Surprisingly simple tips from 20 experts about how to lose weight and keep it off

“The biggest pitfall is trying to lose too much weight too fast,” said Canada’s Dr. Sharma.

Harvard’s Dr. Gillman took a commonsense approach: “People have gained weight over a period of years. They are not going to turn it around overnight. If you try to do that, you’re more likely to regain.”

Dr. Freedhoff said he sees people “under-eat, over-exercise, or both at the beginning of weight loss. It’s seductive to see the scale go down.” But they inevitably fail at maintaining an impossible and unrealistic regimen. “Trying to be too perfect is a huge problem for people in diet world,” he added.

“You don’t need to be a saint; you need to be a smart sinner,” said Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center.

Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietician at the Mayo Clinic, also said unreasonable expectations — and the self-berating that often ensues — just makes weight loss even more difficult. “When people try and fail, their confidence is so low, and they just lose the confidence to believe they can really sustain even a more reasonable change, or they don’t think the reasonable change is going to do much.”

Again, these insights should be liberating: change a little at a time, and think long term. Patience, these doctors promised, will pay off.

5) People who lose weight know how many calories they’re consuming — and burning

Another weight loss pitfall people make has to do with the lies we tell ourselves about how much we’re eating and burning off.

Studies have found that people very often underestimate how many calories they eat and overestimate how many they use up during exercise. This is easy to do even when you’re keeping a food diary.

We play other tricks on ourselves, too: healthy foods sometimes have a “halo effect” and when added to a meal (i.e. cheeseburger with a side of salad) cause people to believe that the overall calorie content of the meal somehow, magically, decreases.

“The halo effect” Journal of Consumer Psychology

This study found people vastly misjudge the sugar content of fruit juices, believing they are healthy. Dr. Frank Sacks, who has conducted several pivotal studies on diet at the Harvard School of Public Health, said he’s seen people make these misjudgments when trying to lose weight time and again. He had a friend who complained about his recent weight gain, and when Dr. Sacks asked him about what he was eating, the friend admitted to drinking the equivalent of 1,000 calories worth of orange juice every day. “That was the biggest single source of calories in his diet,” said Sacks.

To get a sense of what you’re truly eating, measure your food for a period, suggested Dr. Freedhoff. Use scales and measuring cups in your kitchen. At restaurants, use your hand to help you estimate portion sizes. You won’t always need to do this. But you’ll quickly learn how much you’re actually consuming. And it’ll help you to make sure you’re not wasting your time with that food diary and delaying the results of your efforts.

6) There are ways to hack your environment for health

The weight loss experts all described to me how they trick themselves and engineer their environments so that maintaining a healthy weight is easier.

As Dr. Sacks said, “In the home, I’ve gotten rid of stuff that I’m likely to overeat. I don’t have boxes of cookies on the dining room table that I can just eat. I don’t have that stuff around.”

Echoing Dr. Sharma’s earlier advice, Dr. Freedhoff believes in hunger prevention: he often pre-eats before a meal — usually a small serving of protein, because it’s more satiating than carbohydrates — to avoid over-indulging later. He also tries to stay away from alcohol before starting a meal, since there’s good evidence that alcohol stimulates appetite and leads to overeating.

Another good idea: Hacking your environment so that healthier choices are easier to make. We might not have control over the temptations we’re exposed to outside the home (the cakes and muffins on display as we line up for our coffee in the morning; the giant portion sizes at our favorite lunch spot), but making subtle changes to our surroundings — keeping cookies out of sight, serving ourselves off the stove instead of the dinner table — can nudge us in a healthier direction.

7) Exercise is surprisingly unhelpful for weight loss

This review of studies on exercise and weight found that people only lost a small fraction of the weight they expected to given how much they were burning off through their new exercise routines. Some overweight people even gain weight when they start exercising.

This is partly due to the fact that people develop “compensatory behaviors” when they exercise, thinking they can have those extra treats because of all the work they did, said Tim Caulfield, author of the Cure for Everything. “They go for a run, and then eat a high-calorie muffin, and completely neutralize that run. You’re not going to lose weight.”

