The best way to lose weight is through long-lasting lifestyle changes like eating healthy and exercising. Avoid fad diets that promise quick weight loss, as they typically don’t work in the long run and can be unhealthy for your body.
Focus on the reasons you want to lose weight, such as wanting to fit in your summer clothes or feeling healthier for your family. Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-sensitive) goals can help keep you motivated.
1. Eat Healthy
Getting the right balance of nutrients is essential for healthy eating. Learn about recommended nutrient intakes and how to read food labels. Eat small, frequent meals and snacks. Avoid sugary drinks and high-fat foods.
Choose vegetables (3 or more servings a day) and fruit (2 or more servings a day). Select whole-grain, high-fiber breads and cereals (3 to 6 servings a week). Choose low-fat dairy products and cut down on added sugars.
Add lean protein (eggs, low-fat yogurt, beans, nuts and seeds) to your diet. Choose filling fiber from fruits, vegetables and 100% whole grains. Drink 8 to 12 cups of water a day. Limit sodium and saturated fats, and avoid trans fats. Manage splurges and work in some physical activity daily. Try activities like dancing, tai chi and qigong.
2. Move More
Eating less and moving more are essential to lose weight and keep it off long term. You will also want to include strength training in your exercise routine to help build lean muscle mass and burn more calories even when at rest. It is recommended to aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week as a good starting point. It is not only great for burning calories but it also helps with blood pressure and heart disease. It is important to start small and work up to this goal, rather than trying an all or nothing approach that will more than likely fail. You can even find ways to move more throughout your daily life such as taking the stairs or parking far away in the lot when shopping.
3. Stay Motivated
Losing weight is difficult, but it is possible to get and stay motivated. There are many ways to increase motivation, such as identifying your reasons to lose weight, setting expectations and finding support.
Write down your reasons for losing weight and post them somewhere you can see them. This can help confirm your commitment and serve as a daily reminder of why you are making the effort.
Set realistic expectations and celebrate each success on your journey. For example, if you graduate from walking to jogging, reward yourself with new running shoes or fitness apparel. Also, try rewarding yourself with non-food items that have meaning to you – such as time with family or a vacation.
Find a supportive network and join groups that promote healthy living. It is easier to stick with a diet when you have people to lean on for support.
4. Keep Track of What You Eat
Whether you choose to use a calorie-counting app or keep a food journal on paper, tracking your diet can help you understand your eating habits and make sustainable changes.
When you write down what you eat, note the date, time and location of each meal and snack. Include the type of food and any extras such as sauces, toppings, or condiments (like butter or ketchup). Also, record the size of each portion.
Wait 10-20 minutes after each meal to assess how full you feel. This can help you learn to eat until you are satisfied, rather than feeling hungry. You can also track how much you spend on groceries each week or month. This can be helpful if you’re trying to save money while losing weight.