The best method for weight loss is simple: Follow a healthy and balanced diet, and add regular exercise to your routine. Before you know it, the added weight should come right off, right? Sometimes, though, that is easier said than done.
Like many things, weight-loss methods are a lot easier to say than follow. If it was simple to suddenly change your eating habits and get your body moving on a regular basis, many of us would probably be a whole lot healthier. Unfortunately, you have to do more than just decide you’re going to make a change. You have to follow through.
To make the journey easier, here are five weight-loss strategies that should become part of your healthy lifestyle. They’ll make losing weight feel like a piece of cake.
1. Surround yourself with a support system
Things are always a lot easier when we can rely on supportive people, especially when it comes to weight loss. Business Insider mentions that we are highly influenced by the five people we spend most of our time with. They affect the way we think, the decisions we make, and even our self-esteem. It’s no wonder why having people who encourage us can be crucial in order to successfully lose weight.
Medical Daily says that one study found that clinically obese women were more likely to lose and/or maintain weight if they were supported by family and friends. On the other hand, women who were criticized and who didn’t have a support system gained an average of 4.5 pounds throughout the eight-month study. Not only did the findings show the relationship between weight loss and support, but the relationship between weight loss and criticism is shown as well. Disapproval increases insecurities, causing discouragement and despair which can disrupt weight-loss efforts.
WebMD says that having support from a friend who’s going through the same journey can be even more beneficial. By having a partner with you along the way, you’ll have someone who can help keep you accountable and keep you motivated to reach your health and fitness goals.
2. Set realistic goals and have a plan
How many times have you set a goal but then never accomplished it? This can be very irritating, but it’s important to stop and think about your goal before getting too down about it. Was it realistic? Was it something that you could have attained in the allotted time in a healthy way? Did you actually do all that you can, or did your efforts fall short? If the answer for any of these is “no,” then all you have to do is adjust, and you can still achieve that goal.
For weight loss, it’s easy to restrict yourself to a specific time frame and give yourself a set number of weeks to lose a certain amount of weight. But one thing you may forget to do is create a realistic plan that you can follow to reach your goal. And if you do happen to make a plan, room for occasional errors is probably left out of the equation. This can make it difficult to stay motivated when slip-ups occur. Remember: If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, you want to make sure that it’s a lifestyle change. Restrictive plans that only last for a given amount of weeks won’t help you keep weight off in the long run.
The American Council on Exercise says that one effective way to lose weight is by setting SMART goals. This requires setting specific objectives that you can measure with numbers, whether it be calories or pounds. You also have to make sure your goal is actually attainable rather than being too extreme, and that it’s something that’s relevant to your life. Additionally, you have to set a realistic time frame. Once you have your intentions, then you can devise a plan that you can actually put into action to help you reach your target weight.
3. Write things down
As you set your goals, you should also write them down. One thing many extremely successful people do, according to The Huffington Post, is write things down. That’s why food journals can contribute to weight-loss success. WebMD says that one study found that people who kept track of what they ate for six months lost an average of 13 pounds. But what proves a food journal’s positive effects is that those who kept track in their journals for six days a week lost double the amount of weight as those who only kept track once a week or less.
Perhaps it’s because writing down everything you eat and drink helps you stay accountable and also helps you realize how much you’re really consuming every day. But don’t just write down what you’re putting into your body — also write about how you’re feeling. Self says that it may also be helpful to keep track of emotions so you can see if you’re eating out of boredom or anxiety, and you can monitor how certain foods make you feel.
4. Listen to your body
Diets are the worst. Whether you’ve tried one, 10, or too many to count, one thing probably remains constant for all of them: They didn’t last. That’s because diets tend to put you on a restrictive plan that’s hard to keep up with in the long run.
Instead of following a strict diet, try giving yourself the freedom to eat whatever you want. This doesn’t mean having pizza, French fries, and doughnuts every day of the week. It means choosing healthy foods most of the time, and giving your body what it craves when it tells you it wants something unhealthy. U.S. News and World Report says that this is what it means to eat normally, and that this is what’s going to stick. The Huffington Post says that eating intuitively can also be called “mindful eating.” Trust your body and feed it when it tells you it’s hungry, not just when you feel like eating. And make sure to give it wholesome, nutritious foods that offer health benefits most of the time, but feel OK about giving in to the good stuff from time to time, too.
In addition to intuitive eating, listen to your body when it needs a physical break. If you’re following an intense fitness plan, remember that it’s OK to skip a workout if your body needs a break. Shape says that if you overtrain, it can actually cause a weight-loss plateau, extreme exhaustion, and even burnout. Your body knows what it needs, when it needs it. Always pay attention to what it’s telling you.
5. Always make time to de-stress
Because of the demands of everyday life, feeling stressed is inevitable. Luckily, you can combat stress’ negative effects by making relaxation time a necessity. Yes, this means leaving your emails for Monday and taking the weekend to unwind. Technology gives you the ability to remain connected to work even when you’re not on the clock, which can take your work worries with you no matter what day of the week it is. While some careers may require being connected at all times, it’s important to give yourself at least a little bit of time each week to decompress. If not, you can expect your weight to remain high.
The Huffington Post says that stress causes hormonal changes that don’t do the body any good. These changes can prevent your body from getting rid of fat and can also lead to stress eating, and you won’t crave a salad or a juicy apple. Instead, stress can cause increased appetite for high-fat and sugary foods, per WebMD. In the end, that can cause you to pack on pounds rather than lose them. Make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to de-stress each week to clear your mind, disconnect, and prevent stress-related weight gain.