There is definitely no shortage of advice on how to lose weight—you get it from your aunt, your best friend, your colleague, over-hyped blog posts…the list goes on. The thing is that a lot of it is about “restrictions” and “toughing it out” — which often means eliminating certain foods or food groups, restricting calories, and working out to “make up for” what you ate.
But unlike the masses who believe in the hype and give in freely on living a restrictive lifestyle just to lose weight, I (and hopefully you too) am a strong proponent of losing weight but not having to do things that feel too extreme or punishing.
So, if you’re ready to lose weight without punishing yourself, here are 16` tips on doable and sustainable efforts on weight loss—promising you won’t feel sad, angry or hungry.
1. Don’t Make Any Foods Off Limits
When a food, especially the ones you love, is off-limits it becomes MUCH more appealing. And if guilt is involved and you do end up eating that food, the screw-it-I’ve-already-had-a-bite-and-ruined-everything-so-I’m-going-to-eat-the-entire-thing mentality appears.
Instead, give yourself permission to get pleasure from food. Just make sure you’re enjoying treats mindfully because you really want them, rather than just because they are there.
2. Commit To Making Just One Meal Healthier
Everyone wants to do everything all at once. That works for some people, but most people need to start with just one thing. Ask yourself: ‘What’s the meal that will have the biggest impact if I change it?’ And start there.
Breakfast is usually the easiest to change because most people are skipping it or grabbing something that’s not super healthy out of convenience. The simplest way to change it is to make sure you’re getting a balance of protein, fat, and carbs. A couple whole eggs will give you your protein and fat. Add a piece of fruit or a half cup of roasted potatoes to give you some healthy carbs. And there’s no better to the start the day than to have a nutritious and delicious breakfast.
3. Start Small When It Comes To Exercise
This means: 1. Don’t go right into doing extreme workouts and 2. Set yourself up for success by making sure you can hit the gym twice per week regularly for three to four weeks before you say you’re going to go four to five times per week.
Once you prove to yourself that you can go twice per week, then go to a three-day per week schedule, and again make sure you can do that regularly for about a month before going for four days per week. This way, you’re doing things more gradually and setting yourself up for success.
4. Make Eating Out Only For Real Special Occasions
Cooking at home means more fresh food, and generally speaking, will be more nutritious and far lower in calories than what you’re ordering when you go out. If you master batch meal prep and one-pan meals, you can easily put together delicious, healthy meals you’ll look forward to eating. When you have something to celebrate (like it’s your partner’s birthday), go out and enjoy that special meal.
5. Try Not To Snack On All Your Breaks
Lots of people like to take a break from work by getting up to grab a snack, not necessarily because they feel hungry but just because they need to step away from their desk for a bit. Instead of eating when you’re not hungry, get up, have some water, and say hello to a co-worker on the way back. You’ll de-stress and forget about the snack you didn’t really want in the first place.
6. Make Water Your Beverage of Choice
Try swapping out at least one sugary drink (soda, juice, sweetened coffee drinks, etc.) per day with water (or fruit-infused water or unsweetened flavored seltzer to keep things more interesting). As you get used to having more water and fewer sugary drinks, keep making the swap until water is your primary go-to drink throughout the day. Bonus: It’ll help digestion and make you feel great.
7. Get Into Strength Training
Cardio tends to get all of the attention, but strength training helps you build lean muscle, which in turn increases your metabolism and ability to burn calories. If you really want to see results, be sure to include a few days of strength training into your weekly mix! But remember, start small and never exert yourself.
8. Spend More Time Around Like-Minded Dieters
This not only applies to business—be courageous and join a community of people who have similar weight loss, health and fitness goals and then crush them together! When you don’t have people holding you accountable, it’s easy to set a goal and keep it a secret, so when you don’t accomplish it, no one really knows and it’s like you never set it in the first place—you get off way too easy.
But having a team of people who want what you want will inspire you to keep SHOWING UP when the going gets tough.
9. Learn to Portion Correctly
Because most people don’t really know how much they eat throughout the day and where that puts them calorie-wise, we generally end up eating more than we want or expect. It’s helpful to measure your food so you can have a better appreciation for how much food you’re actually eating. This doesn’t have to be a forever kind of thing; measuring food can be tedious. Just do it for a day or two to get a sense of how much you’re actually eating.
As an example, what people think is a tablespoon of peanut butter (by eye-balling) ends up being two (if not) more tablespoons. When you start to measure your food and begin to understand what a 1/2 cup of oatmeal or four ounces of beef actually looks like, it becomes readily apparent how much you’ve been OVERestimating your food intake.
10. Eat One Serving of Vegetables 3 Times a Day
Vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber and other nutrients. They’ll add bulk to your meal, helping you feel full, while giving your cells the nutrients needed to function at your best.
11. Pile on Minimally Processed Plant-Based Foods To Your Diet
It is pretty clear that nearly everyone in America isn’t eating enough vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains. These foods offer the most nutrition, help us feel satisfied, and displace some of the other less nutritious options. Plus, eating more plants is a positive step for the environment and animals. And when we make behavioral decisions that influence the greater good, we’re more likely to feel motivation to continue them long-term.
12. Set Your Goals Based on How Strong, Fast and Fit You Want to Feel
It has always been a lot easier for me to stick to a fitness program when I base my goals on strength or conditioning rather than physical goals. I keep a workout journal to track the metrics so that I know exactly what progress I’ve made. The kind of progress where you’re deadlifting 10 pound plates on day 1 and then 45 pound plates 2 months later—keeps me motivated.
13. Eat More Fat
This may sound counterintuitive—but when trying to lose weight, many people make the mistake of cutting fat from their diet, which can leave them feeling super hungry, cranky, and less likely to stick to the plan long-term (which is key!). Adding in healthy fats boosts satiation and keeps you from noshing on simple carbs and sugar, or giving up too soon.
Try to incorporate healthy fat throughout the day. I like to start my day with an avocado-filled green smoothie, throw nuts on my salad for lunch, and sip on a mid-afternoon bulletproof (butter) coffee.
14. Nobody Is Perfect
The quickest way to torpedo your efforts to be healthier is to expect perfection and then be crushed when that (inevitably) doesn’t happen. Try to tweak your approach to lifestyle changes from ‘winning’ to ‘learning,’ where missteps are just an opportunity to evaluate what went wrong and do something different next time. If you take what you learned and use it to readjust your goal, you’ll be working with realistic goals you can actually achieve.
15. Get Some Coaching
Find a qualified, experienced, caring, empathic professional and let them help you find your next steps; habits and practices that’ll work within the context of your real, probably complicated, probably overcommitted life.
The truth is, there’s no one simple trick that will work for every person, in every culture, in every life situation. So run away, fast, from someone who tells you otherwise. While you’re at it, run towards people that can provide guidance, support, and accountability. They’ll save you years of false starts, frustration, and disappointment.
16. Keep Things Simple
Constantly obsessing over losing weight is counterproductive.
When you’re stressed crazy things happens to your body. You’ll ultimately have a harder time losing weight. So, don’t think too much and over-complicate things.
With weight loss, always remember, simplicity is best.
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