Weight Loss Strategies
It seems like everyone wants to offer their advice when
you are on a diet. Everyone, even people who are overweight, has tips for you.
Many of these tips can help you on your path to lasting weight loss, but many
will steer you in the wrong direction. The bottom line is that everyone is
different and each person responds to weight-loss strategies differently. Although
there’s no foolproof diet that works for everyone, strategies for success do exist.
Commit to Change
Acknowledge that losing weight and maintaining that loss
requires lifetime dedication. Instead of focusing on a “diet,” cast a wider net.
Imagine a lifestyle overhaul. When people focus solely on the goal of weight
loss, they are often left without direction when that goal is achieved. By
looking at the bigger picture and focusing on a healthy life and subsequently a
healthy weight, you set the stage for lasting habits. Once you’ve made the
commitment, you can develop an action plan and get started.
Set SMART Goals
Keep your goals SMART:
This acronym, and similar versions of it, is frequently
used in management, but is a great basis for weight-loss and fitness goals.
“Cut out all dairy, sugar, meat, and carbs” is neither a
practical nor a reasonable goal, nor is “Drop
two dress sizes in the next six months.”
While the latter is more specific, it may not be a realistic goal. Vague
goals don’t hold you accountable like specific ones do. Without specific
numbers (i.e. 2 inches in two weeks), or very specific goals (to fit into my
favorite jeans in six weeks), you can easily jeopardize your weight-loss
strategy. You must be able to track your goals through measurements or a series
of smaller goals. This ensures that you are making positive changes to get the
results you want, and motivates you to keep going.
Being realistic helps ensure you aren’t setting yourself
up for disappointment. Disappointment can lead to discouragement, which can
send you back to old habits. Despite the double-digit weekly weight loss shown
on reality TV competitions, the surest way to achieve safe, permanent weight
loss is to shed 1 to 2 pounds per week. That means consuming 500 to 1,000 fewer
calories than you expend per day.
Combat Portion Distortion
Portion sizes have exploded during the past few decades.
An intriguing study published in the April 2010 issue of the International Journal of Obesity looked at the meals depicted in 52 of the best-known paintings
of the Last Supper and found that in the past 1,000 years, the main courses
grew by 69 percent, the plate size by 66 percent, and the bread size by 23
While indulging in oversized portions might be fun, it’s
a surefire way to destroy weight loss and general health efforts. An easy way
to keep serving size in mind is to compare food to everyday objects. For
example, a proper serving size equals:
- one slice of whole-grain bread or pancake
(the size of a CD case)
- 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta (the size of
a cupcake wrapper)
- half a bagel (the size of a hockey puck)
- 1 cup of cold breakfast cereal (the size of
a yogurt cup)
- 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables (the size of
the bulb part of a light bulb)
- one small baked potato (the size of a
- one medium apple (the size of a baseball)
- 3 ounces of chicken breast, fish, or lean
beef (the size of a deck of cards or the size of your palm, minus the
- 1 ounce of cheese (the size of a pair of
dice or the size of your thumb, from tip to base)
- 2 tablespoons of nut butter (the size a
whole walnut shell)
- 1 cup of yogurt or milk (the size of a
standard yogurt cup)
Freshen Up Your Diet
Try not to view your new eating habits as restrictive.
You can lower your calorie intake and still include tasty foods in your diet.
Be adventurous and replace apples and bananas with more pomegranates and
mangoes. Swap boring white rice for more exotic (and often even more
nutritious) quinoa, amaranth, Israeli couscous, or chia seeds. Make lean
ostrich or buffalo burgers instead of using artery-clogging ground beef. Trade
your morning cereal for creamy no- or low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with honey,
flaxseed, berries, and a little high-fiber cereal. You’ll pep up your taste
buds and won’t feel deprived while adding nutritious powerhouses to your new
Fill Up On Fiber
An American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition study found fiber to be
protective against weight gain. High-fiber foods take longer to digest, so you’ll
feel full longer. Plus, many fruits and vegetables, which are typically high in
fiber, contain water. This provides calorie-free volume. Fiber-rich foods that
you should add to your snack and meals include:
Download to Drop Weight
Keeping a food diary is another proven tool in your
weight loss arsenal. A study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found
that daily food recorders lost twice the weight as those who didn’t write down
what they ate. Taking the time to jot down “tuna on pita bread with carrot
sticks” or “mac and cheese” forces you to reflect on your choices. It also
provides data for meetings with your nutritionist or trainer, who can easily
identify patterns and areas in need of improvement.
If writing “caramel brownie” in a food diary encourages
you to eat fewer calories, the same theory might apply to Facebook posts like “Michelle…enjoyed
yogurt with blueberries for breakfast” or “Bridgette…is off to yoga.” It can be
especially helpful if a group of friends commits to a change with an agreement
to regularly post progress and send reaffirming comments.
Yes, you will lose weight by cutting calories. But
committing to a daily workout will boost your burn and ramp up results. In
addition to burning calories, you’ll slash your risk of certain medical conditions
and lengthen your lifespan. One way to get and stay motivated is to buy a
fitness tracker or pedometer. The widely accepted goal is 10,000
steps per day. People who meet that goal are more likely to net 30 minutes of
moderate physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. This can
result in reduced blood pressure and increased weight loss.
Also, make certain you are combining cardiovascular
exercise like running or biking with strength training and flexibility
training. These three components are the basis of lasting physical health and
can reduce cardiovascular disease, increase bone density, and improve
flexibility while reducing aches and pains.
Whether it’s your spouse, a coworker, an online support
group, a healthcare professional, or a trainer, make sure you have someone who
will hold you accountable. It should be someone who will listen to you when you’re
frustrated or tired, and cheer you on.
According to the Journal of Consulting
and Clinical Psychology, people who are on
a weight-loss journey with friends or family members are not only more likely
to lose the weight they intend to, they are also more likely to keep it off.
Identify Your Roadblocks
Be honest with yourself, and identify potential sticky
situations before they
arise. Then make a plan for dealing with them when they do. If you’re a parent
of a toddler and often find yourself finishing their leftover noodles and
chicken nuggets, pop a piece of mint gum while they’re eating to stop mindless
nibbling. Chocoholics can prepare for cravings by storing individually wrapped,
bite-size pieces in the freezer. When the longing for fudge hits, unwrap and
eat one piece at a time. That way, you’ll have to wait for each serving.
One of the most frequent obstacles for people is lack of
convenience. Making healthy meals ahead of time and having fresh fruits and
vegetables cut up and in the refrigerator can make wise snacks just as readily
available as processed, unhealthy snacks.
Push Past Plateaus
Weight-loss plateaus can happen to even the most
dedicated dieter. A plateau occurs when your metabolism changes as it grows
accustomed to the lifestyle changes you have made. After a few months of
continuous weight loss, you may find your progress stalled despite still
dieting and working out. This can be incredibly frustrating.
To break through, you’ll need to decrease caloric intake
even further and increase activity to start shedding pounds again. Try cutting
200 calories from your daily meal plan (as long as this doesn’t put you below
1,200 calories total). Bump up your workout time by 15 or 30 minutes, or ramp
up the intensity. Incorporate some more walking throughout the day by getting
off public transportation one stop early or walking instead of driving to the grocery
store for a few odds and ends. Plateaus happen to everyone. You can and will
move past them to reach your goal weight.
Losing weight and attaining better health is a learning
process, and it’s one that doesn’t come overnight. Steadfast commitment to
change will allow you to adopt the healthy habits that will help you achieve your
goals and maintain a healthy weight for