Hundreds of fad diets, weight-loss programs and outright scams promise quick and easy weight loss. However, the foundation of successful weight loss remains a healthy, calorie-controlled diet combined with exercise. For successful, long-term weight loss, you must make permanent changes in your lifestyle and health habits.
Make a commitment
Permanent weight loss takes time and effort — and a lifelong commitment. Make sure that you’re ready to make permanent changes and that you do so for the right reasons. To stay committed to your weight loss, you need to be focused. It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to change your habits. So as you’re planning new weight-loss-related lifestyle changes, make a plan to address other stresses in your life first, such as financial problems or relationship conflicts.
Find your inner motivation
No one else can make you lose weight. You must undertake diet and exercise changes to please you. What’s going to give you the burning drive to stick to your weight-loss plan? Make a list of what’s important to you to help stay motivated and focused, whether it’s an upcoming beach vacation or better overall health. Then find a way to make sure that you can call on your motivational factors during moments of temptation. Perhaps you want to post an encouraging note to yourself on the pantry door, for instance. If you prefer to keep your weight-loss plans private, be accountable to yourself by having regular weigh-ins and recording your diet and exercise progress in a journal.
Set realistic goals
Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular exercise. When you’re setting goals, think about both process and outcome goals. “Exercise every day” is an example of a process goal. “Lose 30 pounds” is an example of an outcome goal. It isn’t essential that you have an outcome goal, but you should set process goals because changing your your habits is a key to weight loss.
Make Mealtime Matter.
You might be surprised to learn that taking the time to savor your meals can actually aid your weight-loss. When you sit down to enjoy what you’re eating, thinking about every bite, you’ll feel more satisfied and eat less. Mealtime is also designed to give you a break from your hectic schedule and allow you to catch up on what’s happening in the lives of your family and/or friends. Furthermore, studies suggest that eating nutritious meals at an actual dining table is good not only for your physical health but also for your mental health, and that goes for adults and children too.
Get active, stay active
While you can lose weight without exercise, exercise plus calorie restriction can help give you the weight-loss edge. Exercise can help burn off the excess calories you can’t cut through diet alone. Exercise also offers numerous health benefits, including boosting your mood, strengthening your cardiovascular system and reducing your blood pressure. Exercise can also help in maintaining weight loss. Studies show that people who maintain their weight loss over the long term get regular physical activity.
How many calories you burn depends on the frequency, duration and intensity of your activities. One of the best ways to lose body fat is through steady aerobic exercise — such as brisk walking — for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Eat Healthy Snacks, Wherever You Are.
Regular midmorning and midafternoon snacking can be a challenge, particularly when you’re on the go. But with some planning and preparation, you can put together a healthy assortment of snacks to help curb your hunger and prevent cravings. Invest in a lightweight, reusable lunch bag that you can stock with small zip-seal bags containing healthy options like part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks, chopped veggies, whole-grain crackers with nut butter, hard-boiled eggs, and/or lean deli meats. If you don’t have time to prepare a snack, our South Beach Diet 100-Calorie Snack Bars and Good-to-Go Bars make healthy on-the-go options.
Get More Quality Sleep.
You can never be truly healthy if you don’t get enough quality sleep. Recent studies show that people who sleep less tend to weigh more. Being sleep-deprived can also increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. If you’re having trouble getting the recommended 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night, keep a sleep log to help you track your sleep habits. Be sure to include what time you go to bed and awaken each day, but also what foods, beverages, and medications you consume, and how and when you exercise. Tracking your sleep patterns will help you identify areas of your life that may be getting between you and a good night’s rest.
Change your perspective
It’s not enough to eat healthy foods and exercise for only a few weeks or even months if you want long-term, successful weight loss. These habits must become a way of life. Lifestyle changes start with taking an honest look at your eating patterns and daily routine.
After a few weeks of eating right and working out, you shouldn’t just look better. You should feel better, too! Losing weight is about improving your life, not restricting it. So be sure that you’re focusing on the positive and embracing your healthy choices each day. After all, it is a choice—and you’ve chosen to be healthy and happy!