There is no one-size-fits-all solution to healthy weight loss. However, a long-term approach to food, exercise and accountability can help you achieve lasting health benefits.
A good place to start is understanding your current energy in (diet) and energy out (movement). Focusing on reducing unnecessary calories and creating lasting lifestyle changes can help you lose weight.
Set Realistic Goals
The best way to lose weight is by making lifestyle changes that are founded on healthy calorie-controlled diets and increased physical activity. These changes can help you achieve your ideal body weight.
Having realistic goals is essential for staying motivated and focused on your fitness journey. To get started, consult with a dietician or general physician to understand how to set attainable and realistic weight loss goals for you.
Generally, a safe goal is to aim for 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week. This can be achieved by burning 500 to 1,000 calories less than you consume each day through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity.
Make sure that your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound). You can also track your progress by writing down all the reasons you want to lose weight in a journal or posting them where they serve as daily reminders. It is also important to reassess your goals 3-6 months after behavioral changes to ensure that you are on the right track.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to lose weight and keep it off. It includes a variety of nutritious foods and drinks, and eating at a regular time each day.
A healthy diet is low in salt, added sugars, and unhealthy fats. It focuses on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It also contains protein from lean meats, fish, and other sources.
Start each meal with a filling and nutrient-dense food, such as whole-wheat cereal with berries or muesli, eggs, fruit smoothie, grilled chicken on salad greens, or a bowl of oatmeal with strawberries and walnuts.
Eat smaller portions, especially when you eat out. Store high-calorie foods out of sight to help prevent temptation. Don’t think of certain foods as “off-limits,” but eat them less often, such as once per week or month. This way, you won’t feel deprived and can gradually change your habits. Make mindful eating a habit by sitting down to eat, avoiding distractions, and chewing your food well.
Exercise burns calories, boosts metabolism and supports healthy weight loss. But a lack of time can be a major hurdle to a regular workout regime. You don’t have to devote hours at the gym or sweat buckets to see results — simply 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week is enough. That can be broken down into two or three 10-minute sessions if that fits your schedule better.
Identify the types of exercises you enjoy, and it will be easier to stick with your exercise regimen. If walking or running bore you, try jogging in the park and listening to music that pumps you up, or take a water aerobics class or Zumba workout.
Find ways to make your routine easier, such as leaving a packed workout bag in your car so you don’t forget, or parking a little further from work to walk more. Keep in mind that it takes weeks and sometimes months to build a habit, so don’t give up on your workout plan if you miss some days.
The best way to stay motivated when trying to lose weight can vary from person to person, but a few of the most important elements include having clear goals, finding an accountability partner, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Getting expert guidance from a dietitian or nutritionist is also helpful for staying on track with your meal plan and learning what foods are most beneficial to your health.
Intrinsic motivation, which involves doing something for the joy of it, is a powerful motivator as well. Some people find that working out gives them more energy, improves their mood or makes them feel good about themselves, and this can help them stick with healthy habits for the long-haul.
It is also helpful to celebrate small victories, especially when they involve meeting a goal. This can include rewarding yourself with a non-food treat like a new outfit or getting a manicure, or scheduling time away from the house or office for a day of rest or relaxation.