Slimming down is no cakewalk. For starters, unless you’re on some crazy, cake-based diet (in which case, sign me up), your eating plan probably doesn’t involve a lot of cake. Eating better takes a lot of self-control and some serious determination, but it doesn’t have to be torturous. There are several small things you can do that make dieting just a bit easier. With the help of these tricks and a little self control, it won’t be long before your jeans start feeling baggy or the number on the scale begins to drop. As every dieter knows, no amount of cake can compare with the high that comes with looking and feeling your best.
1. Drink water
Very few people use the power of this calorie free, readily available resource. Water cleanses your body of waste and boosts your metabolism. When you’re in the midst of a diet, drinking water before every meal will make you feel fuller and, therefore, reduce your food intake. One study found drinking water before a meal resulted in an average reduction of 75 calories. This may not seem like much, but if you consciously drank water before one meal a day you would eat about 27,000 fewer calories a year, which amounts to a weight loss of around eight pounds.
2. Think short term
It can be tempting to make it your goal to lose 10, 20, 50, or even 100 pounds in time for your high school reunion, but long-term goals like these may feel so distant that you’ll have trouble being motivated to lose the first couple of pounds. Instead, create a mini goal of losing 5% to 10% of your body weight. Keep building short-term milestones to keep you focused on your progress rather than allowing yourself to become fixated on how far you still have to go.
3. Start a food journal
When you make it a point to write down everything you eat, that extra snack or additional serving of ice cream will be more difficult to write off. Start a diet notebook or download a free app like Lose It! to track your meals, snacks, and exercise.
For the first week, try to eat normally and notice the times of day you tend to overeat or the situations that lead you to indulge. The second week, continue writing in your food journal, while attempting to clean up your eating habits. Studies have found people who keep food diaries tend to eat about 15% less food than those who don’t. Great ways to cut back include minimizing use of condiments and dressings, swapping out soda for water, and cutting back on snacking.
4. Use photos
If you’re a visual person, you may gain a bit of added incentive by using photos to remind yourself of where you’ve been or where you’re headed. Before you start your diet, strip down and take a before photo of yourself. As you progress in your weight loss journey, pull out the picture whenever you need a little motivation. If you’ve recently gained weight, use a photo of yourself when you were in better shape to remind you why saying no to donuts is worth it.
5. Take time to prep food
When you get home from work and you’re starving, are you really going to chop up a cucumber and open some hummus or are you going to reach for that half empty bag of chips? If you don’t make eating healthy easier than the alternative (think keeping cut veggies at the ready), you’re never going to make good food choices. Spend an hour every Sunday preparing fruits and veggies for the week ahead. Wash and slice fruits and veggies so they’re easy to grab and snack on whenever hunger strikes.
6. Eat at home more often
It’s going to be impossible to eat every meal at home, but you should aim to cook in about 90% of the time. When you’re cooking and serving yourself, you can control the ingredients and the amount of food you dish on your plate. Restaurants serve overly large portions and since people tend to eat what’s in front of them, it’s likely you’ll eat the entire hamburger, even if you claimed you weren’t that hungry when you ordered it.