Deciding to lose weight is a super personal thing. And even though you should never feel like you have to, if you WANT to start a weight-loss journey that’s totally up to you.

Thing is, losing weight—especially a significant amount—isn’t something a pill, or tea, or shake can accomplish. Despite what supplement companies might try to sell you, it takes long-term lifestyle changes (not a pricey meal-replacement shake) to make a solid difference.

That might mean you have to incorporate more nutritionally-dense foods, make sleep a priority, manage stress in a healthy way, and maybe even throw in some extra activity. Whatever your approach, it should be something you can maintain over the long-haul.

If you want to be successful in weight loss, you have to focus on more than just how you look. An approach that taps into how you feel, your overall health, and your mental health is often the most efficient.

Because no two weight-loss journeys are alike, we asked a bunch of women who’ve accomplished a major weight loss exactly how they did it.

Gessi Parisi-Rodriguez, 25
Alexandria, Virginia

Contents

Total weight loss: 124 pounds

1. Start in your comfort zone. Parisi-Rodriguez started her fitness journey by putting one foot in front of the other. “When I weighed 252 pounds, the thought of walking into a gym and working out terrified me. So I started walking around my block instead—something I was already comfortable doing.” She worked her way up from 30-minute sessions to two-hour walks, lacing up five or six times a week.

2. Skip soda. “I was addicted to Pepsi and Dr. Pepper for years,” says Parisi-Rodriguez, who once consumed up to six cans a day. “Once I realized that soda was nothing but empty calories, I swapped my beverage of choice to water instead. It was super uncomfortable at first, but after eight years, I can honestly say I no longer crave soda like I used to.”

3. Lighten up on carbs—without ditching them. Born into a Sicilian family of chefs, pizza makers, and restaurant owners, carbs had long been a mainstay in Parisi-Rodriguez’s life. Instead of giving up carbs entirely—as if!—she reached for low-calorie or low-carb versions of staples like bread and tortillas.

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4. Cancel the whole “all-or-nothing” thing. “I used to think that if I ate healthy all day but then ‘slipped up’ by eating a chocolate cookie, that I ruined everything for that day,” Parisi-Rodriguez says. “Then I’d just start binge-eating the crap out of everything!” Reframing reframing her mindset helps her carry on without guilt or deprivation.

5. Shout your goal from the rooftops. At the onset of her weight loss journey, Parisi-Rodriguez began documenting her progress on Instagram. “It helped keep me accountable because I knew others were watching,” she says, noting that private people can still follow suit by sharing with just one other person.

Alex Wittner, 23
Sarasota, Florida

Total weight loss: 105 pounds

6. Pound that water. “I carry a 32-ounce water bottle with me at all times,” says Wittner, who fills that baby up not once, not twice, but four times a day.

7. Score fitness class freebies. As a big fan of ClassPass, Wittner also found that many local studios offer free trials or super discounted rates for newbies. “Take advantage of it! The worst thing that can happen is you did not like it and you used up an hour of your day,” she says.

8. Do not fear the weight room. Wittner credits WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and weight lifting for her results. “Lifting weights helped me tremendously with toning up and losing weight,” she says. Although she learned to pump that iron at a local gym, she bows down to YouTube and Insta where there are free tutorials galore.

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9. Eat the pizza. And the ice cream! “Deprivation will only lead you to going off the rails later on,” she says. “I not only allow myself to have these every once in a while, but make healthier homemade versions such as a pita pizza or a protein shake that tastes like ice cream.”

Shannon McDaniel-Posey, 32
Slidell, Louisiana

Total weight lost: 120 pounds in 16 months

10. Want it—for realz. “You have to have the mindset to go full throttle,” says McDaniel-Posey, who had a wakeup call about her dire state of physical and mental health after the death of her grandfather. “I ate and drank whatever I wanted and lost myself. I was done living my life the way I was.”

11. Give yourself a GD break. “One bad meal will not make you obese,” she says. “Life is too short to beat yourself up.”

12. Use Instagram. “It influenced me on so many levels,” she says. “There were people just like me sharing their progress pictures, recipes, products they loved, grocery store hauls, trials and tribulations, and just their life in general. It was uplifting! It was the motivation I was searching for.”

Tanique Johnson, 26
New Jersey

Total weight loss: 135 pounds

13. Cancel the whole “but I need a trainer!” narrative. “Excuses are easy,” says Johnson. “I never had a trainer or a nutritionist, but knowing what I wanted helped me stay consistent and changed my lifestyle for the better.”

14. Practice the world’s simplest meal math. Protein (like chicken) + veggies (just about anything green) = dinner is served. Johnson says that adding more proteins and veggies to her plate helped her cut back on the amount of calories she was eating. “It’s not about taking carbs out of your diet but recognizing that they’re not needed at every meal.”

Jessica Beniquez, 24
Tampa, Florida

Total weight lost: More than 170

15. Sparkling water + Crystal Light = soda who!? Because it’s not always easy to quit carbonated bevs cold-turkey, this cocktail can help you transition, says Beniquez. She sips this combo when she really craves a sweetened soda.

16. Get all up in nature’s candy. At night, Beniquez swaps sugary treats for fruit. Remember fruit? It’s super sweet and hits the spot.

17. Repeat after me: “Routine shmoutine.” Whenever Benique hit a weight-loss plateau, she shifted gears entirely. “I changed the way I worked out or changed my eating routine,” she says. “Then I focus on why I started and how far I’d go if I didn’t give up.”

Mayra Arias, 35
Laguna Beach, California

Total weight loss: 135 pounds

18. Cook a week’s worth of food in one go. “It’s the best way to stay on track,” Arias says. “I had no excuses to go off plan when I had my food ready to heat up.” Some of her favorites include egg roll in a bowl, chicken broccoli Alfredo bake, one-pan salmon with veggies, and chicken parmesan.

Suzanne Ryan, 35
San Francisco Bay Area, California

Total weight loss: 120 pounds

19. Build confidence with baby steps. “One small step kicked off some bigger changes and confidence in my ability to stick to something,” The first change Ryan made: swapping soda for flat or sparkling water. “Small changes can lead to big results—so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with one thing, then add on.”

20. Stay in your lane. “Do what works for you and don’t compare yourself to others,” she says. “Everyone is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.”

Shanna Fichera, 31
Camarillo, California

Total weight loss: 110 pounds

21. Start small. “I began walking or jogging for 15 minutes a day. I worked up to 30 minutes, and then increased it again. It was a very gradual process.”

22. Don’t give up when your weight loss plateaus. “I remember hitting the first plateau and feeling so defeated, but you have to push through and keep putting in the effort for your plan to work. You can’t get discouraged.”

Brianna Blank, 22
Westbrook, Connecticut

Total weight loss: 150 pounds

23. Find a healthy meal you like, and eat it all the time. “In college, I researched the food available in the dining hall to find the healthiest options and settled on a turkey sandwich with whole-wheat bread and mustard. I was so focused on achieving my goals that it didn’t even feel repetitive.”

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Maria Gordon, 31
Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Total weight loss: 104 pounds

24. Start with one small change. “I realized that a lot of sugar and calories that I consumed came from drinks, so I challenged myself to drink only water for 30 days.

