I have lived an unhealthy life for most of my years, though I did not know it was an unhealthy life for most of those years. I simply lived as those around me did. For this reason, as far back as I can remember, I have had to jump from one crash diet to another cleanse to another nutritionist-certified-lifestyle.  The problem; half of them were not effective or sustainable. It has been a grossly frustrating “yoyo” type of life.

I have concluded that weight-loss and a healthy life are two very different things.

Speaking from the perspective of someone who had unhealthy eating habits for most of her life, the focus needs to shift from quick-fix methods to sustainable, realistic, long-term efforts. Through my cyclic weight-loss filled life, I have learnt some things that I believe will be of help to you.

  1. Know your body

I had a lot of unanswered questions like ‘why me?’ and ‘what did I ever do to deserve this’ until I got to know my body. I took one of those random body type quizzes and got curious about the subject. When I spoke to my doctor about it, she confirmed that there are different ways in which bodies work. It could be from…

  • Genes: Genes set the basic parameters on a body’s metabolic efficiency. Hence, your genes play a part in your body’s efficiency or inefficiency to burn calories. If one of your parents is obese, you are more likely to be obese than someone who has parents of a healthy weight.
  • Metabolic Rate: Your metabolic rates are largely determined by how active you are. The slower your metabolic rate, the fewer calories you can burn.
  • Eating Patterns: Families favoring high-fat, high calorie foods are at a greater risk of gaining weight as opposed to families that serve smaller portions of lean meats, steamed vegetables and brown rice. The speed at which people learn to eat and the consciousness with which they do so are very important. People who eat quickly tend to eat more than people who eat slowly, as it takes a few minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it is full.
  • Exercise: Exercise builds lean muscle mass and burns up fat reserves. Muscles are very metabolically active. Adding muscle mass through strength training raises metabolism and makes it easier to lose weight. Strength training reduces the risk of accidental injury, improves bone density, helps with digestion, and assists in lowering blood pressure.
  • Health is more Important

When the topic of health comes up, there are a lot of things to be taken into consideration. You have cholesterol level, blood sugar level, mental stability, and general wellbeing. Reducing your body fat to a particular level will not guarantee that you are healthy. Yes, it will eradicate a load of health issues if you are not obese, but I have met slim people who have skyrocketing blood sugar levels.

It is necessary to put an effort into taking care of your body on the whole than focusing only on your dietary management.

  • Renew your mind

Many things are not learnt in school or at home. There are lessons you could learn through a movie, personal research or random conversation. Another aspect to health is mental health. Mental health (as described by the World Health Organization) is a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to his or her community. 

  • Stay focused

It is easy to drift away from your personal goals, especially if you follow food-related blogs and some social media accounts. Staying focused will help you walk the straight path of living a healthy life. If you do not live alone, you should know that others have different meal plans and eating schedules than you do. Having this in mind, you should be prepared to face these temptations and still eat right.

There will come a time when you would rather sleep than workout, considering the workload you are facing in the lecture halls or at the office. Do not give in! Remember what I said about metabolism and keeping active? Keep yourself active constantly.

I understand it could get frustrating or even painful to restrain from satisfying certain cravings or push yourself to start and finish a work-out routine – but stay focused and do it anyway!

  • Think healthy over thin

This last one is really on my heart and is for emphasis. It goes specifically to those who are on (or should be on) one weight-loss journey or another. Keep your mind on being healthy; and by healthy, I mean all-round health and wellness as opposed to a quick-fix solution.

Be positive and open to a complete lifestyle change if that is what it takes, but do not settle for the fastest means – it is usually unrealistic and will lead you back to where you began.

By Ewurabena Hagan


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