by Justin Curcio

There are no shortcuts to losing weight and keeping it off, but it might not be as hard as you think. The longstanding principle of proper diet and exercise has been proven successful time and time again, but what does that entail?

Look at the Nutritional Facts
What you eat is what you get. Eating foods with large amounts of sugar or carbohydrates is enjoyable at the moment but quickly fades, leaving you feeling exhausted and lethargic. One of the fastest ways to gain or lose weight is through sugar and carbohydrates. Now, not all sugars and carbohydrates are bad, but in large amounts, they will undoubtedly lead to an excess of unnecessary calories and weight gain.

One of the most important tenants of nutrition is simply looking at the nutritional facts of what you are eating. You will be shocked with some of the ingredients like the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in some products. Many products can be deceiving. “100% juice” is a great example. The only ingredient is oranges, so how bad could this be? If you compare a 12oz glass of orange juice, a 12oz Coca-Cola, and a medium-size orange, you see how:

Oranges are good for you. However, consuming too much of anything is not. That is the misleading truth about 100% juice products. It sounds healthy, and in small amounts, it is, but you need to keep in mind how many servings of a single fruit it takes to make a 12oz glass of juice. The beneficial nutrition and fiber lost during the processing of orange juice are also not considered.

Salad dressings can be another surprisingly unhealthy option. Many pre-made salad dressings are loaded with sugars and carbohydrates. Most people eat salads to be healthy, but to overload it with store-bought dressings is detrimental. A simple and easy solution is to just make your dressing with the oil and vinegar of your choice and cut a lot of unnecessary sugars and carbohydrates out of your diet.

The most important thing about watching your diet is knowing exactly what you are eating. Here are a few quick tips when it comes to nutrition:

» Try to avoid sweetened beverages. Stick to water, black coffee or unsweetened tea.

» Cook your own meals. This is a great way to lose unwanted pounds and save money. Cooking your meals allows you to know exactly what you are eating.

» Avoid eating out. Restaurants want to serve you good tasting food, not necessarily healthy food. Cutting back on eating out is a great way to lose weight.

» Portion control. Have a plan for the total amount of food you are going to eat. Do not just eat until you are completely stuffed. Look at the nutrition label, read the serving size and eat only a predetermined amount.

» Limit the amount of time you consume calories. Intermittent fasting is an established way to lose unwanted weight by only consuming calories during a set window of time. It is recommended to start with an 8-hour window to consume your calories and a 16-hour window of fasting.

There is significant debate about the best way to lose weight exercising—lifting weights, running, cycling, competitive sports, swimming…the list goes on and on. The most important thing about exercising is actually going out and doing something physically straining. Showing up to the gym or putting on those running shoes is half the battle.

Find a physical activity that increases your heart rate and stick with it. Find a form of exercise you enjoy doing and push yourself while doing it. Be consistent. If you already have an exercise routine but do not see the results you want, it is time to self-reflect. Are you pushing yourself as hard as you can? Are you spending enough time engaged in your chosen form of exercise?

Exercising to stay in shape is supposed to be challenging. If you are going through the same routine and do not see results, it’s time to reevaluate your exercise plan. Exercising should be fun but also challenging. If you do the same exercise routine with the same goals and expectations, why would you ever expect change in your results? Try running an extra ¼ mile, push yourself a little harder each time, and see the weight fall off.

Losing weight does not have to be over complicated with crazy diets or exercise routines. All it takes is a proper diet and exercise. Be aware of what you are eating and challenge yourself when you exercise