America has highest rate of obesity in the world, putting all other countries to shame. And this situation is only getting worse, with the numbers of dangerously overweight Americans rising every single year. It’s an issue that seems to be woven into the very fabric of our culture and there are no easy fixes on a nationwide scale, but the problem begins at home and that’s where we we can find the solution.

In the US we have access to a higher quality range of cheap food and affordable exercise equipment; there are gyms and organic grocery stores on every corner; and you don’t need to look far to find diet tips or a nutritionist willing to give you them. The problems stem not from a lack of healthy choices, but from an abundance of unhealthy ones, and as soon as you make the choice to be slim and trim and actually stick to it, you’ll have all the help you need.

How do I Lose Weight?

It’s a question we all think that we know the answer to, but as soon as we start our weight loss journey we do things that suggest we don’t really understand the process at all.

We allow ourselves to do things that will only hinder our progress in the name of greed or convenience. We listen to people who we shouldn’t be listening to simply because we want to believe what they are telling us. Really, the question should be, “How NOT to Lose Weight” and the first step is to avoid the following thought processes:

  • “It’s okay to binge today if I make up for it tomorrow”Not True. Think of it this way: every pound of fat equates to roughly 3,500 calories (this is not an exact calculation as many diet “experts” claim, but it’s close enough to serve as a useful average). To lose a pound of fat, you need to consume 3,500 calories less than your body uses and you do this over the course of many days. If you binge on 1,000 extra calories today, you’ll need to consume 1,000 less in future days just to get back to a level playing field.
  • “I’ll start at the beginning of the week/month/year”Why? Why would you wait? The date on the calendar isn’t going to make a difference and by delaying the process you’re only prolonging the length of time it takes to reach your goals.
  • “I can eat as much [X] as I want, it’s free” — Don’t kid yourself. No food worth eating is calorie free. There are some foods that may burn as much as they consume, but not to the extent that you think.
  • “Today is my cheat day”Only if you want to delay your weight loss. Cheat days are okay when used in moderation, but to get slim and trim quickly, you can’t have them.

Dangerous Diets

You don’t need a fad diet to help you get slim and trim, you just need a basic meal plan, plenty of exercise and a calorie deficit. It really is that easy. Fad diets often harm your body, they make promises they can’t keep and they leave you in a worse position than when you started. The following diets are a great example of this and should be all the motivation you need to kick them to the curb and to focus on the basic principles of weight loss.

  • Atkins Diet: By depriving your body of carbs you are taking away a major energy source, which will lead to feelings of fatigue and could impact your mental health. This diet has also been linked with heart-disease and kidney disease.
  • The Master Cleanse: Apparently popular with celebs, this one involves drinking nothing but a concoction made of lemon, water, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. It’s an incredibly catabolic diet, which means it might help you to lose weight but will take muscle as well as fat and will also leave your body deprived of vital nutrients.
  • 5:2 Diet (AKA Intermittent Fasting): This one may be showing promise in early research and it may lead to a longer life, but it will slow protein synthesis and limit muscle growth and it has also been linked with everything from anxiety and bad breath to insomnia.
  • Paleo: A popular diet for many and one that can be healthy if done right, the issues with the paleo diet stem from its focus on fats and protein. Much like the Atkins diet, this can lead to kidney and heart problems. It is also based on claims that are insane. It’s true that our ancestors likely didn’t suffer as much from heart disease and cancer as we do, but only because disease, hunger, conflict and wild animals killed them at a very young age.
  • Weight-Loss Pills: The majority of weight loss pills are either ineffective, dangerous or very unpleasant. Take Xenical as an example. It works, but it will deprive your body of fat and your days of passing gas without a care will be numbered. Stimulants work to an extent, but they can be very taxing on your heart and you’re often better off with a strong cup of organic coffee like GRIND. As for appetite suppressants, the only ones that work are the ones we know very little about and the ones you shouldn’t be willingly ingesting.

One Diet at a Time

It’s essential that you ignore all other diets out there. We’re often sold on several different diets at once, whether we’re following partial principles laid out by Weight Watchers, adding slimming shakes to our diet, buying the latest slimming tea or abstaining from protein/fat/real food. These diets aren’t all terrible, but they are designed to be followed to the letter, so don’t pick and choose. Don’t buy those teas, don’t base your decision to eat a meal on whether it has a certain amount of Weight Watchers points and for the love of God, don’t drop an entire macronutrient from your diet because someone with letters after their name told you to.

Tips for Being Slim and Trim

Now that you know what not to do, let’s focus back on the basics and end on a positive note:

  • Keep a meal and workout journal.
  • Move slowly. Don’t try to do everything at once and know that even small changes in diet and activity will benefit you.
  • Don’t use lack of time as an excuse not to workout. You can add more activity to your working day and it takes just 10 minutes to do a few push-ups on an evening.
  • Don’t forget to lift weights, they will boost your metabolism and help you to add definition.
  • Eat a diet of 30% to 35% protein. It requires more calories to metabolize than any other macronutrient.
  • Consume plenty of fruits, vegetables and seeds.
  • Don’t abstain from fat, but focus on healthy fats as found in olive oil, seeds and nuts.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid fruit juices and smoothies.
  • Get a workout partner if you struggle with motivation.

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