Weight loss is never easy.
Sure, it can be boiled down to uncomplicated advice: Eat less, move more.
Simple on the face of it, yes. The execution is where things can — and often do — get tricky.
That may well be why a recent study found eating prepackaged meals helped folks lose more weight than receiving diet tips alone.
On average, the group of 60 following a 1,000-calorie-a-day plan shed nearly twice as much weight as a 60-person group merely given advice on how to eat 1,000 calories a day. The group eating calorie-controlled portions lost 16.4 pounds in six months; the advice-followers dropped just 8.14.
Surprising? Not really — at least not for people like me, fighting it out in the weight-loss trenches day in and out.
For me, prepackaged plans take the guesswork out of eating. It saves valuable time and keeps my stress level from skyrocketing when I don't have to consciously wrestle my hedonistic, food-loving self into making the healthier choice. Maybe I'm just weak, but when faced with a brownie and an apple, I'll reach for the chocolate eight times out of ten.
But give me a day's worth of delicious, filling food, lined up and ready to go in my stomach at appropriate intervals, and the hard decisions are already made. Following the plan becomes easy; chocolate is no longer an option.
That said, weight-loss tips can be (and often are) a valuable part of any dieter's toolbox. I rely on any number of them on a day-to-day basis.
• Drink half your body weight in ounces of water. The number varies depending on the source, but everyone agrees that water is essential to health. According to a WebMD article, it helps control calories, energizes muscles, keeps skin from looking wrinkly, and improves kidney function, among other things.
• Fill up on fruits and veggies. Follow a Volumetrics-like diet, where you fill your plate with low-calorie, high-volume foods to satisfy your hunger without over-consuming calories.
• No nighttime snacks. The GoFitGals swear by a strict no late-night snack policy, saying your metabolism needs at least 12 hours of rest to be at its best. Without that rest, it gets sluggish — and not just for the day. Eating late can have a long-standing impact on your health. I wrote about it — and my struggles to follow the rule — here.
The key, of course, is to get your tips from reliable sources. Common-sense advice, while not as fun or glamorous, will serve you better than outrageous claims. (Lose weight eating nothing but cabbage soup? Bacon and eggs? Apples, chicken and cheddar?)
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Author: Arlene Hittle
Arlene Hittle started Adventures in Weight Loss, Cooking and Life in 2009 as a way to share her adventures in … well, weight loss, cooking and life. She’s a 40-something journalist and pre-published novelist living in northern Arizona. Over the years, her body’s has had more ups and downs than a classic wooden rollercoaster. She’s currently down almost 100 pounds from an all-time high of 306 — and she’s aiming to hit 160 before her 42nd birthday next October.
Follow Arlene on Twitter: @ArleneHittle