25. Make your old favorites healthier. “I’ve always loved burgers and fries, so I also started making healthier versions of foods that were familiar to me, like turkey burgers with wheat bread and sweet potato fries.”

26. Prepare for heavy meals. “When I know I’m going out for dinner, where I’ll probably want to eat extra calories, I eat lighter meals throughout the day, like a smoothie for breakfast and a salad for lunch.”

Alyssa Ann Heidemann, 34
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Total weight loss: 131 pounds

27. Swap out snacks that don’t serve you. “I used to snack on chips, candy bars, and other junk food throughout the day, but now I six times a day. My new snacks include protein bars or shakes, pistachios, celery sticks with PB2 (a lower-fat peanut butter), and low-fat string cheese.”

28. Double down on veggies if you’re unsatisfied after eating a snack or meal. “If I’m still hungry, I turn to vegetables rather than junk food.”

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29. Pack snacks for late nights at work. “At my heaviest weight, my downfall was eating fast food on my way home from work at 9:30 or 10 p.m. Now I bring food and snacks to work so when I get home I’m not starving and feel more in control.”

30. Say no to free refills. “I used to drink diet and regular pop regularly. When restaurants gave me refill after refill, I would lose track of how much I drank. Now I ask for water instead of pop, which I’ve given up altogether.”

Sara Lugger, 39
Oxford, Michigan

Total weight loss: 149 pounds

31. Move during your lunch break. “During my lunch, I’ll walk on the treadmill at work or outside for 30 to 40 minutes.”

32. Stash snacks everywhere. “I carry protein bars in my purse and car. This way, I fend off hunger so I don’t overeat later.”

33. Eat more often. “I switched from three meals a day to six small meals a day.”

34. Split restaurant meals with a friend. “When I share meals, I end up eating smaller portions without being tempted by leftovers on my plate. If I don’t have a person to split a meal with, I immediately put half of the portion I’m served into a takeout box.”

Stephanie Aromando, 31
Sandyston, New Jersey

Total weight loss: ~100 pounds

35. Lift weights to lose weight. “While cardio has helped me burn fat, power-lifting has been such a huge part of my success. Lifting heavy weights with a trainer really helped me sculpt my body. After about four months of training, I was able to squat holding 360 pounds—25 more than I weighed when I began my weight-loss journey.”

36. Always move, even on rest days. “I work out six days a week and take an active rest day once a week to hike or take a yoga class.”

37. Keep it simple. “I take a minimalist approach to nutrition: My diet consists of lean protein (chicken breast, egg whites, ground turkey), complex carbs (quinoa, sweet potatoes, oatmeal), healthy fats (coconut oil, almonds, avocados), and leafy green veggies. I eat as clean as I can—locally-grown vegetables, organic when possible, and minimally-processed everything.”

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38. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. “Everything I need is in the produce section, at the meat counter, or in the dairy section. I avoid the center aisles of the grocery store unless looking for specific pantry items, like quinoa or oatmeal.”

39. Prepare food in advance. “I eat five small meals a day, but only prepare them twice a week in big batches so that everything is made and ready to go when I get hungry.”

40. Drink all the water. “I carry a gallon of water with me all day long until it’s finished. Dragging it around campus looks ridiculous, but I don’t care.”

Tanisha Shanee Williams, 33
Brooklyn, New York

Total weight loss: 140 pounds

41. Put on music when you don’t feel like going to the gym. “Being physically active has nothing to do with going to the gym, but moving your body and burning calories is what matters. When I don’t want to go, I just turn on my music and either dance or hula hoop with my niece.”

Jade Socoby, 28
Bangor, Maine

42. Find a physical activity you actually enjoy. “Cardio really bores me. Powerlifting is what changed and saved my life.”

43. Use tech and other tools to your advantage. “I started out just by cutting little things like soda out one by one so I wouldn’t burn myself out mentally and give up. I then discovered counting calories on MyFitnessPal, which was for me in my weight loss. A few years in, I lost my way a little bit and found Renaissance Periodization diet templates, which helped me rebuild a healthy relationship with food.”

44. Eat a mix of carbs and protein at every meal. “, I started tracking macros and my body started changing even more, for the better.”

Elizabeth Narins Senior fitness and health editor Elizabeth Narins is a Brooklyn, NY-based writer and a former senior editor at Cosmopolitan.com, where she wrote about fitness, health, and more.

Call it what you will: An eating plan, a lifestyle, a diet, a philosophy, but few things garner such heated debate as how to lose weight. The truth is, whether you’re on a low-carb keto program, devoted to the Paleo lifestyle, all in on the Whole 30, or remain committed to low-fat eating, these plans have more in common than you think. What’s more, follow any one of them religiously, and you’ll likely notice results.

In one recent study, Stanford University researchers put more than 600 overweight adults on either a healthy low-fat or low-carb diet. It turns out, participants had similar levels of weight loss success on each plan. Researchers looked for clues (such as insulin levels and gene patterns) to see if there are any factors that might make someone more successful on either diet, but after combing through the data, they were not able to make any connections.

What they did note is that eaters on both plans followed some really simple advice. This advice is the common thread among all healthful weight loss and dietary approaches. So if you’re looking for the best way to lose weight, focus on these three commandments of healthy eating.

1. Eat more vegetables

Considering that 9 in 10 Americans fail to meet their produce requirements, it’s pretty safe to say you need to eat more vegetables. And no matter what food philosophy you subscribe to, vegetables are a big part of the program. Vegetables have a lot going for them: They fill you up for very few calories, and they flood your body with the nutrients it needs to fight diseases, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

If you follow food trends, you might think you have to fall in love with cauliflower and kale to reap all the rewards that vegetables offer, but that isn’t the case. Be it broccoli, carrots, red peppers, cabbage, spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts or any other vegetable, the idea is to eat a variety of them and find plenty of ways to enjoy their goodness. So if you just can’t stomach steamed Brussels sprouts, try them roasted, or give sautéed brussels sprouts a try. If raw zucchini isn’t your thing, see if you like it spiralized into noodles or grilled on a grill pan.

Using a layered approach is another great way to build a good veggie habit. For example, start with a food you already enjoy — say, pasta — and layer some vegetables into your bowl. This can help you explore a new food with one you already love eating, and from there, you can try new ways to savor it. Take spinach, for instance. After trying it with pasta, you may want to fold it into an omelet or another favorite food, or explore it on its own with different cooking techniques (sautéed or steamed) or different flavor additions (garlic or golden raisins). The possibilities are limitless!

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I’ve converted countless veggie haters into veggie eaters, and upping your vegetable game can have tremendous payoffs in how you look and feel.

2. Eat less sugar

You can blame biology for your sweet tooth. We’re hardwired to have a preference for sweets, and this drive is universal and begins early on, according to research on the subject. Sugar makes food taste good, so food companies add it to everything from breads to soups to salad dressings to cereals, yogurts, and more. This adds up to way too much sugar!

On average, Americans consume more than 19 teaspoons of sugar per day — far in excess of the American Heart Association’s 6 teaspoon limit for women and 9 teaspoon limit for men. This is not doing your waistline any favors, which is why every weight-loss plan advocates eating less sugar.

