BY K. ALEISHA FETTERS |WomensHealthMag.com
If the mere thought of starting your weight-loss journey leaves you shaking in your stilettos (or flats), we’ve got good—okay, make that amazing—news for you: Getting healthy and losing weight doesn’t have to be an intimidating prospect. (It should be an exciting one! After all, you’re about to feel better than ever before.)
To prove our point, we’ve gathered up three facts that take the “big and bad” out of weight loss. Get ready to breathe a sigh of relief:
1. One Bad Day Won’t Wreck Your Results
A lot of women beat themselves up about one “bad” day, but the fact is you physically can’t gain much weight in 24 hours. After all, since a pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories, you’d have to consume 3,500 calories more than what you burn to gain a single pound, says Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., senior science advisor at Elements Behavioral Health and author of The Hunger Fix. Okay, so an indulgent day won’t blow your results, but how restrictive do you really have to be to lose weight? Probably less than you think: “Try to stay on track 80 percent of the time, and use the leftover 20 percent as a buffer zone in which you can deviate somewhat,” she says. So, if you have an off day, there’s no reason to stress about it—just jump back in to your 80 percent.
2. Scale Creep Doesn’t Necessarily Mean You’ve Gained Weight
Does your scale say you’ve gained more than a pound? That’s because daily weight fluctuations of up to three pounds are perfectly normal, says Peeke. “Weight fluctuations depend upon a variety of factors, including your level of hydration, the number of calories you consume, the physical activity you’ve done, how much sleep you’ve had, your level of stress, as well as monthly menstrual hormonal changes.” So, if you’re following a healthy eating plan and exercising, don’t freak out if your scale says you gained a few pounds since yesterday—those fluctuations will correct themselves over time.
3. Even Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
You don’t have to overhaul your lifestyle to shed pounds. “Setting realistic expectations is critical to reducing the intimidation that often comes with a weight-loss plan,” says Peeke. “Small, doable, accessible steps are key to initiating the process—walk more, get rid of the junk food in your kitchen, pack your lunch, get to bed earlier.”