This isn’t to say that exercise isn’t hugely beneficial for health: it raises mood, protects against disease, boosts energy, and improves sleep quality, just to name a few well-documented benefits.

Physical activity also seems to be very important for weight maintenance. In one study, which looked at 20-year weight gain in over 3,500 men and women, those who were physically active gained less weight over time and had smaller waist circumferences compared to inactive people.

But exercise alone isn’t going to lead to a great slim down. When a bunch of studies on the question of weight loss and exercise were taken together, researchers found that, overall, exercise led to only modest weight loss. When compared with no treatment, exercise helped people lose a small amount of weight, and when people started to exercise and cut their calories, they lost more weight than with a diet alone. Again, the health benefits of exercise came through in this study: even when exercise was the only intervention for weight loss (so no diet) study participants saw a range of health benefits, reducing their blood pressure and triglycerides in their blood.

The take-home message here: science has shown us that slimming down by exercising alone doesn’t work for most people. Physical activity is more important for weight maintenance than for weight loss. What matters most for weight loss is controlling calorie intake.

8) Weight loss medications aren’t very useful. Neither are “metabolism boosting” supplements.

Overall, the obesity doctors said they were unimpressed by the prescription weight-loss medications that are currently on the market, though some think they might have a role to play in some cases of obesity, particularly when used to complement other lifestyle changes.

Dr. Collazo-Clavell, at the Mayo Clinic, reviewed the literature on diet drugs, and said, “There have been a couple of recent studies, where the people who tend to do best with prescription medical therapies for weight loss are the group initially focusing on lifestyle changes, and lose weight, and then go on to a medication to help.” She added: “I do believe these medications have a role but I’d strongly discourage saying they’re the quick and easy fix.”

Other doctors were less hopeful. “I’m not using any of these in my practice because the results and/or side effects haven’t impressed me,” said Dr. Donald Hensrud, who co-chaired the American Heart Association’s obesity guidelines. “There’s just not a lot of benefit and too many risks.”

Dr. Sharma said the medications might be helpful for people who are suffering with other health problems as a result of excess weight, and that interested patients should discuss the harms and benefits with their doctors.

As for supplements that claim to “boost your metabolism” for weight loss, you can just ignore these outright. Nothing you eat can speed up your metabolism to the point of slimming down. What’s more, obese people don’t necessarily have slower metabolic rates than thin people, so that whole notion is bunk.

“We’ve measured the resting metabolism in lots of skinny people and in lots of people with serious weight problems, and everything in between,” said Dr. Michael Jensen, an expert on metabolism at the Mayo Clinic. “Whether you’re above or below average, skinny or obese, as a rule you cannot say obese people have lower metabolism rates than lean people. That’s just not true.”

“We do know obese people tend to be up and about about two to two-and-a-half hours a day less than lean people,” Dr. Jensen said. “My take is the amount of physical activity we do and the amount of calories we take in is far more important than what we do at rest.”

Even though you can’t control the speed of your metabolism, you can control how many calories you eat and what you burn through physical activity. When people ask Dr. Jensen how to boost their metabolisms, he tells them “go for a walk.” That’s something supplements like green coffee beans or raspberry ketones just won’t do. And it’s free.

9) Forget about “the last 10 pounds”

People who lose weight but don’t quite make it to their goal often complain about “the last 10 pounds.” Surprisingly, the obesity doctors I spoke to said you should just forget about them if they are that hard to take off.

“If the last 10 pounds are more difficult to lose than the rest, that suggests to me they will be regained,” warned Dr. Freedhoff. “If you need to try harder to lose that weight … the pounds will just come back.”

Dr. Cheskin put it even more simply: “It’s not worth it for the last 10 pounds. You’ve gotten almost all of the health benefits and probably most of the social benefits of losing weight if you’ve got two-thirds of where you’d like to be.”

He said even losing five percent of your body weight is great for your health. “People should be very pleased with getting partway there.”

Jackie Warner’s This is Why You’re Fat

BACKGROUND Start the Diet Now Advertisement

Jackie Warner’s This is Why You’re Fat (And How to Get Thin Forever) is a book by America’s favorite no-nonsense celebrity fitness trainer whose mantra is “Being fat isn’t your fault; staying fat is.”