There has been some confusion that a low-fat diet means you can feast on low-fat cookies and other treats, but this, again, is the food manufacturers’ influence. The true intent of low-fat dining is to eat more healthful foods that are naturally low in fat: fruits, vegetables, beans, lean proteins, and whole grains.

There is plenty of research to support a low-fat lifestyle, just as there is strong evidence that you can lose weight by cutting carbs. Different approaches work for different people, but if you want to slim down, cutting back on added sugars is consistent advice across all programs.

One more note on added sugars: Whether you call it agave, cane juice, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, date sugar, or any of the 61 names for added sugar, they all spell trouble for your health and your waistline.

3. Eat more whole foods

I’m in favor of any program that promotes whole foods over hyper-processed fare, and this is one thing the popular diet plans can agree on. Overly processed foods have been linked to weight gain, perhaps because many unhealthy packaged foods (think: potato chips, ice cream, frozen pizza, cookies, and the like) lack the fiber found in many whole foods, including vegetables. Fiber helps fill us up, and research suggests that by simply adding more fiber to your menu, you can lose weight nearly as well as a more complicated approach. Consistently choosing whole foods is one way to do this.

Newer research suggests it’s easier to overeat processed foods. Think of how long it takes to eat a fast-food sandwich compared to a plate of fish, salad, broccoli and brown rice. When researchers conducted a similar experiment, matching meals for calories, carbs, protein, fat and sugar, and allowing people to eat as much (or as little) as they liked, they found that people ate about 500 calories more per day when eating heavily processed foods — and they gained an average of two pounds during the short study period. They ate more, ate faster, and experienced some changes in their appetite-regulating hormones that can make it harder to feel full. But those same folks lost about two pounds when given the whole foods diet, suggesting that prioritizing whole foods can help you regulate your appetite and weight.

Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, seafood, chicken and so on. Food philosophies may differ around which of these foods to emphasize, but that’s okay, since the evidence shows that there isn’t a single best way to lose weight. The goal is to select an approach that feels sustainable to you. If you’d like to live without pasta, perhaps a low-carb method centered around vegetables and quality proteins, like seafood, chicken and lean beef would be a good fit. Vegans and vegetarians can lose weight by choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant proteins. Nut lovers may do well shedding pounds with a Mediterranean-style menu. Whatever diet appeals to your appetite and way of life, focusing on whole foods is something that all plans promote.

CORRECTION (Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, 10:25 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated how many Americans fail to meet their produce requirements. It’s 9 out of 10, not 1 out of 10.

MORE FROM SAMANTHA CASSETTY, RD

  • Bad nutrition advice dietitians want you to forget
  • What you need to know about going vegan
  • What is healthier: natural sugar, table sugar or artificial sweeteners?
  • The MIND diet: 11 foods to eat to keep your brain healthy

Want more tips like these? NBC News BETTER is obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A woman and her husband go on a diet together. Are they both motivated? Yes. Do they each faithfully count calories? Yes. Nevertheless, the man is more likely to shed unwanted pounds earlier in this process than his wife.

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Why? Blame it on your genes, some experts say.

“We hear this all the time, and it can be frustrating for women,” says endocrinologist Ula Abed Alwahab, MD. “But unfortunately for women, their genetic makeup can make losing weight a little more challenging.”

So what factors are at work here?

1. Metabolism blues. Women typically have more body fat and less muscle than men. And that affects basic metabolic rate, or how many calories your body burns while at rest.

“Metabolic rate is in part driven by your muscle mass, and women have less muscle and more fat naturally than men,” says dietitian and certified diabetes educator Dawn Noe, RD, LD, CDE.

2. Pregnancy effects. When a woman gets pregnant, she gains weight and more body fat. In addition, it’s often difficult for a new mother to find the time to exercise and sleep. And she’ll need both to shed those extra pounds.

However, breastfeeding does help with burning calories and weight loss at this stage of life.

3. Menopause. Women also gain weight in their abdomen during menopause due to a loss of hormones and a slower metabolism. Some women even have a name for their new pot belly — meno-pot.

4. PCOS struggles.Between 5 and 10 percent of women have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is a condition characterized by a hormonal imbalance that makes weight loss more difficult and causes menstrual irregularity.

Despite these challenges, there are plenty of ways to fight off weight gain and prevail. Here are three.

1. Include resistance and weight training.

Building muscle mass helps both women and men boost their metabolism. Having more muscle mass helps you burn off calories, even when you’re sitting or at rest.

You can maintain muscle by doing resistance training at least twice a week, for 20 to 30 minutes per session. This is especially important as you grow older. (Your metabolism naturally slows down and you lose muscle as you age.)

There are several ways to approach resistance training:

  • Use machines at a gym or at home.
  • Use free weights or resistance bands.
  • Participate in a group fitness class, such as Pilates.
  • Use your body for resistance by doing push-ups, squats and lunges.

Women are sometimes hesitant to do weight training because they are afraid they will start to look manly. But that is a misconception, as women lack the amount of testosterone that men have.

Noe encourages women to get comfortable with weights. “Women should be weight training to gain the benefits of building muscle, such as increased metabolic rate and prevention of osteoporosis,” she says.

Weight bearing exercise isn’t only healthy because it’s a workout. As it helps you grow in muscle mass, you burn more calories, which decreases insulin resistance significantly and helps prevent diabetes.

2. Find the eating pattern that works best for you.

If a middle-aged man and woman are both interested in losing weight, the amount of calories a man needs for weight loss are about 1,500 per day (depending on height/weight/level of physical activity), but the woman’s calorie needs will be much less – typically about 1,200 calories per day, Noe says.

Of course, if they are both exercising regularly, those calories may shift slightly higher. For women, maintaining your weight loss may mean eating less than men in the long term.

Noe often recommends a balanced eating plan such as the Mediterranean diet. She also tends to use lower carbohydrate and ketogenic diets, especially for women with PCOS or diabetes who may not tolerate higher carb meal plans. “Research of weight loss does not bear out one eating pattern over another,” she says, “and the eating pattern you choose needs to be individualized to your health needs and eating behaviors.”

3. Focus on the long game.

It’s important to be patient. Studies show that most weight loss plans should result in 5% to 10% weight loss within a year if you stick with it. “If you aren’t seeing results, talk with your healthcare team as you may need to try a different plan that will better fit your lifestyle,” she says.

Whether you follow a diet low in fat, low in carbohydrates or some other diet, make sure meals are balanced and nutritious. Include lean proteins, healthy fats like nuts, olive oil and avocados, limited simple carbs (no sugar, white bread, sweetened drinks) and lots of vitamins and minerals from vegetables and fruit.

Other nutrition recommendations for women over age 50 include maintaining adequate calcium and Vitamin D, either from foods or supplements.

The Women’s Fitness Seven Day Fat Loss Diet

So, you know that what you eat can transform your health for the better, but how do you get started? We’ve put together a seven-day diet to change your relationship with food and put you firmly on the smart eating path.

Our diet is designed to wean you off the bad stuff and fill you with nutritious, delicious fare instead. You can expect increased vitality and better concentration. You may shed a couple of pounds and a flatter tum is almost guaranteed. And you won’t go hungry as every day you’ll eat three meals and two snacks. Although the diet only lasts one week, you can easily follow the plan for up to a month, which could mean losing up to 8lb!

