Let’s face it, at one point or another most of us have had that feeling. We look in a mirror and all we can say is “Wow.” What happened? How did we let ourselves get this way? Usually what follows is looking up whatever diet is the new “in” diet so that we can lose the extra pounds. And therein lies the problem. Each of us are different. Our bodies are made differently and we need to understand and respect that. Plus everyone gets into that situation differently. Some people eat too much fast food, some drink too much soda, some have no idea what portion control is and some just need to restrict certain things like fats or carbs. Whatever the reason, you need to figure out the cause before you can come up with the solution. Fast Food Addict Do you find yourself always on the go? No time to cook, so you’ll just pick something up on the way? You may be a fast food addict. We all know fast food has a huge amount of salt, fat, and additives, but it’s just so darn convenient. If this is you, simply eating more food at home may be the answer to your problems. I know how hard it can be to find the time to cook. At one point in my career, I was working 12 hour overnight shifts at a job that was 45 minutes from my house. The last thing I wanted to do in what little free time I was given was to cook for myself, so, I would just grab something on the way home. I put on 30 pounds in six months. If you have the budget for it, consider getting onto a program where the food is prepared for you. There are several out there, just Google them. If that is not an option for you, then you need to find time to cook. My solution was to prepare a week’s worth of food on one of my days off. I would make one or two different dishes and refrigerate a few day’s worth while freezing the rest. That way, dinner was ready in a couple of minutes while I save a lot of money by not going out to eat. Cooking at home takes a lot of time if you do it every day, however if you spend only one day a week cooking a larger quantity of food, it takes less time overall because not only are you not having to put in the work every day, cooking a larger amount of food only takes a little but more time than cooking a single meal. Junk Food Addict Do you crave candy throughout the day? Maybe you go through a soda or two every day of the week. Junk if is always good even if it is never really good for you. If you find it hard to get through the day without craving something that is all but devoid of nutritional value, you may be a junk food addict. While it if OK to eat a candy bar every so often, having one every day is going to lead to problems. If you simply have to satisfy your sweet tooth, and you want to lose weight, you need to make smarter choices. As much as some people seem adverse to it, fruit really is a good choice. It is sweet while also having a good amount of nutritional value. Plus, eating something natural is always preferable to the preservatives and artificial stuff found in candy and soda. If the whole fruit thing is not your style, you can always try dark chocolate. Just make sure to have no more that one piece a day, and make sure it is very dark. I would recommend 80% or more. Portion Control One common problem is that people simply don’t know what an acceptable portion is. The common misconception is that you just fill up the plate, and your portions just be good. Loading up with a couple pounds of pasta is not the same as having one portion. Portion size is different for all foods, and you should Google “portion size” to get an idea as to what you should be eating. Things that may help at home are a food scale and measuring out what you eat before putting it on your plate. A food scale allows you to see what one portion of chicken or beef you should serve. If you want a six-ounce piece of chicken, you simply put it on the scale and you know you are eating the right amount. Likewise, you can use a simple measuring cup to figure out what a half cup of spaghetti sauce or a cup of vegetables looks like. All of these things can help to get an idea as to how much you should actually be eating for a meal. Low Fat vs. Low Carb This one is big because both sides have supporters and both sides have had fad diets associated with them. The main thing here is to remember not to eliminate anything, but simply reduce whatever one you know causes problems for you. I know through years of trial and error that a low carb approach works for me. The only reason I know that is because I have spent many years trying to lose weight, and have tried just about every kind of diet out there. You just need to analyze what you are eating. Do you eat a lot of bread and potatoes with every meal? Do you find yourself craving snacks like crackers and pretzels instead of sweets? Then you may need to watch your carbs to help you lose weight. If on the other hand you are always looking for snacks high in fats, or filled with oil, then going low-fat me be in your best interest. Just keep in mind that you do not want to eliminate anything, just reduce the foods that may be a problem for you. In Summary Just know that this is simply advice. Do not take any of this as medical in any way, and consult a doctor if you are serious about losing the weight. I simply have been dieting on and off for over 20 years. Last year I was able to lose 80 pounds, but I still have a way to go. Just make sure that before you begin your own weight loss journey that you know your body. Analyze the way you eat, and use it to find you path to better health. My only hope is that you can spend the time to figure out what you need to do to lose weight so that you don’t have to spend 20 years of trial and error to get there.