There’s no denying that it’s hard to stay on a diet and to lose weight. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t become discouraged at some point in an attempt to drop some pounds. I recently have come across some tips for losing weight and staying on track with a weight loss plan that have helped me and I hope they help you too.
Setting Weight Loss Goals
First you need to set realistic goals and don’t make them all related to the number of pounds you want to drop. Realize that it’s not going to happen quickly. It took time to put that weight on and it is going to take time to get it off. When you find yourself discouraged that you aren’t losing as much as you’d like, remember that losing even 5 or 10% of your body weight will pay off in lots of health benefits. When setting your weight loss goals, set a low number of maybe just 1 or 2 pounds a week or whatever you realistically feel you can do. By setting a goal that is too high, you will only serve to set yourself up for failure and feel discouraged which will probably make you quit the effort altogether. Certified personal trainer, Jenn Walters, suggests approaching your weight loss as you would a business proposal. That means making a full plan including the mission, and specifically how you will meet the objective. Plan out your strategy in detail starting with an ending date so that you can work backwards from there with a weekly or monthly plan that defines exactly what you will do to meet the goal. Be sure to keep the plan of action realistic as to what you will have time and the willingness to do. For example, don’t just say you are going to start working out. Instead list exactly what exercises you will do and how many of each building up to more each week or set a time starting with maybe just 5 minutes a day that you will walk or jog and build your time from there. Each time you accomplish a small goal you increase your motivation and are more likely to continue. Be sure to include goals that aren’t related to the number of pounds you lose. There will be times when you won’t see any loss by getting on the scale. There could be a variety of reasons for this including that your extra exercise has built up muscle meaning you may weigh the same but in a healthier way and maybe you have dropped waist size and re-distributed that weight. SparkPeople.com editor and fitness expert, Nicole Nichols, advises setting goals such as staying within a range of calories that you put in your weight loss plan each week or increasing the amount of water that you drink a day, or that you take a healthy lunch from home rather than eat out.
Simon Rego, Ph.D., director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, adds that tuning in to your feelings and mood after you exercise or eat healthy will help in keeping you motivated. Acknowledging how good it feels to burn off those calories or have extra energy from eating a healthy snack will inspire you to keep it up. What most people do instead is criticize themselves for not doing enough, being overweight in the first place, beat themselves up over slipping and eating a candy bar and all sorts of self-talk that according to behavioral changes life coach Vanessa Scotto only sabotage yourself. When we criticize ourselves we trigger out fight or flight response which increases the release of cortisol and makes us crave more fat filled and sugary foods. So when you find yourself starting down the path of self-criticism, stop and find something positive to say or think about your efforts or yourself or do what Vanessa Scotto recommends which is to take some deep breaths holding your hand on your heart to adjust your physiological state and cut off the negative thinking.
Tips For Losing Weight
Once you have your weight loss goals set up in a way to maximize success, it’s time to implement your action plan. Here are some tips we’ve gathered from experts to help.
- You don’t have to feel totally deprived of your favorite foods in order to lose weight, just practice moderation. If it’s not in your kitchen, then it makes it harder to breakdown and splurge so limit the amount of sweets and comfort foods that you have available within reach. If you really feel the need for a treat, make yourself walk to the store to get it or ride your bike so that you are burning off extra calories to prepare for it.
- We all get swamped, start running late, or are just plain tired at the end of the day which can lead to grabbing convenience foods or ordering take-out from a restaurant or fast food joint. Take some time when you aren’t as busy to plan ahead and cut up veggies and fruits for snacks or salads, search the internet for healthy easy to fix recipes or crock pot recipes. Having a healthy meal all ready for you when you get home can help cut down on giving in to the ease of pre-packaged or fast food.
- A study in Obesity reports that joining in on a weight loss type group invokes our competitiveness and can help you lose as much as 20% more weight than just dieting on your own. Organize a group of friends or family members yourself or join an already organized type group if available in your area. Even just getting involved with exercise type classes or sports groups can help by encouraging you to not miss your workout times. If the team is depending on you or others will see you as slacking off on your goals, you are more likely to attend. You can also pay ahead for your classes and that will make you more likely to attend since you’ll want to make sure you get your money’s worth.
- Be sure to include protein foods in your mealtime menus. These type foods keep you feeling satisfied for longer periods of time, help build muscle and burn fat. Stick with the healthy proteins like lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, beans, and low fat dairy. A protein source I like to use is this organic whey protein powder with sprouts, protein-digesting enzymes and some AFA bluegreen algae added in for an extra nutritional punch. Using this powder to make an easy shake gives me an extra 22 grams of protein.
- New York City licensed massage therapist, Mitch Klein, recommends using massage as a way to lose weight. That fits with the findings from a study at Ohio State University that women were found to eat healthier diets when they were more accepting of their bodies. Klein believes massage can help in establishing this acceptance.
- Malena Perdomo, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, recommends adding spices and chilies to food to make them more satisfying without added calories. If you are stuck on a diet of bland foods, you are more likely to quit after a while or just be miserable. Adding a variety of flavors to your meals will help you feel less deprived and allow you to still enjoy meals.
- Filling your plate with more veggies and less starch can help you cut down your calorie intake by up to 200 calories according to Cynthia Sass, RD, another spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. So skip bread with meals, make open faced sandwiches with only one piece of bread, and make pasta with veggies using much more veggies than pasta.
- Using fruits and veggies as snack foods lets you eat a lot more so you don’t even have to feel like you are on a diet. These type snacks not only are low calorie and full of good nutrients, but also have lots of fiber and water to help you fill fuller. Along with healthy snacks, check out this nutritious snack bar fortified with sprouted grains, greens, and bluegreen algae to give your body just the right nutritional punch.
Instead of thinking that to lose weight you have to go on a diet, think of it as changing your lifestyle to develop a healthy diet. There’s a big difference in starving yourself on small portions for a limited amount of time which usually doesn’t work in keeping the weight off and in learning to eat healthy foods to support your appropriate weight for your body type. Make a plan and put it into action in this direction and you’ll find success in losing those extra pounds, feel more energetic, and be healthier.