More and more people are trying to lose weight, but fewer and fewer people are finding that they're able to keep the weight off. Most people approach a diet and exercise routine from the standpoint that they want to get thin and build some muscle, but don't think about what they'll do when they get there, or how to keep it. It's as though they want to be thin, so that they can look sexy while sitting on the coach eating potato chips. In reality, you'll only be able to lose weight and keep if off if you commit to making changes in your diet and exercise habits, and keeping those changes in place. Below are seven tips to help you get started, and keep you on the right track.
1. Change your eating habits. No matter how much you want it, you'll never lose weight on the "ice cream and chips" diet. But you'll also never lose weight if you eat mostly healthy on most days, then undo everything by eating badly the rest of the time. To lose weight, choose healthier foods "especially fruits and vegetables" and try to eat a little less than you do now. Don't go crazy, though: your weight loss plan will only backfire if you eat entirely too little and wind up binge eating later to make up for starving yourself.
2. Eat small, frequent meals. Doctors are finding that eating five or six small meals throughout the day is healthier than eating three big meals instead. Eating several small meals also helps you lose weight by helping to control hunger, keeping your metabolism up all day long, and also keeping your energy and blood sugar consistent.
3. Eat mostly veggies. Here's an easy recipe for a healthy dinner any night of the week that will help you lose weight: fill half or two-thirds of a small dinner plate with veggies (raw or steamed is best), then add one small serving of lean protein (i.e., fish, chicken breast, lean beef, beans, tofu), and a half cup of some type of whole grain (rolled oats, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, etc.). Remember to keep the protein portion small -no bigger than the palm of your hand and no thicker than your index finger; most of us get much more protein than we need.
4. Give yourself a small treat. There's no point in trying to lose weight if it makes you feel like you're living in a prison. Give yourself a small treat every day to help keep you motivated, and keep you from feeling deprived. A few good options are a small cup of pudding, a few pieces of candy, or small ice cream sandwich. A few squares of dark chocolate are also a great option, since dark chocolate full of antioxidants and is actually good for you!
5. Weigh yourself regularly. But only once a week. You need to see that you're making progress, so weighing yourself regularly is a must. But don't weigh yourself every day, as your weight tends to fluctuate on a daily basis by as much as three pounds, and seeing your weight every single day could be very discouraging. Instead, look for long-term progress and remember that healthy weight loss only happens at one or two pounds per week.
6. Exercise regularly. This will help you burn calories and add muscle mass, which will burn calories on its own even when you rest. Don't try running miles from the get-go, though: you can injure yourself if you start too abruptly, and you'll most likely want to give up after only a few days. Focus on smaller goals, and work your way up: walk around the block every night after dinner for a week, then jog a week, then run. Also look into exercise in uncommon places: at work, take the long way to the break room to get your coffee, and take the stairs whenever you can.
7. Set a realistic goal. As mentioned earlier, healthy weight loss only happens at a rate of one or two pounds per week, so you can't expect to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. Remember to look at the long term: if you want to lose 20 pounds, plan for it to take 20 weeks, and remember that because of how your weight fluctuates, you might see more weight loss one week, and none the next. Stick to your routine or healthy food and exercise, however, and when you lose that weight, it'll stay off.