7 Mind & Body Adjustments Before Starting Any Diet

7 Mind & Body Adjustments Before Starting Any Diet

Most diets fail, so what can you do to stay at a healthy weight?

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I came across a startling statistic in an article on a popular health site that claimed nearly 90% of diets fail. Although the article went viral, that failure rate turned out to be a bit exaggerated. Still, we're talking about a failure rate of about 70%, so something is wrong.

So, why are most diets failing? Well, think of weight gain as merely a symptom of a larger issue. Most people focus only on the numbers, and don't realize that their entire lifestyle might have to change to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

#1: Adjust your schedule

Before signing up for an expensive diet like Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig, (whoa, pricey!) do what you can to flip those odds from failure to success. How? Here are some free ways to prepare yourself for sustainable weight loss, and a healthier lifestyle.

Starting a new workout routine means freeing up a few hours each week from your already-packed schedule. You may think the real work lies in doing the actual workout when 99% of it is done in rearranging meetings and routines to have the time to workout. That's why a lot of people are willing to pay so much for meal delivery diets, as their #1 priority is convenience.

#2: Adjust your sleep

Sleep is so vital in weight loss and overall health as it affects leptin, ghrelin, cortisol, and growth hormone – among other things. I am a night owl and that used to think it was okay to sleep at 1am and wake up at 6:30am. I could only maintain that until I felt like I had completely run myself into the ground, and my hormone levels have yet to recover. It's digging a deep hole that is tough to get out of.

#3: Adjust your stress

Eating is a common reaction to stress, so this is a huge reason to manage your stress. The other is cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that when elevated for a period of time can really interfere with metabolic processes. If you're like me, your metabolic processes are junk to begin with, so anything that would affect that more should be avoided.

Personally, I had a really rough time with work-induced stress for years, and it was one of the reasons I started my own business. While that may sound stressful to some people, it meant the pressure of pleasing or reporting to someone above me and playing office politics was gone. My clients are theoretically my bosses, but I'm doing work that was collaboratively built and it's an entirely different feeling.

#4: Adjust your shopping

Eating healthier means more meal planning, grocery lists, and reading labels. Add this to one of those time consuming items you now have to fit into your schedule. No more zipping through the grocery store on autopilot grabbing whatever strikes your fancy. It's a tough adjustment for many.

#5: Adjust your family

Reduced dinners out, less fast food for the kids, different dinners with the husband – they're all consequences that they will face because of your commitment to get healthy. It may be rough on them to understand why you need to clean out the pantry, but they'll adjust and all be better for it. Still doesn't make it easy!

#6: Adjust your mind

Unless you adjust your mind to how you got to where you started, you may never reach a place of satisfaction. Identifying root causes and working on rewiring your brain and response mechanisms is incredibly hard. It requires introspection, opening up old wounds, and fighting yourself. Not everyone needs to go to therapy, but many of us do. It's a huge time and monetary investment, and the work is messy for something as seemingly easy as sitting on a chair and talking.

#7: Adjust your body

It's painful to start exercise if you've been sedentary. Heck, it's painful to exercise if you've been away for a couple weeks. It's not a comfortable feeling. You have to work to figure out what to do, and how to do it. You learn certain things bore you and others excite you.

You might get injured and end up having to adjust your body in an entirely different way. If you aren't getting the results you think you should be, you might need to get lots of blood work and become an advocate for you as the patient seeking answers. So while you may think that going to the gym is part of "visible work," there are so many other things that go into it before it is a consistent, enjoyable routine.

I'm not saying all of this to make you think it's impossible to lose weight or get healthy. It's worth it. I'm taking time to meal plan and figure out what will work for me in the long run. I'm testing new eating guidelines to see if they make me feel better, worse, or the same.

My exercise has been limited with my ankle so I've had to adjust my workouts to include swimming again, which means even more time to get ready and then shower afterwards. It requires feeling uncomfortable for the 20 steps from the pool locker room to the water where I fret about having to share a swim lane. It's a lot of work, but it's what needs to be done to make things happen.