The menu is designed with both taste and health in mind, and you’ll notice meals all contain fat, carbs and protein. We’ve included more carb-rich meals during the day to keep your energy levels up. In the evening, meals are based around protein and vegetables to supercharge weight loss.

Breakfast: Oaty breakfast delight

Crush two oatcakes in 150g Greek yoghurt and top with 1tbsp mixed seeds and a handful of blueberries and raspberries.

Morning Snack: 2 plums and 2tbsp almonds

Lunch: Sweet potato pancakes

Grate 1 sweet potato and combine with 2tbsp peas and 1 finely chopped onion. Shape into patties and dip in 1 beaten egg and coat in ground flaxseed. Pan-fry and serve with salad.

Afternoon Snack: Unlimited carrot crudites with 2tbsp guacamole

Dinner: Chicken with stir-fried veggies

1 grilled chicken breast topped with 2tbsp soy sauce. Serve with mixed stir-fried vegetables of your choice.

Breakfast: Chia smoothie

Blend 250ml coconut milk with 1tbsp ground chia seeds, 1 banana, 5 strawberries and a pinch of cinnamon.

Morning Snack: Unlimited cucumber sticks with 2tbsp Greek yoghurt.

Lunch: Detox-in-a-day soup

Cook 50g broccoli, 100g kale, 100g butter beans in 300ml water. Add 1 crushed garlic clove, a pinch of cinnamon and ginger, and blend until smooth (add more water if needed). Serve with a small seeded roll.

Afternoon Snack: 2 oatcakes with 2tbsp houmous

Dinner: Salmon with Italian-style vegetables

Roast 1 yellow pepper, 4 cherry tomatoes and 3 slices aubergine and serve with 1 grilled salmon fillet.

Breakfast: Coconut and blueberry pudding

Combine 2tbsp ground flaxseeds with 100ml coconut milk, (or enough to make a thick consistency) with 2tbsp (heaped) of mixed berries, and gently crush. Place in the fridge overnight. Top with 1tsp mixed seeds and serve.

Morning Snack: 2 clementines and 2tbsp almonds

Lunch: Veggie burger and salad

Grind together 200g tinned chickpeas, 1 onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 chilli and 1tsp cumin. Shape into patties and pan-fry until golden. Serve with a side salad.

Afternoon Snack: Cup of miso soup

Dinner: Yoghurt-spiced turkey breast with greens

Marinate 1 turkey breast in 100g Greek yoghurt, ½tsp cumin and ½tsp paprika. Grill and serve with unlimited steamed mange tout, peas and spinach.

Breakfast: Eggy bread

Chop 1 onion and 1 chilli and place in a bowl with two eggs, beaten. Dip two slices of wholemeal bread in the mixture and pan-fry until golden. Serve with unlimited steamed spinach.

Morning Snack: Unlimited celery sticks with 2tbsp Greek yoghurt

Lunch: Stuffed sweet potato

Bake 1 sweet potato. Scoop out the middle and mix with 100g tinned cannellini beans, 2 chopped cherry tomatoes and 1 chopped spring onion. Put back into the sweet potato skins and serve with unlimited steamed kale.

Afternoon Snack: Cheesy tomato

Cut one large tomato in two and grill. Top with 20g feta and place back in the oven until the cheese has melted.

Dinner: Prawn stir-fry

Cook 100g prawns with 150g stir-fry vegetables. Add 1tsp soy sauce, juice of 1 lime and top with 1tsp toasted mixed seeds. Serve with 1 sliced courgette.

Breakfast: Ginger and pear spiced porridge

Chop 1 pear and add to 50g oats cooked in 100ml semi-skimmed milk. Add a pinch of ground ginger and ground cinnamon.

Morning Snack: 1 banana topped with 1tbsp almond butter.

Lunch: Dice 1 spring onion and 3 cherry tomatoes. Mash 2 small avocados and combine. Spoon the mixture into a wholemeal pita bread and serve with a side salad.

Afternoon Snack: 2 rice cakes topped with 2tbsp cottage cheese and black pepper.

Dinner: Chilli con carne

Dice 1 onion and 1 garlic clove. Pan-fry with 150g chopped tomatoes and 100g lean beef mince. Add ½tsp chilli powder, 1tsp cumin and 50g red kidney beans. Finely chop 150g cauliflower and lightly steam. Serve the chilli con carne on top of the steamed cauliflower.

Breakfast: Overnight chia oats

Combine 3tbsp of oats with 2tsp chia seeds and soak in 4tbsp semi-skimmed milk and 2tbsp Greek yoghurt overnight. In the morning add half a sliced banana, a handful of mixed berries and 1tsp almond butter.

Morning Snack: Protein smoothie

Blend 250ml almond milk with 1 scoop of protein powder, 1 banana and 3 strawberries.

Lunch: Turkey wrap

Mix 50g yoghurt with unlimited grated cucumber. Spoon on to a wholemeal wrap and add three slices of turkey and fold. Serve with a side salad.

Afternoon Snack: 2 clementines and 2tbsp cashew nuts.

Dinner: Roast cod fillet

Roast 1 cod fillet with lemon and parsley. Serve with unlimited steamed broccoli, cauliflower and kale.

Breakfast: Toast with almond butter

2 slices toasted seeded bread topped with 2tbsp almond butter.

Morning Snack: 1 pear and 2tbsp almonds.

Lunch: Baked sweet potato with cottage cheese

Top 1 baked sweet potato with 2tbsp cottage cheese and unlimited grated cucumber. Serve with unlimited steamed broccoli and spinach.

Afternoon Snack: 1 pot Greek yoghurt topped with half a grated apple.

Dinner: Superfood omelette

Sauté a handful of spinach, 2tbsp peas and 3 mushrooms in a frying pan. Beat 2 eggs and cook with the other ingredients, omelette-style. Serve with a side salad.

This article first appeared in Women’s Fitness

What I Wish I Knew Sooner About Losing Weight

Photo: /NIKITA TV

Anyone who has been through it can tell you that weight loss isn’t easy. And while it’s totally okay to *not* have weight loss as one of your fitness goals, the reality is that many people do want to shed a few pounds for a variety of reasons ranging from better health to simply wanting to feel more comfortable in their skin. (BTW, you can totally change your body without losing weight. This fitness blogger proves that weight is just a number.)

That’s why we asked members of Shape’s #MyPersonalBest Goal Crushers Facebook group who have successfully lost weight to share what they wish they had known at the beginning of their journey, along with what they would tell themselves at the start if given the opportunity.

Unsurprisingly, their responses were much less about looking a certain way or even a specific style of eating that was game-changing, and much more about nourishing their bodies, getting their heads in the game and feeling their best. Here’s what they had to say.

Calories aren’t everything.

For those just starting out on their weight-loss journey, Rachael Lenzmeier Jencks, 43, wants you to know that cutting calories blindly, without thinking about the nutritional impact of the foods you’re eating, isn’t the answer. “The one thing that I would tell myself is that skipping fruit and veggies to save calories isn’t EVER going to do the trick,” she says. “What you put in your body does matter and no amount of exercise can undo a bad diet.” (Need a little inspo? Check out the best pre- and post-workout snacks for every workout.)

