Sick of counting calories, restricting portions and banning foods? Who wouldn't be? Hundreds of dieting programs are out there, but few of them do much in the way of helping you achieve a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Read on to discover how focusing on a happy, balanced lifestyle is all you need to be healthy and how you'll likely lose a few pounds in the process!
Learn and understand
In today's world we are often told to "eat this food," "take this supplement" and "do this exercise" — "just because." We're told doing so is good for us, so we feel forced to oblige. But it's hard to keep doing something day after day when you don't truly understand why it's so important. By gaining knowledge on subjects such as why sugar can be hard on your body and the benefits of certain nutrients, you are more likely to be inclined to make healthy choices and feel happy about them.
Find the love in what you do
We've all heard the statement that dieting and exercising are the only ways to lose weight. And it's certainly true that eating good food and living an active lifestyle contribute to weight loss. But the concept of "exercise" can be highly unappealing. Spending the day dreading the moment you will have to trudge away on a cardio machine at the gym can be hard on you emotionally. Instead, look for ways to stay active that you genuinely enjoy. Do you have a friend you wish you could catch up with more often? Ask her if she would be interested in taking a walk with you before work a couple of times a week. Is there a certain type of dance you've been dying to try out? Sign up for a class! Seeking opportunities for fitness that you would be happy to continue for the rest of your life makes you more likely to enjoy life and lose weight in the process.
Listen to your body
With so many delicious foods available to us today, it can be hard to listen to our bodies and know when we're hungry and when we're simply craving. A lot of healthy eating and happy living comes down to checking in with your body and mind and making sense of what they have to say. For example, when you've just finished a big dinner and someone asks you if you'd like dessert, your cravings may kick in and tell you to say yes. But if you take a few minutes to check in with your body, you may have a different answer. Your stomach may feel stretched and too heavy for an extra course, and your tongue may have been over-saturated with rich foods and not interested in anything more. Saying no might go against what you are familiar with, but your body and mind will thank you for it in the long run.
This is also why calorie-counting diets can be hard on you emotionally and physically. You might be starving after a long workout, but your meal plan says you aren't allowed to eat for another few hours. So you turn down the healthy snack, sit in misery for a while and then wind up overeating later on because your body has been deprived of nutrition. This is why listening to your body is important. If you find the answer to be that you are truly hungry and not just craving, give your body the nutrition it needs to carry on. Making the switch to trusting what your body is telling you won't happen overnight, but if you stick with it, in time you will achieve a lifelong healthy and happy lifestyle.
If there's one thing decades worth of diet plans have made clear to us, it's this: Deprivation doesn't work. Sure, you might be able to give up a certain favourite food for a few days through sheer force of will, but when you do so for too long or make too many options off limits, it can quickly take a toll on you. Where's the joy in organizing a big birthday party for yourself if you're going to chew away at spinach leaves while everyone else enjoys your decadent cake? Ultimately our bodies and minds seek balance. Your body won't feel good about eating half a tub of ice cream every night, just as your mind won't be happy saying no to all the foods you love. So treat yourself every now and then, and find the balance you require to live your life in a happy, healthy way.