The invisible work is where the difference will be made. Do the invisible work.

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5 Ways to Use Your Smartphone to Lose Weight + Get Fit

Your iPhone can be a great tool for diet and fitness, and many of the best features and apps are free! Here's how to use your smartphone to lose weight and get in shape

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Did you know that your new iPhone is more than a million times more powerful than all of NASA's computing power in 1969? You could definitely say that the smartphone is a giant leap for mankind.

You probably rely on your smartphone for dozens of things every day, but did you know your phone can be your health and fitness coach? Some modern devices come with health tools built-in, but there are hundreds of apps you can install to tailor it to your own needs. Smartphones could be the answer to the global problem of obesity and the rising level of diseases like diabetes.

The broad range of health and fitness apps available means you can use technology to achieve whatever goal you choose. For example, a running app can be used to train and prepare for a 5k or marathon. If you want to reduce your alcohol consumption or increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet, there are apps that can help.

The following smartphone tools can improve your fitness and help you to lose weight, and most are free.

#1. Heart rate monitors

The free Health app on an iPhone offers a range of options and ways to monitor your fitness, including a heart rate monitor. For older devices and Android smartphones, there are apps available to track your heart rate and stress levels.

Heart rate apps work using the device's built-in camera and are a convenient way of taking a heart reading without the need for a fitness tracker or other equipment. Knowing your heart rate can help you to exercise at the correct level of intensity.

Best heart rate monitor app for iPhone / Android? Try Instant Heart Rate from Azumio. ($4.99 for iPhone, free for Android)

#2. Activity monitors

Monitoring your physical activity can be very helpful if you want to improve your fitness. An app like Google Fit can track the number of steps you take in a day and be used to track your progress to a goal. Most experts suggest a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. Tracking your activity levels and BMI can motivate you to find the time to exercise, and it's rewarding to see what you're achieving.

Best activity monitor app for iPhone / Android? Try Human Activity Tracker from Mapbox

#3. Exercise reminders

If you find it hard to build exercise into your daily routine, a nudge from your smartphone may be what you need. Google's (free) Calendar app can be used to set goals like 'Run 3 miles twice a week.'

The free app will suggest times of the day you can fit this in and remind you when it's time to put your shoes on. Some apps, like MapMyRun, offer the option to become part of a virtual community where you can encourage each other and share tips and ideas for sticking to your exercise plans.

Best free exercise reminder app for iPhone / Android? Try Johnson & Johnson's Official 7 Minute Workout

#4. Mindfulness apps

As well as helping to improve your physical fitness, there are smartphone apps focussing on mental well-being. Mindfulness has become very popular over the past couple of years, and an app is a great way to experiment with some of the techniques.

Your smartphone can take you through guided meditation exercises for improving well-being and aiding relaxation. Mindfulness apps can also help you to sleep better, and this, in turn, will improve your physical health and appetite for exercise.

Best mindfulness app for iPhone/ Android? Try Insight Timer for free, or Aura for a monthly ($7.99) or annual fee.

#5. Virtual personal trainers

If you lack the motivation to stick to an exercise program but can't afford a personal trainer, a virtual coach on your smartphone could be the answer. Basic versions are free, but for more advanced personal trainer apps charge a subscription fee.

They can suggest exercises to target different areas of the body, track your progress towards goals and even play music to keep you moving. Some apps also allow you to video conference with a real personal trainer and find local groups you can exercise with.

Weight Watchers now offers personal coaching that adds unlimited phone calls and text messages to your WW Digital subscription, but it will cost you more than FreeStyle (Online) only.

Best workout apps for iPhone or Android? Try MyFitnessPal, Map My Fitness, PEAR Personal Fitness Coach, or Workout Trainer from Skimble

Weight Loss & Fitness: Also Consider Wearing a Smartwatch

Smartwatches and other wearable devices like FitBit are taking fitness apps to the next level. Although I don't like watches and wearables for email or business-related use, they can be great for health and weight loss. Think about your current exercise goals and needs, and try some apps to see how they can help. (Just try not to lose them!)

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