The first couple of weeks of wanting to make a change were in a very busy season of life. The first two weeks of January were filled with healthy food and exercise, but as soon as classes started, the business really kicked in. There were weekly ministry activities, ultimate frisbee practice, classes, research projects, trying to hang out with friends before everyone moved across the country after graduation, etc. The busier my schedule was, the less important healthy eating and exercise became. It was only a few weeks and I fell of the bandwagon and was back to my old habits and feeling frustrated. I would tell myself “I’ll eat better tomorrow” or “I’ll work out tomorrow night” and then had such difficulty following through. I pushed it off and pushed it off. I had some short streaks of eating well, but my lack of self-control would lead me to easily giving up. I made excuses for my unhealthy lifestyle like “I’ve always been overweight” or “I’ve never consistently worked out” because there were overweight people that loved themselves well too.
There is plenty that you can do to get even more out of your walks. Stephanie Cyr began her 102-pound weight loss journey by walking for an hour each night—but there was a catch. "I mapped out a 3-mile course that took me through the hills in my neighborhood," she says. Live in a flat area? Alternate 1 minute of super-fast walking with 1 minute of slower walking for a calorie-torching interval routine.
In a way, moderate-intensity physical activity is that "magic pill" a lot of people are looking for, because the health benefits go beyond keeping your waistline trim: Not only can it reduce your risk of cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart attacks, but studies have shown that physical activity can significantly improve the moods of patients with major depressive disorders.
Looking at the TEF of protein, one would assume eating a high protein diet could theoretically boost your metabolism. But keep in mind that TEF is only a small portion (10%) of your TDEE and the effects overall are likely minimal. And these TEF amounts are based on isolated macros - combined meals/foods only require roughly 10% of calories for digestion on average.
Include some fat in your diet to get the nutritional benefits, but be mindful of how much fat you are adding to your meals. If cooking or dressing your own meals, keep oil and butter portions to 1 Tbsp or less per person, and don’t overdo it on high fat toppings and ingredients like cream, cheese, nuts, nut butters and seeds. If eating out, opt for grilled, baked or steamed options over fried, breaded, and heavy sauces.
And finally some diets, like gluten-free and FODMAP, are not actually meant for weight loss. These are meal plans designed to support special dietary needs and medical conditions that require a certain way of eating. Even if following these diets causes weight loss, it's likely due to you paying more attention to what you’re eating rather than the prescribed foods.
The effects of a high protein diet are dependent on overall calorie intake and results may be stronger with short-term studies compared to those looking at long-term effects. In one meta-analysis of trials comparing the long-term effects of low-fat diets with either high or low protein content, there were no significant differences in weight loss (45), whereas another meta-analysis of trials evaluating short-term effects suggested modest reductions in weight and body fat, compared to a standard protein diet (46).
Also, my perspective of what a meal was evolved. I grew up thinking every meal needed to be a plate with a meat, veggies or fruit, carbs, grains, and dessert; and that just isn't accurate at all. I learned that it is totally acceptable to make meals like a bowl with veggies and protein. Or breakfast could include a big bowl of oatmeal with almond butter, greek yogurt, granola, and fruit. I incorporated a ton of fresh produce and didn't let myself buy junk food from the store. It's not always about eating less of everything either, it's less of some foods but more of others.
While toning your muscles is best achieved through exercise, ditching the fat that’s obscuring them starts in the kitchen. Luckily, one easy way to get the ball rolling on fat loss outside the gym is a habit you probably already have: drinking coffee. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that obese study subjects whose diet was supplemented with caffeinated coffee significantly increased their metabolic rate, and subjects of an average weight shed more pounds, too.