Managing your weight lowers the risk of chronic conditions and improves your overall quality of life. However, losing weight isn’t exactly an easy task. Many people who are overweight or obese face barriers in the weight loss journey, which prevent them from seeing their expected outcomes. These barriers can range from internal factors like the lack of motivation and self-regulation skills to social factors such as reduced support from family and friends.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to work towards overcoming these barriers as they arise — and even preventing them altogether. The weight loss approaches we’ll discuss below are backed by science and thus set you up for success in losing weight and keeping it off in the long run.
1. Cutting back on processed foods
An effective weight loss diet relies on reducing your overall calorie intake. But before you take your calculator out and crunch the numbers, one of the simplest ways to enhance the quality of your diet and lose weight is to cut back on your consumption of processed foods.
As discussed in a previous post on the reasons why you’re gaining weight, these foods — which include meals and takeouts from fast food restaurants — tend to be high in sodium. Sodium makes your body retain a lot of water and accumulate body fat, sabotaging your overall weight loss efforts. Additionally, processed foods are considered empty calories that provide energy while having little to no nutritional value.
2. Ensuring the proper intensity and duration of workouts
Another lifestyle approach that complements your nutritionally-balanced, reduced-calorie diet is exercise. Burning enough calories for weight loss boils down to ensuring the proper intensity and duration of physical activity. Adults are recommended to do about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercises like brisk walking, 75 minutes of vigorous activity like jogging, or a combination of the two each week to lose weight effectively.
Even when you’ve already reached your weight goal, it’s crucial to continue this rate of physical activity to maintain a healthy weight over time. It’s also a good idea to cross-train or switch up your routine by incorporating resistance training and yoga for increased strength and flexibility.
3. Trying weight loss medications
As excess weight or obesity can stem from multiple factors, weight loss approaches must expand beyond lifestyle interventions to include pharmacotherapy. But you might ask yourself: Do weight loss pills work, and are they safe? Fortunately, the current options on the market, like orlistat and semaglutide, are regulated by the FDA and have undergone research for safety and efficacy.
You can qualify for these prescription medications if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30+ or a BMI of 27+ with an underlying condition that makes it hard to lose weight, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes. When used in tandem with a lifestyle modification and weight management program, these pills and injectables can reduce your weight by 5 to 15% and lower your risk of diseases.
4. Going to therapy or counseling
Your weight loss journey will entail making considerable changes in your diet, exercise, and lifestyle. In this light, therapy and/or counseling can equip you with the skills you need to cope with and sustain these habits for the long haul.
For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective for weight loss as it helps improve your restraint, motivation, self-efficacy, and confidence. Research has also shown that CBT can reduce the likelihood of regaining weight by guiding you toward setting specific goals, identifying barriers, and reframing your way of thinking to get past the said barriers.
Ultimately, what these approaches tell us is that there are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss. It takes commitment to make small yet impactful changes in how you eat, move, and behave in daily life. For more articles about health and fitness, you can check out the rest of the posts in the Lifestyle category of Editorials 24.