Having your head in the game is just as important.

“Anyone can work out and lose weight, but if you don’t deal with the six inches between your ears, you will miss the most important part of the process,” says Janelle Spady, 35. “What brought you to where you’re at? What has caused you to struggle? Once you can get to the heart of the matter, everything else will follow suit.”

When it comes to food, less isn’t always more.

Marie Rose Yardis, 38, wishes she’d known from the start that there’s no need to go as low as possible with calories. “I worked with a trainer that told me I had to increase calories to support my workouts,” she says. “It felt impossible, but I did it and lost a good amount of weight as a result! We all see in the media that cutting calories equals a smaller body. But when you are combining your nutrition habits with tough training sessions, you can really do a disservice to your body by underfeeding it!” (More on that here: Exactly How to Cut Calories to Lose Weight Safely)

Community support makes a huge difference.

“Probably the most important lesson I’ve learned is that it’s a constant struggle, but I’ve also learned that I am not alone in the battle,” says Cara Lynn. “I’ve managed to find like-minded people who battle the same demons and who slay similar dragons. The fitness community is like no other I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m thrilled to have found it.” (Here’s more on how joining an online support group could help you meet your goals.)

Food tracking can be a game-changer.

“I’ve worked out regularly for over three years now and for the first two and a half years, my weight didn’t move,” says Tara Bird, 38. “It wasn’t until I consistently started tracking everything that I ate that I saw the scale start to go down. I figured out what my maintenance calories were and created a deficit of 300 to 400 calories. Progress has been slow, but I’ve lost 23 pounds in the last year. Ideally, I would like to lose another 15 pounds, but I’m happy with my progress. Slow and steady!”

It’s easier than you think when you’re properly motivated.

“About a year ago, I went to the doctor for my annual exam. I had just turned 30, and the number on the scale was the highest it had ever been, and my cholesterol was high,” says Lauren Zarzour, 31. “I joined Weight Watchers and ClassPass. I’m now 30 pounds lighter and have developed a better understanding of nutrition and a passion for the gym. I’ve learned how much more you value food when every day isn’t an indulgence, and how amazing it is to be strong. I wish I would have known how easy it could be, but I don’t think it would have been easy if I hadn’t had that epiphany.” (Related: How to Rekindle Your Weight-Loss Motivation)

Take things one day at a time.

“I woke up every day and made a promise to myself to make good choices for that day,” says Samantha Huyett, 41, of how she met her weight-loss goal. “I would tell myself: ‘Tomorrow I might not exercise, I might eat cake, but today will try my hardest.’ I never started anything with my diet or exercise that I couldn’t do for the rest of my life.”

Small changes make a big difference over time.

For Gretchen Schupbach, 40, the key was sustainability. “I started with a lifestyle change from eating out every day to once a week. I started walking every day. When that got easy, I would add five more minutes until I worked myself up to an hour. Then, I started lifting weights every other day. I swapped white bread and rice for whole grain. I tried to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my day, and brushed my teeth right after dinner so I wouldn’t eat after,” she says. By making these slow, steady changes, she was able to meet her goals.

You can learn to love working out.

Yup. Here’s what Josie Brady, 36, would tell herself about hitting the gym at the beginning of her journey: “It’s not a chore anymore. Your legs are going to look and feel great. Keep working on that pull-up game. This journey is going to be for the rest of your life, so if the results you want take a little longer, so be it!” (Related: How to Make Exercise a Habit You Love)

It’s never too late.

“No matter how bad off you are when you start, you can still be successful,” says Dawn Sabourin, 50. “Don’t look at how far you have to go because you will become overwhelmed and quit.” And playing the long game can help you feel more in control. “Accept where you are starting and take one step at a time in the right direction. They will build, as will your confidence and success.” (Next up: 10 Trainers Share What They Wish They Could Tell Their Younger Selves About Fitness)

When you hit 40, there are so many reasons to celebrate: You’re at the power years for your career, sex life, and confidence (don’t believe us? ask Kate Hudson, Mindy Kaling, Claire Danes, Busy Phillips, and Brandy, who all recently celebrated the big 4-0). But reaching that milestone birthday also means that some things become more of a challenge. Top of the list: losing those extra pounds that sneak in when you’re middle age. This doesn’t mean you can’t be in the best shape of your life—it just means you have to work a little harder to get there. But by adding in some additional strength-training and following a healthy diet, you can not only look your best, but lower your risk for heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

The Over-40 Challenge

The number one reason it gets harder to lost weight post-40 is that your metabolism slows down every year, making it harder to burn calories. You also tend to lose muscle mass as you age, and muscle burns calories at a faster rate than fat does.

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Plus, falling estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause (which can begin in your 40s) can cause insulin sensitivity, which makes it harder for your body to control the amount of sugar in your blood, says Caroline Cederquist, M.D., a board-certified bariatric surgeon and founder of the meal delivery service BistroMD. If your blood sugar levels constantly spike and crash, it can increase your cravings for unhealthy snacks, Dr. Cederquist says.

So it’s no wonder why so many women over 40 end up hitting a weight-loss wall. But don’t worry, you got this: Here are a few ways you can outsmart your slowing metabolism and get lean—for good.

1. Create a list of reasons you want to lose weight

Those who are most successful at losing weight after 40 do it when they have a very clear reason why they want to get leaner. Maybe you’ve been watching the scale creep up a pound or two every year and are ready to nix bad habits, or you’ve been given a wake-up call by your doctor that it’s time to get serious about how your weight is impacting your overall health. “You need to have a mental awakening that puts you in a state of readiness to change. If you’re not engaged mentally, it’s not happening,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., author of The Hunger Fix.

2. Balance your plate

Evaluating your diet is a good place to begin your journey. Limiting refined carbs and processed foods from your diet can help combat age-related insulin resistance and promote steady blood sugar levels, Dr. Cederquist says. Incorporating more protein into your diet can also help curb hunger and keep you satiated so you’re not tempted to load up on unhealthy foods. Not only does the macronutrient help stave off age-related muscle loss, but it also helps keep your metabolism revved because the body has to work harder to digest it than, say, a bagel. How much of each nutrient you consume each time you eat matters, too. In a perfect world each meal and snack should have:

  • Vegetables: Half your plate should be filled with veggies. They’re high in fiber and water, so they’ll keep you satisfied and stave off hunger without contributing too many calories to your diet. Plus, they deliver ample amounts of disease-fighting antioxidants and nutrients that’ll help you reduce risk of disease.
  • Lean protein: At each meal, your plate should have a protein serving that’s about the size of your palm. Excellent sources of lean protein include Greek yogurt, eggs, chicken, and fish. Some plant-based sources of protein are quinoa, edamame, faro, and hemp seeds.
  • Complex carbohydrates: Carbs are essential in any type of weight-loss diet—they leave you more satisfied with your meal, we all know that eliminating them from your diet isn’t sustainable long-term. Whole grains, beans, fresh fruit, and starchy veggies like sweet potatoes are all good choices.
  • Healthy fats: Healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish, are essential for a strong heart, a sharp mind, and glowing skin. But it’s important to note that these foods are also calorie-dense, so be mindful of how much you consume daily. Aim for 7 to 10 grams of fat every time you eat: That’s 1½ teaspoon of olive oil, a quarter of an avocado, or 2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds.

