Wellness Here's how you should set and achieve your weight loss goals

T ara is frustrated. She had really been looking forward to this evening's party. She had decided to wear the gorgeous Kanjeevaram sari she had worn for her engagement two years ago. But, the blouse doesn't fit! She is shocked and angry. How has she put on so much weight in just two years after her wedding?

Tasleem has just been diagnosed as having pre-diabetes: her blood sugar level, after being given glucose in the lab, is higher than it should be, but not high enough to be labelled a diabetic. Her body mass index (BMI) is 28 and her doctor has told her in no uncertain terms that if she does not lose weight, she is at risk for developing diabetes in the coming years.

Most of us go through life fighting to maintain our ideal weight. With new-found prosperity, Indians are exposed to more and more unhealthy food, which is easily accessible. Our lifestyles have changes so much that physical activity is something we have to make an effort to achieve: most of us have sedentary lifestyles.

Healthy weight loss

The key words involved in weight loss are “smart eating” and “physical exercise”. Can you lose weight by just starving yourself? You surely can, but a rigorous, fad diet will leave you feeling sick and the weight will come back soon.  Could you lose weight just by rigorous exercise? The answer is yes, but it will take much longer.

The best way of reaching your ideal weight is to give up the obsession with losing weight and to get passionate about healthy living.

Setting weight loss goals

The reason people flounder when they set out to lose weight is that they do not set specific goals. They are vague about what is healthy weight loss or not realistic enough.

Set yourself achievable goals. If you have to lose 10 kg, give yourself three to six months to lose the first five kilos. This will help you ease yourself into a healthy eating and exercising routine. A gradual loss of weight is more sustainable. If you want to lose half a kg per week, you need to cut 500 calories per day through both diet and exercise.

Healthy eating

Do not regard healthy eating as a terrible chore which will leave you starving. Healthy eating involves avoiding food that is harmful to you, and switching to food that is good for you.  Most importantly, eat small quantities frequently. This way you can eat most of your favourite foods.

Work out three days a week

This is non-negotiable. If you do not exercise vigorously at least three days a week, you will find it hard to keep the weight off.

The rule of twos

Eat small quantities at short intervals. This will leave you feeling comfortable without feeling deprived.

Eat something soon after you wake up.

In the morning, your blood sugar levels are very low. A fruit or a glass of milk will bring your sugar levels up. This way you will not be ravenously hungry when you eat breakfast.

Breakfast can be your usual idlis or dosas or whole wheat toast- but stop at two. If you are having upma, have two small katoris. Eat small quantities after that every two hours. It can be a handful of nuts, a cup of curds, a bowl of sprouts, bhelpuri made with just puffed rice, dry khakra, a chapathi with vegetables or egg, a cup of sundal, a slice of cheese, a handful of peanuts.

The choices are there- you just have to make an effort to look for them.

Lunch can be two small katoris of rice with vegetables or dhal or sambhar.

Dinner can be one or two chapathis with a small cup of curds or vegetables or dhal.

Non-vegetarians can have chicken (no skin), fish or egg with lunch or dinner but it should be made with as little oil as possible. Drink two glasses of water just before your main meals or along with them. Confine yourself to two spoons of sugar per day. Do not indulge in soft drinks, sweets, chocolates and cakes.

Have your last meal two hours before you go to bed. Brushing your teeth soon after you have had the last meal for the day will prevent you from being tempted to have a bedtime snack.