Sometimes, when we’re feeling ready for a change, we want it to happen fast: impossibly so. At the moment of commitment, fast couldn’t be fast enough. While the following 12 tips won’t peel weight off you like an unhealthy cleanse diet, they will instill the necessary behavioral strategies to make a lasting change and achieve effective weight loss.
Oh, by the way? Cleanse diets? Don’t do them – any diet that promises immediate gratification ultimately fails. These strategies are long-term tenants for a reason – they may not be instantaneous, but you’ll be amazed by your results over the process of your change. You’ll be happy to find that these commandments really, truly work.
1. Eradicate any and all liquid Calories.
Whether it’s one of the ubiquitous, trendy “green juices”, alcohol, or orange juice, toss your liquid calories now. Many people tend to use the “but it’s healthy calories” excuse to justify liquid calories like red wine. It doesn’t matter how healthy the source of excess calories is; if it’s making you gain weight or preventing you from achieving necessary weight loss, it’s no longer a healthy choice.
2. Increase your vegetable consumption.
We tend to over-consume just about everything aside from vegetables. Vegetables have the lowest caloric cost of anything we consume. When you replace some of your typical food volume with vegetables, you stay just as full for a fraction of the calories, reducing your caloric intake without the temptation of hunger driving you to the cupboard seeking more (unnecessary) food. When our body doesn’t receive the adequate amount of fiber and volume we should be consuming from vegetables, our body stays hungry, fueling our urge to eat more.
3. Measure everything.
The only way weight gain occurs is when caloric intake exceeds caloric expenditure. That means you have to stop eating more calories than you burn. Aim to limit your consumption to 10 calories per pound of body weight. If you have a large amount of weight to lose, aim to consume 10 calories per pound of your goal weight. Measure and record the calories in everything you eat in a food journal. Use real measuring cups and spoons, and use a calorie database (calorieking.com is most accurate) to make sure you aren’t sabotaging yourself. Many people are initially turned off by the idea of calorie counting. But if you can’t measure something, you can’t improve upon it.
4. Get moving – a little can go a long way.
A lot of us use lack of time as a convenient excuse to not move more. Even if you feel as though you don’t have the time or the energy for a full workout, incorporating more movement into your day is an attainable goal, and the few extra calories you expend during that activity can add up to small amounts of weight loss over time. Furthermore, moving a little inspires you to move more and tackle greater obstacles later on – you may start by taking the stairs instead of an elevator, and then gradually progress to walking and jogging.
Anyone can incorporate the following bursts of movement into a daily routine. Don’t expect massive weight loss results with these activities. Think of them as a launching pad to greater physical fitness, by which greater caloric expenditure can be achieved when performed in conjunction with an increase in your exercise routine.
- Taking the stairs instead of an elevator.
- Parking your car in an “inconveniently far” spot, forcing you to walk further to work or the store.
- Standing and pacing while taking a phone call.
- Taking one, 3 minute break each hour to walk around the office: go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, say hello to a coworker.
- Choose a bathroom that’s further away than the closest location – have to go up or down a flight of stairs to get there? Even better.
- Try this two minute routine every morning and evening: Do 10 push ups, 10 jumping jacks, and hold a plank for 1 minute. Not quite there yet? Do 10 assisted push ups, either on your knees or with your hands braced against a countertop, march in place for 1 minute, and perform 25 crunches or sit ups. By the end of the week, you’ll have added an extra 28 minutes of exercise. In a month, you’ll have accrued nearly an extra two hours.
5. Cut the carb-fest.
Most of us eat way too many grain-based carbohydrates. Try limiting your serving to 3 per day. One serving is 1 slice of bread, ½ cup of cooked pasta, ¼ cup dry oatmeal, or any other 70-100 calories variation of grain.
6. Walk during your lunch hour.
Don’t have time to hit the gym after work? Even strolling leisurely for 30 minutes during your lunch hour could burn 80 Calories, which amount to 400 additional calories burned per five day work week. If you monitor your calories (see #3) this little additional activity could help you lose an extra ⅓ of a pound per month- 4 lbs per year!
7. Rethink your cooking fat.
Don’t underestimate the caloric potency of healthy fats! Even olive oil and canola oil contains 120 calories per tablespoon. If you’re trying to lose weight, use pan spray instead. You can eliminate thousands of calories in a year just by reducing cooking fats to a minimum.
8. Increase your dairy consumption.
Like vegetables, most of us don’t consume enough dairy – a great source of protein and calcium. Try incorporating Greek yogurt and low-fat cheese into your diet to help prevent bone loss and squash hunger.
9. Give yourself permission.
If you want to have M&M’s, that’s ok. Just take note of the calorie content and work it into your diet; don’t just call it a “splurge” and then go off the rails for the rest of the day. Any sound diet is about moderation. Working a treat into your daily caloric intake promotes long-term adherence to the big picture plan, and you won’t gain weight as long as the calories are accounted for.
10. Be picky.
It’s nearly impossible to eat out regularly and lose weight. Limit restaurant dining to as few occasions as you can. Research shows the average entree contains over 1,400 calories, and even dishes that sound healthy can be deceiving.
11. Mini goals- making the big dream attainable.
Make your goals small. You can have a large, overarching goal you’d like to achieve, but breaking that larger goal into “mini goals” helps you identify the most relevant changes you need to make to achieve the big picture you’re imagining. Try setting one or two relevant goals for yourself at a time. For example, exercising for 1 hour, three times a week, and counting calories. Once those become habit, tackle the next dietary issue, and add another workout day until you reach 7 days a week.
12. Say goodbye to the all or nothing mindset.
The majority of people fail to reach their goals because they adopt an all or nothing mindset – they get tempted or make a mistake, assume their day is ruined, and proceed to binge eat or not exercise for a week. Take five or ten minutes to reflect on how an all or nothing mindset has failed you before. Really come to peace with the fact that you need to change once and for all, or it’s never going to happen. Realize that when you make a mistake, the appropriate response isn’t to give up and dig a deeper hole. It’s to walk away from that hole, reminding yourself to not dig another one in the future.