3. Be mindful of portion sizes

“When it comes to losing weight, what actually moves the needle is always dietary change,” says Dr. Cederquist. It doesn’t matter if all you eat is grilled chicken, brown rice, and broccoli. If you don’t cut back on your portions, you won’t lose weight. Everyone’s calorie needs are different, but in general, a woman is has typically been eating 2,000 calories per day should aim to cut back to 1,500–1,600 a day to lose weight, recommends Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D.N., nutrition expert and author of Eating in Color.

Emily Schiff-Slater

4. Consider intermittent fasting

There are different methods for practicing intermittent fasting, including the 16:8 diet, which restricts eating to an 8-hour window and fasting for a 16-hour period. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can not only be beneficial for weight loss, but it can also help you get prediabetes and diabetes under control.

5. Eat fewer calories, more frequently

Increased insulin resistance might leave you feeling hungrier. Dividing up your food into three moderately sized meals and one to two small snacks will keep your blood sugar levels steady while combatting the urge to nibble on junk, Largeman-Roth says. Piling your plate with more low-calorie, high-volume foods—like fruits and vegetables—can help fill you up, too.

6. Save sweets for a true treat

Sadly, you can’t scarf down cupcakes and chocolate shakes like you did in your 20s and expect to lose weight. But you can still enjoy your favorite foods. You just might need to save them for when you really have a hankering—and say goodbye to the treats that fall lower on your list of craveables. Instead of mindlessly dipping into that bag of chips just because it’s there, think about what would truly satisfy you. Is it chips or are you actually craving something else? If you decide the chips are worth the calories, then help yourself to a small serving, and savor every bite. (That means no mindless munching in front of the TV.)

Best Weight-Loss Foods

7. Watch your alcohol intake

Alcohol counts as a treat, too, so save it for special occasions (Friday night date night?), and try sticking to low-calorie alcoholic drinks. “You could fit two to four glasses of wine per week into a weight loss program,” Largeman-Roth says. Just make a point to stick to the five-ounce recommended serving size, since it can be easy to over-pour when you don’t pay attention. And yes, if you enjoy a glass with dinner, it means you should skip out on that piece of chocolate for dessert.

8. Do muscle-building exercises

Losing weight through diet alone isn’t possible, especially after 40, when hormones like testosterone tend to dip, and you start to lose muscle mass, says Dr. Cederquist. Adding in four to five weekly resistance training sessions can help you maintain your muscle mass and burn even more calories, Largeman-Roth says.

But one common mistake to avoid is jumping straight into an intense exercise regimen, Dr. Peeke says. “That’s the worst thing you can do because it increases your risk of injury,” she says. Brisk walking, on the other hand, helps you shed pounds and keeps you pain-free. Be sure to talk to your doctor about recommending a workout routine that works best for you. Or, hire a personal trainer who can develop a fitness program that meets your weight-loss goals.

9. Move more

Along with your strength training, make sure you’re burning off even more calories—and keeping your cardiovascular health in top shape—by doing some sort of aerobic activity at least 30 minutes a day. That can be from taking a dance class, biking, or simply getting out and walking (aim for at least 10,000 daily steps).

10. Avoid trigger foods

Being over 40 doesn’t automatically mean that you now have to cut out certain foods to get (or stay) slim—unless you know deep down that a food is truly getting in the way of your goals. “If having a square of chocolate leads to eating an entire bag of chocolate, having a square of chocolate does not work for you,” Dr. Cederquist says. That might feel tough at first. But instead of seeing it as deprivation, reframe your decision as a choice—and a positive one at that. “Acknowledge that these foods don’t work for you and the health goals that are important to you,” Dr. Cederquist says.

Lastly, keep in mind that the weight-loss strategies that work best for you could change down the road. “I find that for women over 40, myself included, it’s vital to assess what you’re doing each year,” Largeman-Roth says. If your progress starts to stall, consider switching up parts of your diet or fitness plan. “Our bodies like a challenge,” Largeman-Roth says.

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Marygrace Taylor Marygrace Taylor is a health and wellness writer for Prevention, Parade, Women’s Health, Redbook, and others.

How to naturally lose weight fast

Methods of weight loss that scientific research supports include the following:

1. Trying intermittent fasting

Share on PinterestSeveral research-backed strategies can aid weight loss, one of which is intermittent fasting (IF).

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that involves regular short-term fasts and consuming meals within a shorter time period during the day.

Several studies have indicated that short-term intermittent fasting, which is up to 24 weeks in duration, leads to weight loss in overweight individuals.

The most common intermittent fasting methods include the following:

  • Alternate day fasting (ADF): Fast every other day and eat normally on non-fasting days. The modified version involves eating just 25–30 percent of the body’s energy needs on fasting days.
  • The 5:2 Diet: Fast on 2 out of every 7 days. On fasting days eat 500–600 calories.
  • The 16/8 method: Fast for 16 hours and eat only during an 8-hour window. For most people, the 8-hour window would be around noon to 8 p.m. A study on this method found that eating during a restricted period resulted in the participants consuming fewer calories and losing weight.

It is best to adopt a healthy eating pattern on non-fasting days and to avoid over-eating.

2. Tracking your diet and exercise

If someone wants to lose weight, they should be aware of everything that they eat and drink each day. The most effective way to do this is to log every item that they consume, in either a journal or an online food tracker.

Researchers estimated in 2017 that there would be 3.7 billion health app downloads by the end of the year. Of these, apps for diet, physical activity, and weight loss were among the most popular. This is not without reason, as tracking physical activity and weight loss progress on-the-go can be an effective way of managing weight.

One study found that consistent tracking of physical activity helped with weight loss. Meanwhile, a review study found a positive correlation between weight loss and the frequency of monitoring food intake and exercise. Even a device as simple as a pedometer can be a useful weight-loss tool.

3. Eating mindfully

Mindful eating is a practice where people pay attention to how and where they eat food. This practice can enable people to enjoy the food they eat and maintain a healthy weight.

As most people lead busy lives, they often tend to eat quickly on the run, in the car, working at their desks, and watching TV. As a result, many people are barely aware of the food they are eating.

Techniques for mindful eating include:

  • Sitting down to eat, preferably at a table: Pay attention to the food and enjoy the experience.
  • Avoiding distractions while eating: Do not turn on the TV, or a laptop or phone.
  • Eating slowly: Take time to chew and savor the food. This technique helps with weight loss, as it gives a person’s brain enough time to recognize the signals that they are full, which can help to prevent over-eating.
  • Making considered food choices: Choose foods that are full of nourishing nutrients and those that will satisfy for hours rather than minutes.

4. Eating protein for breakfast

Protein can regulate appetite hormones to help people feel full. This is mostly due to a decrease in the hunger hormone ghrelin and a rise in the satiety hormones peptide YY, GLP-1, and cholecystokinin.

Research on young adults has also demonstrated that the hormonal effects of eating a high-protein breakfast can last for several hours.

