How to Lose Weight Safely and Effectively

 
Exercise is a safe and effective way to lose weight.

For a country that is so obsessed with weight loss and being fit, people are extremely ignorant about losing weight effectively and safely. Misconceptions about your body and metabolism lead to misconceptions in weight loss methods.
Summer is rolling around and you want to lose a few pounds to look better in that tiny bikini of yours, so you diet for a month and get down to a size you're proud of. After a week, you start eating like you normally do and by the end of the summer, if not earlier, you're ballooning back to your old size if not getting better. To understand why this happens, you have to understand your body.
Everyone has a weight range at which their body maintains itself when you're not dieting or eating a lot like during the holidays. Think of it as a resting heart rate. It's your body's normal weight. After you have a successful diet, your body tends to go back to that normal range. This might not be a range you're comfortable with. But dieting is not the answer. Dieting is just a short term solution.
If you think about the mechanisms your body undergoes during and after a diet, it is easy to understand why dieting, even effective, safe dieting, never keeps the weight off in the long run. Most diets restrict your intake of food because it is common to think that, if you eat less, you will lose weight. Of course, the body is much more complex than that. However, your body isn't concerned with how good you look when you're going to the beach. Your body instinctively self-preserves. So when you normally live off of 2,000 calories a day and then you cut 500 calories, your body thinks its starving. In order to preserve itself and you, your metabolism slows down drastically. Less calories are burned so that the nutrients you do have last longer. This mechanism is much simpler to understand if you think of the situation another way. Imagine you are stranded on a deserted island and all you can find to eat is berries. Your body will instinctively conserve water and nutrients by burning less calories. That sounds great if you're waiting for rescue, but if you want to lose weight it's quite a monkey wrench.
This is why you often lose weight while you diet or gain it back. Worse yet, is when the diet doesn't work at all. This usually happens when you restrict what you eat so much that you're constantly starving. So on top of slowing down your metabolism, if you do cave in to your cravings, it's like eating double the calories because your body is no longer burning them as quickly.
Making sense so far? Now that you have a better understanding of your body's inner workings, lets discuss the ways to get around that and effectively lose weight.
The safest weight loss is gradual. Additionally, to be most effective, weight loss should also be permanent. This means a general lifestyle change. This sounds scary but it isn't. If you take baby steps and teach yourself and your body, you can permanently lower your normal weight range. Everyone who is unhappy with their weight can usually think of one or more things they could change about their diet. Myself, for example, I love chocolate. I can't get enough of it. When I started gaining weight, I cut down on it. The trick is not to do away with it altogether, because that just makes you want it more. But you can control how much you buy. If there is less available in your home, you will already be eating less. And if you are in a situation where there is chocolate, don't be afraid to have some. Forcing yourself to abstain from your favorite foods, even when its available is what people usually hate most about dieting. If you decrease your intake of several foods this way, your body is sure to respond favorably.
So what do you replace those calories with so your body doesn't feel like its starving? Healthy calories! Vegetables are something that are not only great for you, but can help you lose weight. So instead of counting how many calories you take in and restricting that, keep track of what kind of calories you are eating. Maintain your normal eating habits, but replace bad foods with healthier foods. Have fun with it because it is the only way to maintain the change. If you restrict, you will be miserable and give up after a few months or weeks. Get used to eating healthier while still eating what you like, just in less quantities.
If you need an extra push, exercise more. This is also something that people give up on after a few weeks. So instead of starting the gym, change up little things in your daily routine. Walk to work, instead of driving. If that's not feasible, walk your dog after work. Your dog will thank you and so will your body! Take up your favorite sport from childhood. It's never too late to go on bike rides or to play basketball. Few people enjoy the treadmill and exercise bike. To keep yourself active, you have to do things you enjoy.
One final note on diet and exercise. When you exercise, your body needs more calories. If you're exercising heavily, you'll be hungrier and you should increase what you eat accordingly. If you eat too little and on top of that, burn more calories, your body will slow its metabolism even more. Then it's the equivalent of starving on a deserted island and constantly running away from wild boar.

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