Covert Bailey says that losing weight is as simple as promising yourself that you’ll eat less and move more. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, and then keep it off, you know it’s not quite that simple. Real sustainable weight loss requires a lifestyle change, which begins with preparing yourself for new behaviors. Here are 5 simple proven weight loss strategies.
1. Start small. Many people set unrealistic goals for the amount of weight they want to lose, or the timeframe they want to lose it in. But get this: most people will see real health improvements by losing just 5 to 10 percent of their starting weight.
2. Set goals. As you approach your weight loss, consider short term and long term goals. Decide what your ideal weight should be, and set that number as your long-term goal. Now weigh yourself, take 5% off that number, and set that as your short term goal. I know you’ve heard it before, but your goals should be SMART:
- Time Bound.
For example, “exercise more” is a great goal, but not specific. “Walk for 60 minutes every day” is specific, but if you’re not walking at all now, is it realistic? So what about something that’s achievable, like “walk at least 15 minutes 5 days per week.” Do that for a few weeks, then add to it.
Understand that while it’s good to have clear goals, it’s also important to make your goals challenging. Research shows that people are motivated by challenging goals. In fact, the more difficult and specific a goal is, the harder people will work to achieve it. When goals are too easy or too difficult people will not put forward their best effort. So make the goal achievable, but challenging.
Everyone can find time to exercise 10 minutes each day. When you experience success at reaching a small goal, it will motivate you to keep moving toward your larger goals.
3. Write it down. Regularly record what you do on your weight-loss program, such as your daily calorie intake and amount of physical activity, as well as changes in your weight. (Try to weigh yourself at the same time of day once or twice a week.) Keeping track this way can help you and your health care provider determine what behaviors you may want to improve. Keeping tabs on your progress can also help you stay motivated.
4. Change how you eat. Changing the way you eat can help you eat less without feeling deprived. Eating slowly can help you feel satisfied sooner, and therefore you will avoid second helpings. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits and drinking plenty of low or non-caloric beverages also makes you feel fuller. Another trick is to use smaller plates and taller, narrower glasses so that moderate portions don’t seem skimpy. It can also help to set a regular eating schedule, especially if you tend to skip or delay meals.
5. Change what you eat. I’ve said it before: eat a diet of fresh, whole foods, mostly plants. Do you know why? Processed foods simply lack the nutrients found in fresh whole foods. The worst foods to eat are starches (corn, potatoes, white rice), carbohydrate filled drinks (soda, beer, fruit juice), and foods made from refined flour (pasta, bread, cereal, pizza, crackers…). A diet comprised primarily of fresh whole foods focused mostly on plants promotes a healthy system because they are full of the micronutrient vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber.