There are plenty of strategies for weight loss and some of them work better than others. There are a few basic strategies that can really help with your weight loss goal. In this article I have some of the best strategies that will help you lose weight fast and simple.
Strategies for success
Follow these proven strategies to reduce your weight and boost your health.By Mayo Clinic Staff
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 increased physical activity. For successful, long-term weight loss, you must make permanent changes in your lifestyle and health habits.
How do you make those permanent changes? Consider following these six strategies for weight-loss success.
1. Make sure you’re ready
Long-term weight loss takes time and effort — and a long-term commitment. While you don’t want to put off weight loss indefinitely, you should make sure you’re ready to make permanent changes to eating and activity habits. Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine your readiness:
- Am I motivated to lose weight?
- Am I too distracted by other pressures?
- Do I use food as a means to cope with stress?
- Am I ready to learn or use other strategies to cope with stress?
- Do I need other support — either from friends or professionals — to manage stress?
- Am I willing to change eating habits?
- Am I willing to change activity habits?
- Do I have the time to spend on making these changes?
Talk to your doctor if you need help addressing stressors or emotions that seem like obstacles to your readiness. When you’re ready, you’ll find it easier to set goals, stay committed and change habits.
2. Find your inner motivation
No one else can make you lose weight. You must undertake diet and exercise changes to please yourself. 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 you stay motivated and focused, whether it’s an upcoming vacation or better overall health. Then find a way to make sure that you can call on your motivational factors during moments of temptation. You might want to post an encouraging note to yourself on the pantry door or refrigerator, for instance.
While you have to take responsibility for your own behavior for successful weight loss, it helps to have support — of the right kind. Pick people to support you who will encourage you in positive ways, without shame, embarrassment or sabotage.
Ideally, find people who will listen to your concerns and feelings, spend time exercising with you or creating healthy menus, and share the priority you’ve placed on developing a healthier lifestyle. Your support group can also offer accountability, which can be a strong motivation for sticking to your weight-loss goals.
If you prefer to keep your weight-loss plans private, be accountable to yourself by having regular weigh-ins, recording your diet and exercise progress in a journal, or tracking your progress using digital tools.
3. Set realistic goals
It may seem obvious to set realistic weight-loss goals. But do you really know what’s realistic? Over the long term, it’s smart to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. 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 physical activity.
Depending on your weight, 5% of your current weight may be a realistic goal, at least for an initial goal. If you weigh 180 pounds (82 kilograms), that’s 9 pounds (4 kilograms). Even this level of weight loss can help lower your risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
When you’re setting goals, think about both process and outcome goals. “Walk every day for 30 minutes” is an example of a process goal. “Lose 10 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 habits is a key to weight loss.
4. Enjoy healthier foods
Adopting a new eating style that promotes weight loss must include lowering your total calorie intake. But decreasing calories need not mean giving up taste, satisfaction or even ease of meal preparation.
One way you can lower your calorie intake is by eating more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without giving up taste or nutrition.
Get your weight loss started with these tips:
- Eat at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits daily.
- Replace refined grains with whole grains.
- Use modest amounts of healthy fats, such as olive oil, vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, nut butters and nut oils.
- Cut back on sugar as much as possible, except the natural sugar in fruit.
- Choose low-fat dairy products and lean meat and poultry in limited amounts.
Surprising Weight-Loss Strategies that Work (Hint: Diets Don’t)
Fast-track weight loss won’t last (image courtesy of Alan Cleaver)
Nope, sorry to disappoint, but diets don’t work. None of them. Really. I’m not even going to waste time proving it; just google recent studies on diet success and let’s get on with it. If you, like most of America, added 5 pounds or an inch or two to your waistline over the past two months, it’s easier than you think to re-set your metabolism. And if your number 1 new year’s resolution is to get svelte before you hit the beach for spring break, persist in these strategies and you can take off 10, 20, even 50 pounds. Here’s what really works to lose weight:
- Set up a strength training system
The more muscle mass you have, the more effectively your metabolism burns calories. A common misconception, though, is to mix up muscle-building with aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is great for burning calories, but what you really need to do to reset your metabolism is engage strength training. My secret to success: I hate the gym, so I don’t bother with it. Instead, I keep a basket of kettle bells, hand weights, stretch bands, and other supplies next to my TV and get them out while I indulge in my favorite guilty pleasures. Work on building up triceps, biceps, abs, deltoids, and glutes, and you’ll have some key allies in burning away fat.
- Trick your metabolism with fat-fighting foods
The reason diets don’t work is that it’s not about counting calories, or cutting carbs, or pounding protein, but which foods you focus on. There are plenty of fat-burning foods you can eat all you want of, and you don’t have to carry around carrot sticks. Instead, boost your intake of foods that fight fat and banish those that trigger your body to store it. Then eat other foods in moderation, and you should be OK.
- Get at least eight hours of shut-eye a night and solve sleep problems
There’s one piece of advice every weight loss guru now agrees on: getting plenty of sleep is one of the biggest secrets to losing weight and keeping it off. (Try these effective sleep-boosting strategies if insomnia is responsible for your lack of sleep.) Research now shows that the body is most metabolically active during sleep, so the longer we sleep, the more we rev up our fat-burning engines. Lack of sleep also plays havoc with two key metabolic hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control hunger and satiety. Deprive yourself of sleep, and ghrelin levels increase while leptin levels decrease. The result: more craving, less feeling full. Even worse, when you’re weary you crave “energy” foods, which usually means chips, sweets, baked goods, or soda. Put the two together and you can see how the typical type-A lifestyle gradually puts on the pounds.
Weight Management Strategies for Success
If you’ve tried a diet and “failed,” consider yourself successful. DIETS DON’T WORK! Drastically cutting calories, eliminating entire food groups or depriving yourself of foods you actually like are not strategies for long-term success. The good news is that you can permanently change destructive eating habits and break the “diet mentality” for good. Below are strategies to help you approach weight management with a more positive and productive mindset.
Focus Beyond the Scale
Rather than setting your sites on a particular number of the scale, measure success in more meaningful ways. For example, aim to lose a clothing size or measure your losses in inches around your hips, waist, thighs, and arms. If you are focused on using the scale, aim for no more than 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week. Losing even 5-10% of your total body weight can have a beneficial impact on reducing the risk for developing many chronic diseases and can provide a sense of motivation.
Simply put, calories count. The bottom line: to lose weight you have to use up more calories than you take in. Since a pound is about 3,500 calories, you need to reduce your intake by 500-1,000 calories a day to lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week (don’t go lower than 1,200 calories a day though!).
Track your intake
Studies show that writing down what you eat is an effective method for weight loss. It raises awareness and forces you to think about what and how much you’re eating. Every bite or sip counts! Tracking is also an effective tool for evaluating your eating habits and patterns. MyFitnessPal, Lose It, and Sparkpeople are top-ranked web-based and phone apps to help you track your daily intake and activity level. The Healthy Eating Planner is a tool to help you assess your current eating habits, set goals and create a meal plan.
Stay a Day Ahead of Your Meals
Busy, over-packed schedules can send you straight to the drive thru if you don’t have a plan. Make use of your downtime to develop a basic menu for the upcoming week, go food shopping, and batch cook. Keep healthful foods on hand so you can toss together a wholesome meal in no time.
Here are some helpful resources for meal planning:
The Food Personality Quiz
Weekly Meal Planner
Avoid “Bottom Heavy” Diets
Distribute your calories throughout the day rather than eating most of them after the sun goes down. This helps to keep your metabolism fired up, prevents drastic swings in blood sugar and helps with portion control throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to eat every 3-4 hours. Think “mini-meals” rather than a light breakfast, quick lunch and oversized dinner.
Science-Backed Weight-Loss Strategies
Losing weight takes hard work and dedication, which is why it’s important to create healthy habits that stick as part of a bigger picture lifestyle. Learning to make the process easier with research-backed tips helps you set the stage for long-term success.
As you go, keep in mind what works for someone else might not work for you, which is where being open to switching things up is essential.
Here, a roundup of 75 research-backed strategies to try on your health journey, from shifting your mindset to priming your environment for weight-loss success:
GET THE RIGHT MINDSET FOR WEIGHT LOSS
START WITH A REALISTIC GOAL
It’s easy to get inspired and set a not-so-realistic weight-loss goal (like losing 20+ pounds in one month). But when you don’t magically reach your goal, it can be a real motivational drain. The fix: Opt for slow and steady weight loss of 1–2 pounds per week or 4–8 pounds per month (or about 5–10% of your body weight).
VISUALIZE YOUR IDEAL OUTCOME
Mental imagery (like picturing your dream “after” picture) boosts positive feelings more than other types of thought (like comparing yourself to other people), and in turn, might give you a leg up on your weight-loss journey. What to do: Visualize the “why” behind your desire to lose weight, like having the stamina to keep up with your kids. Then, use these empowering visualizations to push through difficult workouts and give yourself a motivational boost when you feel tempted to give up on your eating plan.
CHOOSE TO BE POSITIVE
Research shows negativity makes it harder to make healthy choices, while a positive mindset can help keep you on track. Instead of getting down on yourself (or worse, punishing yourself) when you overindulge, focus on what you’ve been doing well (“I’ve been learning more about how to make healthy eating choices.”) and how you can make a better choice in the future (“I’ll deal with what’s causing my stress in a non-food way — instead of overeating.”)
FIND WAYS TO DE-STRESS
It’s not just in your head: Stress can tweak your hunger hormones, drive cravings for comfort foods and disrupt your sleep — all of which make weight-loss harder. For this reason, make sure you have a long list of ways to reduce stress before you get started on your weight-loss journey, even if it’s as simple as a cool-off walk around the block.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU’RE ADDING TO — NOT TAKING FROM — YOUR LIFE
When you start eating less of your favorite not-so-healthy foods, it’s easy to feel deprived and, as a result, end up binge-eating later. Instead of thinking about the foods you’re eating in moderation (i.e., chips, cookies), focus on eating more of the healthy foods you enjoy. Give it some time, and you might find healthy-ish desserts like strawberry parfaits are crave-worthy, too.
BOUNCE BACK FROM SETBACKS
Whether you miss a few workouts or exceed your calorie limit, setbacks are to be expected on your weight-loss journey. Here, it’s important to stay focused and remind yourself consistency beats perfection for long-term success. Rather than getting down on yourself and veering farther off course, reflect on what went “wrong” and how you can make a healthier choice next time. Staying positive (instead of sinking into food guilt) can help keep you on track.
FIND WAYS TO ENJOY THE JOURNEY
It’s no surprise research shows you’re more likely to work toward a goal long-term if you actually enjoy the process. Make your weight-loss journey fun (or at least tolerable) with delicious and healthy recipes and a hobby that gets you moving, like walking, running or yoga.
GET SPECIFIC WITH YOUR HEALTHY HABITS
SET SMART GOALS
Research shows vague, lofty goals (like “lose weight”) are harder to work toward when they’re not paired with a ground-level plan to get there. To bring your weight-loss goals down to earth, set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. For example, do you have a wedding or reunion coming up in six months? That makes for a great deadline to lose 10 pounds.
Small, sustainable changes are key for transforming your lifestyle in order to lose weight and keep it off. What to do: Break your big-picture SMART goal into mini-SMART goals, like eating leafy greens with lunch five times a week or boosting your step count by 2,000 steps in two weeks with morning or evening walks.
…BUT TACKLE THEM ONE AT A TIME
When it comes to sustainable lifestyle changes, less is often more. Concentrate on making one small change at a time. For example, to stay hydrated throughout the day (and avoid mistaking thirst for hunger), aim to make drinking 2 cups of water first thing in the morning a habit for one week. Then, stack another healthy habit the following week.
MAKE TIME FOR MEDITATION
The health benefits of meditation are well-established, and they can help you lose weight as you become more mindful of how your emotions affect your eating habits. If you’re trying to quit emotional eating, guided meditation can help.
BRUSH YOUR TEETH IMMEDIATELY AFTER DINNER
Instead of winding down with a snack in front of the TV, brush (and floss) your pearly whites right after you finish dinner. This simple change can help you cut down on calories and prevent mindless snacking at bedtime.
Not getting enough sleep can really put a dent in your weight-loss efforts, as hormone shifts cause a surge in hunger and cravings. The fix: Set a regular bedtime to ensure you get 7–8 hours of quality shut-eye and keep your metabolism humming.
PRIME YOUR ENVIRONMENT FOR WEIGHT LOSS
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH MOTIVATION
Keep your motivation up with personal mantras like, “You’ve got this!” “Yes, I can!” and “Every day, I’m getting stronger.” Tape up inspirational posters and images (like a photo of your children) and place motivation-boosting sticky notes with quotes and reminders on your fridge and desk.