Leading a healthy life has never been more confusing in today’s health-crazed, transformation-focused world. It seems there is a new breakthrough diet released every few days through social media, TV infomercials or online banner ads. With readily available pre-packaged meal plans, new fitness equipment and low-carb and non-fat eating guides, how do you know what’s true and what’s false advertising?

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Finding the right balance between exercise and nutrition is crucial for a successful weight loss strategy.
  2. Plateau effect is real, but can be overcome.
  3. Leading a healthy life is easier than you think!

Finding the “right” weight loss strategy

Here’s the secret: there is no one-size-fits-all, perfect plan. There is, however, an answer for you through knowledge of how nutrition and exercise can lead to lifelong healthy habits.

The path to weight loss begins with an understanding that nutritional needs and energy expenditure levels are unique per individual. While many weight loss programs promote the restriction of certain food groups or macronutrients, the truth is the human body was designed to be fueled through a certain level of caloric intake derived from proteins, fats and carbohydrates each day to function at a high level.

Naturally, the levels of macronutrients needed per individual, determined by height, weight, gender, physical activity level, and most important of all – fitness goals will very. There are plenty of “macro-calculators” online available for free use. Identifying these numbers is the critical first step in the journey to maintaining, losing or gaining your way to the proper weight in line with your goals.

The second step forward is determining what your energy expenditure is. Energy expenditure is a fancy word for the difference between how many calories are consumed and how many calories are burned each day. Again, your expenditure is unique depending on your levels of activity and eating habits.

Self-awareness is highly underrated. By becoming aware of your eating habits and physical exercise levels, weight goals can be directly taken into your own hands.

How to overcome that plateau

A plateau is a term defined as a slowing or stalling of weight loss, according to Mayo Clinic. As you lose weight, you also lose muscles, which is a major source of calorie burning. As muscle mass decreases with weight loss, the body requires more activity in order to burn the same amount of calories as before.

This is a crucial aspect of understanding why simple exercise is not enough to lose weight and keep it off. The body has a habit of adapting to whatever you throw at it, and weight loss is no different.

As you continue to exercise in our pursuit of losing unwanted pounds, it is important to support our efforts with protein-rich, healthy-fat foods. You want your muscle mass levels to remain high while decreasing levels of fat. By doing so, those frustrating plateaus will eventually be subdued.

A balanced approach to weight loss

 All this talk about macronutrients, energy expenditures, plateaus, muscle mass – who has the time? Leading a healthy life is easier than you think. Like any endeavor worthwhile, it takes time to absorb knowledge and establish a foundation. By practicing healthy eating habits (think macronutrient needs) along with a steady energy expenditure (consistent physical exercise), you will be fast on your way to creating healthy habits for a lifetime.

A common mistake people make when trying to adopt healthy habits is trying to do it all at once. By taking small steps toward health, you give yourself the best chance to remain on the path to a healthy life.