Good choices for a high-protein breakfast include eggs, oats, nut and seed butters, quinoa porridge, sardines, and chia seed pudding.

5. Cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates

Share on PinterestIt can help to swap high-sugar snacks for fruits and nuts.

The Western diet is increasingly high in added sugars, and this has definite links to obesity, even when the sugar occurs in beverages rather than food.

Refined carbohydrates are heavily processed foods that no longer contain fiber and other nutrients. These include white rice, bread, and pasta.

These foods are quick to digest, and they convert to glucose rapidly.

Excess glucose enters the blood and provokes the hormone insulin, which promotes fat storage in the adipose tissue. This contributes to weight gain.

Where possible, people should swap processed and sugary foods for more healthful options. Good food swaps include:

  • whole-grain rice, bread, and pasta instead of the white versions
  • fruit, nuts, and seeds instead of high-sugar snacks
  • herb teas and fruit-infused water instead of high-sugar sodas
  • smoothies with water or milk instead of fruit juice

6. Eating plenty of fiber

Dietary fiber describes plant-based carbohydrates that it is not possible to digest in the small intestine, unlike sugar and starch. Including plenty of fiber in the diet can increase the feeling of fullness, potentially leading to weight loss.

Fiber-rich foods include:

  • whole-grain breakfast cereals, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread, oats, barley, and rye
  • fruit and vegetables
  • peas, beans, and pulses
  • nuts and seeds

7. Balancing gut bacteria

One emerging area of research is focusing on the role of bacteria in the gut on weight management.

The human gut hosts a vast number and variety of microorganisms, including around 37 trillion bacteria.

Every individual has different varieties and amounts of bacteria in their gut. Some types can increase the amount of energy that the person harvests from food, leading to fat deposition and weight gain.

Some foods can increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, including:

  • A wide variety of plants: Increasing the number of fruits, vegetables, and grains in the diet will result in an increased fiber uptake and a more diverse set of gut bacteria. People should try to ensure that vegetables and other plant-based foods comprise 75 percent of their meal.
  • Fermented foods: These enhance the function of good bacteria while inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, tempeh, and miso all contain good amounts of probiotics, which help to increase good bacteria. Researchers have studied kimchi widely, and study results suggest that it has anti-obesity effects. Similarly, studies have shown that kefir may help to promote weight loss in overweight women.
  • Prebiotic foods: These stimulate the growth and activity of some of the good bacteria that aid weight control. Prebiotic fiber occurs in many fruits and vegetables, especially chicory root, artichoke, onion, garlic, asparagus, leeks, banana, and avocado. It is also in grains, such as oats and barley.

8. Getting a good night’s sleep

Numerous studies have shown that getting less than 5–6 hours of sleep per night is associated with increased incidence of obesity. There are several reasons behind this.

Research suggests that insufficient or poor-quality sleep slows down the process in which the body converts calories to energy, called metabolism. When metabolism is less effective, the body may store unused energy as fat. In addition, poor sleep can increase the production of insulin and cortisol, which also prompt fat storage.

How long someone sleeps also affects the regulation of the appetite-controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin sends signals of fullness to the brain.

9. Managing your stress levels

Share on PinterestOutdoor activities can help with stress management.

Stress triggers the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which initially decrease the appetite as part of the body’s fight or flight response.

However, when people are under constant stress, cortisol can remain in the bloodstream for longer, which will increase their appetite and potentially lead to them eating more.

Cortisol signals the need to replenish the body’s nutritional stores from the preferred source of fuel, which is carbohydrate.

Insulin then transports the sugar from carbohydrates from the blood to the muscles and brain. If the individual does not use this sugar in fight or flight, the body will store it as fat.

Researchers found that implementing an 8-week stress-management intervention program resulted in significant reduction in the body mass index (BMI) of overweight and obese children and adolescents.

Some methods of managing stress include:

  • yoga, meditation, or tai chi
  • breathing and relaxation techniques
  • spending some time outdoors, for example walking or gardening

Losing Weight

What is healthy weight loss?

It’s natural for anyone trying to lose weight to want to lose it very quickly. But evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off. Healthy weight loss isn’t just about a “diet” or “program”. It’s about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits.

Once you’ve achieved a healthy weight, by relying on healthful eating and physical activity most days of the week (about 60—90 minutes, moderate intensity), you are more likely to be successful at keeping the weight off over the long term.

Losing weight is not easy, and it takes commitment. But if you’re ready to get started, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to help get you on the road to weight loss and better health.

Even modest weight loss can mean big benefits

The good news is that no matter what your weight loss goal is, even a modest weight loss, such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight, is likely to produce health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars.1

For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, a 5 percent weight loss equals 10 pounds, bringing your weight down to 190 pounds. While this weight may still be in the “overweight” or “obese” range, this modest weight loss can decrease your risk factors for chronic diseases related to obesity.

So even if the overall goal seems large, see it as a journey rather than just a final destination. You’ll learn new eating and physical activity habits that will help you live a healthier lifestyle. These habits may help you maintain your weight loss over time.

In addition to improving your health, maintaining a weight loss is likely to improve your life in other ways. For example, a study of participants in the National Weight Control RegistryExternal* found that those who had maintained a significant weight loss reported improvements in not only their physical health, but also their energy levels, physical mobility, general mood, and self-confidence.

Fad diets and deprivation have literally never done anyone any good.

To lose weight—and, you know, actually sustain the weight loss—you need to fuel your body with real, whole foods and enough flavor to prevent boredom, says Women’s Health nutrition advisor Keri Glassman, R.D.

Glassman suggests starting with a calorie baseline: If you’re trying to lose weight, she recommends a meal plan that contains (roughly) 1,500 calories, with 40 percent coming from whole, fiber-rich carbs, 30 percent from protein, and 30 percent from healthy fats. That balance is ideal for keeping energy levels up and helping you build lean muscle while squashing hunger and the cravings that come with it, she says.

From there, focus on the quality of your food—fill up on fresh veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats (think: grass-fed beef and avocado), and cut out as much added sugar as you can stand, says Glassman.

Then, make adjustments based on your own personal needs. If you’re always at the gym, for example, ramp up your protein portion by a few ounces and add in an extra pre- or post-workout snack, suggests Glassman.

Need an extra push to get started? I got you—Glassman came up with a simple, seven-day meal plan (a.k.a., the best diet plan for weight loss ever) that will help you de-bloat, get energized, and start your weight-loss journey the right way. Try it for a week and just try not to get hooked (you totally will).

Day 1

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on May 31, 2017 at 11:15am PDT

Breakfast

7 oz full-fat plain Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp chia seeds

1/2 grapefruit

Per serving: 276 cal, 11 g fat (6 g sat), 24 g carbs, 14 g sugar, 88 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 21 g protein

Snack

5 celery sticks
 with 2 tsps almond butter

Per serving: 63 cal, 5 g fat (1 g sat), 3 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 16 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein

Lunch

Chicken spinach salad: 2 cups raw spinach, 4 oz grilled chicken, 1/4 sliced avocado, 1 tsp olive oil

Per serving: 273 cal, 13 g fat (2 g sat), 5 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 150 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 38 g protein

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on Mar 24, 2018 at 9:55am PDT

Snack

1 6-oz almond milk latte
10 cashews

Per serving: 129 cal, 9 g fat (1 g sat), 7 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 137 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein

Dinner

Green tea-marinated cod over lentil-currant salad (get the recipe!)

