eat real foods, with at least 50% of each plate being vegetables.
- Eat a diet primarily of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Eat and assortment of different-colored vegetables and fruits (eat the rainbow).
- Drink clean water.
- Eat fermented foods to balance your gut flora, like kimchi and sauerkraut.
- Cut out inflammatory foods, like simple carbohydrates, sugars, processed foods, and candies.
- 80% of the time eat right, allowing yourself 20% “wiggle room.”
- Drink lemon water in the morning, it helps boost metabolism and liver function.
- Look for foods that are high in fiber (whole foods) and low in sugar.
- Eliminate all packaged foods, if possible.
- Be sure to read ALL ingredient labels.
- Never eat out of a box or bag.
- Eat greens at least twice per day.
- Choose organic foods as often as possible.
- Listen to your body!
Along with the basics I think it is paramount to take the long-term view, and understand that changes do not take place overnight. Enjoy the journey. Know that the small steps you take today, tomorrow, next week, next month add up over time!
Here are some tips to help keep you on track going forward.
Understand why you want to change: If we look at cancer prevention, you want to prevent cancer and the side effects that come along with treatment. Wanting to lose weight, battle certain health issues, or simply feeling better can all provide us with that inside spark. These motivating factors will help you implement and sustain the positive changes you are making.
Inspire gratitude: Be grateful for others in your life that make you happy. You can start by employing one simple action step: when you wake up in the morning, before you even get out of bed, think of one thing, person, or event you are grateful for that day or from the day before. Appreciate that for a moment before starting your morning routine.
Speak from your heart: Think about someone dear to you and why he or she makes you happy. Take some time to tell this person how you appreciate him or her. This does not have to be some drawn-out extravagant event. It could just be you speaking honestly to another, and communicating your love and gratitude for him or her. Be authentic, and be yourself.
Have a plan: If you want to make a change, that’s great but it is not enough and it is why you’re here, and I applaud you for that. You must have a practical, easy-to-follow plan to guide you on your journey.
Embrace your favorite pastimes: Take some time to reflect back on your favorite things to do. Can you perform one of these activities today or this week? When you do perform them, take the time to appreciate these activities, and try to perform at least one a day.
Do not get held up with setbacks: Real life happens, and it is important to take this into account. Many times, it may feel easier to be more negative than positive. For example, if you eat healthy four days a week and not so much the other three, be sure to focus on that positive change and use it as a growing opportunity. Dwelling on negative circumstances only reinforces negative behavior. Concentrate on even the smallest of victories, and come up with a list (physical or mental) of things you did well that day, that week, and that month. Reflect back on what allowed you to enjoy those victories in the first place.
Seek out social support: Connection can be an extremely powerful thing. If you do not have a strong support system with your family and friends, try to look for groups with a mutual interest. Something as simple as taking a class, joining a book club, or volunteering can go a long way in helping you connect with others.
Avoid all or nothing thinking: We live in the age of immediacy. Today, the mindset seems to be go something like this: “I want something. I want all of it now. How do I get it as soon as possible?” With the amount of information available at our fingertips, it is hard to appreciate the value of patience. There is also an obsession with perfection overnight. This can be incredibly harmful when it comes to making changes in how you eat, implementing a new workout routine, and fostering or nurturing relationships. The road to better health is far from immediate. Instead, it is a road that is littered with peaks and valleys. If you are committing to changing your behavior you must accept the fact it will not happen overnight, and enjoy the journey.
Hope this helps!