Weight loss could seem daunting especially if you have tried several times before only to gain more weight back in the months that followed. Sustainable weight loss is best achieved with a change in lifestyle embracing nutrient rich, whole foods while minimizing processed alternatives. A key component of this is fruits and vegetables of all colors of the rainbow as they are powerful source of vital phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals and low in calories. Hence larger quantities will not break your diet and keep you full longer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends half your plate in fruits and vegetables at each meal with the other half filled with whole grains and proteins. Another method is thinking in twos; two servings of fruits and vegetables at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It is critical that anyone considering weight loss understand this important point: You can never out exercise a poor diet. Here is a simple example:
Medium McDonald’s Fries are 333 Calories = 4 Miles Walking (80 minutes)
Add a Big Mac of 563 calories and you have nearly tripled the amount of exercise needed to burn this off. Who has time for all this walking or other exercise?
My dad grew up on a farm in a small town of Amorosi, Italy northwest of Naples. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables were bountiful with plenty of olive oil, a wonderful healthy fat, for sautéing and roasting. The family had excellent nutrition. This has since been confirmed in a number research studies that the Mediterranean diet is one the healthiest to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration and other chronic disease.
My Dad in the Upper Left
When my dad was in his early twenties, he immigrated to the U.S. For a while, he maintained the nutrition he grew up with. However, with the plethora of processed foods readily at his disposal and work and family obligations constantly pulling at him, his nutrition and exercise began to decline. This in combination with age began to take its toll as he developed hypertension and kidney disease. Medication worked for a time, but eventually he found himself in the ICU given less than four years to live. With this being not enough to motivate him, his breakfasts and lunches still consisted of only highly processed protein bars. Without his nutrition in check, he continued to struggle with his weight and keeping his blood pressure under control.
After considering it for some time, he decided to pursue health coaching. At first, he thought his weight was fine but when he saw he was borderline obese, he conceded he should lose some weight. He once again embraced the Mediterranean diet of his youth high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and other legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices at every meal. Although he could not get consistent with walking for exercise, he found a physical activity he really enjoyed; Next2Yes exercise videos on YouTube he does with my mom. With his nutrition greatly improved and consistent exercise, he lost over 40 lbs. and greatly improved his hypertension reducing his medication from 11 to 4.5 pills / day. Furthermore, the severe fluid retention in his legs, forming bags of skin over his ankles, disappeared. He never stepped foot in a gym and neither have many other people who have achieved significant weight loss including myself (losing 38 lbs.). He says he feels great and would not have believed his personal transformation was possible without living through it and seeing it with his own eyes.
Weight loss is possible and sustainable, but it requires a change in lifestyle. It is best to start small and build momentum. Experiment with adding one additional fruit and vegetable to your diet while eliminating a processed food. Once you have this mastered, take another small step. As you begin to string together several small behavioral changes, you will be amazed at the progress you make over time. Remember this is a journey not a sprint.