Per serving: 260 cal, 4 g fat (0 g sat), 33 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 574 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 21 g protein

Day 2

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on Jul 5, 2018 at 6:00am PDT

Broccoli rabe and egg toast (get the recipe!)

Per serving: 318 cal, 12 g fat (3 g sat), 41 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 290 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 12 g protein

1 cup sugar snap peas with 1 oz goat cheese and fresh thyme, warmed in the oven for 3 minutes

Per serving: 111 cal, 6 g fat (4 g sat), 6 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 104 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 7 g protein

Lunch

Shrimp salad: 2 cups mixed baby greens, 5 cooked shrimp, 1/4 avocado, 2 sliced hearts of palm spears, 1/4 lemon juiced, 1 tsp olive oil

Per serving: 197 cal, 11 g fat (2 g sat), 15 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 319 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 14 g protein

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on Mar 16, 2017 at 8:16am PDT

1 green apple
 with 2 tsp peanut butter
 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Per serving: 161 cal, 5 g fat (1 g sat), 29 g carbs, 20 g sugar, 49 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 2 g protein

1 small sweet potato, 1 cup sautéed spinach, 1/4 lemon, juiced, 4 oz grilled chicken

Per serving: 375 cal, 4 g fat (0 g sat), 46 g carbs, 14 g sugar, 305 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 41 g protein

Day 3

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on Nov 7, 2017 at 6:45am PST

Avocado banana smoothie: 1 cup of almond milk, 1 small frozen banana, 1 Tbsp nut butter, 1/2 small avocado, 1 handful of raw spinach, 1 scoop protein powder

Per serving: 457 cal, 24 g fat (4 g sat), 36 g carbs, 14 g sugar, 280 mg sodium, 11 g fiber, 29 g protein

5 carrot sticks
 with 1 Tbsp hummus

Per serving: 64 cal, 3 g fat (1 g sat), 9 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 119 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 2 g protein

2 cups carrot kale salad topped with 1/2 cup quinoa and 1/3 cup chickpeas (get the recipe!)

Per serving: 379 cal, 13 g fat (1 g sat), 57 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 355 mg sodium, 14 g fiber, 13 g protein

12 small olives
1 oz Parmesan cheese

Per serving: 172 cal, 13 g fat (5 g sat), 3 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 664 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 11 g protein

4 oz grilled tuna steak
1 cup sautéed red cabbage

Per serving: 255 cal, 12 g fat (3 g sat), 23 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 200 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 13 g protein

Day 4

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on Jun 25, 2018 at 11:55am PDT

Breakfast

Salmon pesto tartine (get the recipe!)

Per serving: 427 cal, 19 g fat (3 g sat), 36 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 1400 mg sodium, 19 g fiber, 28 g protein

1 cup jicama slices
 with 2 Tbsp tzatziki

Per serving: 116 cal, 5 g fat (2 g sat), 15 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 115 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 3 g protein

Tuna salad: 1 cup romaine, 1 diced plum tomato, 1/2 cup artichoke hearts,
 4 oz canned tuna,
 1 tsp olive oil

Per serving: 159 cal, 6 g fat (1 g sat), 14 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 567 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 14 g protein

1 cup blueberries
10 almonds

Per serving: 154 cal, 7 g fat (0 g sat), 24 g carbs, 16 g sugar, 1 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 4 g protein

4 oz grilled pork tenderloin
2 cups bok choy sautéed with 2 tsp avocado oil

Per serving: 297 cal, 17 g fat (1 g sat), 5 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 452 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 26 g protein

Day 5

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on Mar 14, 2017 at 4:58am PDT

1/3 cup dried oatmeal, cooked in water
1 banana with 2 tsp almond butter and a dash of cinnamon

Per serving: 377 cal, 10 g fat (2 g sat), 63 g carbs, 14 g sugar, 2 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 12 g protein

1 cup cucumber slices

2 Tbsp guacamole

Per serving: 62 cal, 4 g fat (1 g sat), 6 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 4 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 2 g protein

Avocado and cucumber nori rolls (get the recipe!)

Per serving: 193 cal, 12 g fat (2 g sat), 17 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 138 mg sodium, 7 g fiber, 4 g protein

7 oz full-fat plain Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp flaxseeds


Per serving: 283 cal, 20 g fat (7 g sat), 15 g carbs, 8 g sugar, 99 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 10 g protein

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on Apr 12, 2017 at 1:08pm PDT

4 oz salmon baked with 1/4 lemon juiced, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, and 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 cups sautéed spinach

Per serving: 317 cal, 18 g fat (3 g sat), 12 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 500 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 28 g protein

Day 6

Oatmeal pancakes: 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, 1 pinch of ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese (get the full recipe).

Per serving: 414 cal, 10 g fat (4 g sat), 35 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 550 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 34 g protein

5 celery sticks with 2 tsp peanut butter

Per serving: 63 cal, 5 g fat (1 g sat), 3 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 47 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein

Green salad with shitake bacon: 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 pinch black pepper and sea salt, 6-8 large shiitake mushrooms, 2 cups torn butter lettuce, 1 Tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/2 small clove garlic, 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar (see the full recipe).

Per serving: 436 cal, 24 g fat (4 g sat), 47 g carbs, 9 g sugar, 43 mg sodium, 11 g fiber, 13 g protein

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on Feb 17, 2018 at 12:38pm PST

1/2 grapefruit
10 walnuts

Per serving: 230 cal, 20 g fat (2 g sat), 12 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 1 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein

Quinoa stuffed pepper (get the recipe!)

Per serving: 302 cal, 16 g fat (3 g sat), 30 g carbs, 10 g sugar, 208 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 12 g protein

Day 7

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A post shared by NUTRITIOUS LIFE (@nutritiouslifeofficial) on Apr 28, 2018 at 9:50am PDT

Scrambled eggs (1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites) and 1/2 tsp oregano
1/3 cup cooked quinoa

Per serving: 239 cal, 6 g fat (2 g sat), 16 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 406 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 16 g protein

1 sliced red bell pepper
2 Tbsps guacamole

Per serving: 93 cal, 5 g fat (1 g sat), 12 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 145 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 3 g protein

Kale chicken salad:
1 cup kale with 1/4 lemon, juiced, 1 tsp olive oil, 4 oz grilled chicken, 2 Tbsps pomegranate seeds

Per serving: 255 cal, 9 g fat (1 g sat), 11 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 126 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 38 g protein

5 cups air-popped popcorn


Per serving: 150 cal,0 g fat (0 g sat), 25 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 16 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 5 g protein

Three-bean chili (get the recipe!)

Per serving: 362 cal, 10 g fat (3 g sat), 37 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 515 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 27 g protein

For more nutrition advice and recipes from Keri Glassman, visit nutritiouslife.com.

Colleen de Bellefonds Colleen de Bellefonds is an American freelance journalist living in Paris, France, with her husband and dog, Mochi.

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