Considering that the UAE has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world, many people here attempt to get back on track with fad diets, only to give up soon after. Of those who go on a diet, two out of every five people quit within a week and this rises to four out of five by the time one month is over.
Reducing our weight if we are on the heavy side offers a lot of health benefits including reducing the risk of some types of cancer, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. An added bonus is that you look and feel a lot better when you lose weight. However, we need to remember that we did not gain all this weight overnight and it might take quite a bit of time to lose this weight.
There is no shortage of fad diets whether it is the GM diet, the cabbage soup diet or the grapefruit diet. Instead of switching from one fad diet to the other, what we need is a change of mindset and lifestyle modifications. Please keep in mind that about 90 percent of people who lose weight end up gaining almost all of it back within 3 to 5 years. If you want to be in the minority, here are a few things you can do to break the cycle of yoyo dieting:
• Make Gradual Changes: Make gradual changes to your diet so that they do not seem to be too restrictive. Many people give up on diets within a week or two because they have to make major changes to the way they eat. Making small changes, like having only one can of soft drinks instead of two or one teaspoons of sugar in your tea instead of two are more acceptable. These small changes add up over time to help you reduce weight on a consistent basis. It is stimated that just cutting out soft drinks and switching to plain water instead can help you to lose 20 pounds in 6 months.
• Give Yourself Permission to have a Cheat Meal: We expect a lot more from ourselves than we do from others. Hence when we do diet, we feel we have failed if we indulge in a something we like. We need to accept we are not perfect and move on. If you love chocolate or ice cream, you do not have to eliminate it completely. Having one scoop of ice cream or a square of chocolate is absolutely fine, especially if it helps you focus more on your long-term goal. As long as you don’t go overboard, it will not do much damage. Make sure though that you have only cheat meals and not cheat days. Having a pizza, hamburger, chips and soft drinks all in one day is setting up yourself up for failure. But having a square of chocolate after a healthy dinner is fine.
• Be Realistic when Setting Goals: Expecting 10 kilos to come off in one month is unrealistic. It took you a whole lot longer to gain those 10 kilos. Experts say that a target of 1 kilo a week is achievable if you eat healthy and keep moving. This adds up in one year to 12 kilos and to 24 kilos in two years. Not bad at all.
• Persistence Pays: Instead of having the mindset that you expect to lose a certain amount of weight over a certain period, think of this as a lifestyle that you have to follow for the rest of your life. If you revert to your old eating habits once the diet is over, you will end up as just another statistic and join those who have failed to keep the weight off.
• Stop Procrastination: Stop telling yourself that that you will start eating healthy and exercising from New Year’s Day, next Sunday or whatever. If you are planning to change your lifestyle, start doing it now.
• Learn Portion Control: Even the healthiest food in the world can add to your waistline if you eat too much. Always keep in mind the old adage, “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”.
• Meal Planning: Try to plan meals in advance so that you do not call for takeways just because there is nothing to eat in the house. Preplan the menu for the week in advance and shop accordingly. Keep snacks like carrot sticks,
hummus and grapes handy to stave off those hunger pangs till you get to cook or buy something healthy. Cheap and healthy snacks include bananas, apples, tuna and baked beans.
• Plan Exercise Routine: Try to exercise at fixed times and make it a daily routine. Exercise does play a key role in weight loss. If you are unable to allocate even 30 minutes at a time to exercise, snatch short breaks during the
day when you move a bit. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, dance with your kids and park far away from the entrance instead of taking the closest spot. It will all add up.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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