Stephen French
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Losing Weight - A New Year's Resolution

A discussion-based piece of text exploring ways of promoting weight loss.

I would like to introduce a series of uploads discussing food-based new year resolutions, I start with weight loss - the most common resolution made year upon year. It's no surprise to any of us that this is a industry worth a lot, with a global net worth staggering into the hundreds of billions of pounds. But how can we, the consumers, tackle our weight with ease and knowledge? Read on to check out some ideas & tips and tasty vegan recipes ideal for weight loss.

I, like many of you reading, have tried to ditch the pounds time and time again; and for the last 4 or so years, it has continually been on my list of new year resolutions - but I've never achieved what I set out to do so. The reasons for this is varied and complex, much like many other people who have attempted to lose weight.

One of the reasons for this is aiming far too high.

This is a common theme amongst majority of new year resolutions - we set our immediate goals and aspirations to be something that is highly difficult to achieve, and for this reason, a goal that is likely to fail. With immediate fail on the cards with goals too difficult, we fall at the first hurdle - often in the first week when we jump on the scales. Beyond this, it's in the backs of our minds but doesn't take precedence over our eating habits - behaviours that take weeks to form and become a part of daily living. Instead, make goals attainable - this is a resolution for you and should be developed in a way that suits you, your lifestyle, and dietary requirements. Professionals recommend losing no more that 2lbs a week, that's 907g for any of you using metric measurements. Remember, this is the recommended maximum weight loss per week, so, realistically, goals should ideally be below this for beginners and over time, this weekly goal can be re-assessed. 

Now, it's time to consider restrictive diets.

When we think of the word 'diet' we think of restriction and missing out - and eventually this can lead to our weight loss failing. The more we focus on foods we are restricting ourselves from, the more inclined we are to fail - but this isn't our fault - as humans we are programmed to focus on the restrictions placed upon us and the craving for these foods grows and grows until we give in. Like many other people, once we fail we revolt to the mindset of "well, I've failed and I'll probably fail again ... so what's the point". This is why we shouldn't make our new dietary habits too restrictive. Allow yourself a 'cheat' day or midweek treat, even the occasional naughty takeaway - you'll feel a lot better when considering your new eating habits and one 'cheat' on an infrequent basis (dependant on the naughtiness of the 'cheat') isn't going to make us pile back on the pounds.

How many of us have considered our metabolism? 

The likely answer to this is 'most of us' - the common way of thinking used to be along the lines of blaming our metabolism for the inadequate weight loss of the week. Many of us still hold this view, and with some justified good reason. Indeed, we should consider our base metabolism, also known as metabolic rate to professionals and for us non-professionals, the amount of calories we burn simply being alive and doing nothing all day. But our metabolism goes far beyond this, one factor to consider is the amount of muscle we have on our bodies. Commonly, those losing weight and exercising on a regular basis (a recommended average of 21 minutes moderate exercise per day) without muscle-strengthening exercises being part of their routine, lose muscle mass. A loss in muscle mass leads to a decreased metabolic rate - in other words - we exercise with no focus on muscle-strengthening and we lose weight, often heavily coming from muscle mass ... we lose muscle and so our metabolism decreases and thus it's trickier to lose weight. To overcome this, we should be building into our routine around two exercise sessions per week that focus on muscle-strengthening, and which focus on major muscles such as shoulders, arms, and abdomen. This can merely be light and non-strenuous, the aim of this is to maintain muscle mass as we lose fat; of course, if you'd like to gain muscle mass then an alternative muscle-strengthening routine should be sought such as that discussed by NerdFitness. 

Other things to consider when planning to lose weight is: 

It doesn't need to be a Monday or the first of a month - you can change your diet and lifestyle at any time, why wait if it's something you want to do and have planned for?

It's going to be hard work - very little comes easy these days and weight loss isn't one, you're going to have highs and lows and times where you really want to quit, but don't - but equally, don't force it - you need to be ready and willing to do it. A great way to stay on track and overcome hurdles along the way is to build a network of others who are also losing weight and have or likely to face similar hurdles as you will. A gym or home-workout buddy is also great idea.

Don't avoid fats - fats can be your friend if you understand them. They can help to make you feel full and speed up your metabolism; try to eat good fats at every meal - fats from such foods as avocados, nuts & seeds, and coconut oil.

Have fun - this is a unique experience and is your journey.

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