by Lorenzo Baldini
When you think about what it means to take care of yourself, your mind probably jumps to food. No journey to health and well-being would be complete without a proper, nutritious diet, after all; we’re certainly all familiar with the phrase “you are what you eat.” In fact, food is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to improve our health and to maintain our peak condition for as long as possible.
A diet that makes you lose weight at the cost of possible health risks makes no sense. This is the first fundamental concept you must accept: weight loss matters only if it is for your own well-being, in the pursuit of your best self. Of course, everyone wants to be able to feel good about themselves, but it is absolutely critical for the success of your efforts that purely aesthetic concerns take the backseat; it doesn’t matter if you look good if you don’t feel good.
We can’t forget physical activity, which is of course another of the central pillars of good health. But don’t be fooled: if we’re only talking about weight loss, you can easily lose weight even at your desk!
Many of my patients hide behind the phrase: “I don’t lose weight because I can’t exercise” for various reasons (work, family, health …). But strictly speaking from the point of view of weight loss, a proper diet is much more important than a gym membership (especially if it you don’t use it regularly). Physical activity is an important tool that serves to tone, define, and shape your body,. but losing weight from exercise alone is impossible unless you can spend the whole day at the gym.
I’ll tell you a secret
You’d be hard-pressed to find a doctor more convinced than I that exercise is essential to get healthy. But I must repeat: physical activity is a cornerstone of overall health, not for weight loss. Not least of all because – come closer, I have a secret to tell you … but don’t spread it around.
Exercise makes you hungry!
There’s no way around this inescapable fact. You may reply that the more calories you burn, the more you can afford to eat. This is true, but it is hard for your body to try to lose fat and get fit at the same time.Better to focus on weight loss first; when you have already lost some weight, the exercise will be worth more and show greater results. For now, concentrate on nutrition, and be mindful of what you put in your mouth!
If you are already used to exercising, certainly don’t stop, but if working on the treadmill or endless steps on the StairMaster are not your cup of tea, don’t worry.
Make a commitment to do something, anything active will do, but please: especially if you want to lose ten pounds or more, I suggest you start with something mild for at least three weeks. Light activity done every day (or close to it) will help more than something strenuous that will be hard to keep up. You could even start with half an hour of brisk walking. The important thing is to do something that you enjoy, so it doesn’t feel like an obligation or sacrifice.
By now, I’m sure I’ve given you enough things to think about, so let’s let them simmer with three very simple homework assignments for this month on our journey to the “perfect diet:”
1. Begin to focus, generally for now, on improving your eating habits to get healthier.
Everyone knows when they are cheating at the table and you will notice even when no one else does. Be more mindful! Keep your brain in control of your mouth: the mouth only eats what the brain tells it to, after all. Once you get in the habit of thinking about each meal, you will find yourself choosing healthier options in no time.
2. If you don’t already, try to incorporate some light physical activity into your routine.
As mentioned earlier, even 30 minutes of vigorous walking will do at this stage. Focus on finding something you enjoy, as that will make it easy to keep doing. If you already play sports, don’t push so hard you get tired of them; instead, just play for fun, and you will reap the benefits without having to think about them.
3. Forget about concoctions and so-called “miracle drugs.”
Don’t tease yourself looking for an easy way out: the reality is that when it comes to weight loss, there are no shortcuts. Don’t be tempted by the myriad products promising quick and easy weight loss you will find on the market.
These miracle bars, slimming teas, “fat-burning bands” and the like all have one thing in common: they are better for those who sell them than for you! Most often they do nothing good for you at all, and sometimes they can even be harmful.
There is no magic spell for slimming down: just eating properly will lead to losing weight and improved health. I am sure that by applying these three simple rules, I will find you at the next appointment already looking and feeling better – and certainly lighter!