Now for the first time, Jackie shares her revolutionary program, showing readers the best ways to drop pounds and inches fast, without grueling workouts or deprivation, and keep them off for good!

Her two-tiered approach provides a complete nutritional makeover and a failure-proof condensed workout routine in addition to all the emotional support and encouragement you need to get to the finish line and beyond.

With Jackie’s core principles, you’ll discover once and for all which behaviors are making you fat, and which can finally make you thin forever – and some may surprise you.

Some of these core principles include behaviors like:

  • Cheating is allowed
  • Less exercise is more, as long as you’re doing the right kind of exercise
  • Sugar, not fat, is the enemy

Be prepared to work hard and realistic about your finally achieving your weight loss goals.

Warner is also the creator of Work Out with Jackie Warner.

Do You Know the Best Diets of 2020?

PRO

  • Created by a well-recognized fitness trainer
  • Plan is time-friendly, efficient, realistic and healthy
  • Core principles can be carried over to maintain weight loss
  • Encourages indulging in your favorite foods
  • Dispels myth that fat makes you fat

CON

  • Targeted more towards females than males
  • Cheat meals may lead to overdoing it and weight gain

DIET and NUTRITION

The first two weeks of the food plan are considered a “non-diet.” Warner believes that when you add fat-burning and detoxifying foods (water with lemon, for example) into your daily calories, you rapidly change your body chemistry to satisfy physical and emotional hungers.

Here are key diet and nutrition principles from the book:

  1. If you cheat on a day that you are supposed to be eating clean, don’t get disheartened and throw away the rest of the day or week with bad eating. Get right back into the program.
  2. Don’t use workouts as an excuse to be gluttonous and eat junk. Always want to be at a calorie deficit to lose weight.
  3. Master portion control. Learn what a serving size is and how many portions you can eat and still lose weight.
  4. Never skip a meal! Always eat five meals a day and two snacks.
  5. You have to eat within an hour of working out to make sure you’re not eating into the muscle for energy. Make sure that you combine proteins and carbs like a blended protein shake with fruit and peanut butter or a piece of fruit with a low-fat string cheese.
  6. Instead of focusing on being fat, you’ve got to focus on being fit. If you think healthy, it eventually becomes reality to you.

EXERCISE

Exercise is an integral part of the Jackie Warner’s This is Why You’re Fat two-week program.

Here are the main principles to follow:

  1. It’s not how long your workout, it’s how strong. Incorporate 20 minutes of high intensity cardio each day. Walk fast on a treadmill for 2 minutes at a 15 incline then sprint for 2 minutes on flat ramp. Cool down for 1 minute and repeat this cycle 3 more times until you reach your 20 minute goal.
  2. Women must make sure to include weight training at least three to four days a week. If you add three to five pounds of muscle to your body, you will burn 250-500 extra calories per day which equals three to five pounds of fat loss per week.
  3. Visualize the muscles you are working on–this is called the mind muscle connection and it will actually increase tone.
  4. Your body hits a plateau with cardio and resistance training in one month so change your weight, reps and exercises accordingly.
  5. The fastest way to get the body you want is through Jackie’s power circuit training. Combine three upper body exercises and three lower body exercises together to make one big set. Do not rest in between and alternate quickly from upper to lower for maximum fat burn.
  6. The only muscle groups that really burn fat are the primary muscles like the chest, back, quads, glutes and hamstrings. Focus hard on those.
  7. A little thing like changing your music playlist every week can go a long way. The more your mind is stimulated during your workouts, the better your results will be.

Warner outlines a complete guide to the exercises that go along with her core principles. Illustrations and instructions are provided ensuring your safety and proper form.

CONCLUSION

Jackie Warner’s This is Why You’re Fat is an organized diet and exercise plan that combines Warner’s motivational and inspiring personality with her health and fitness expertise to help you lose weight.

Her book is not just a cookie-cutter diet plan as it instead encourages the reader to look beyond just the food and helps overweight people understand just how powerful they can be at reclaiming their life and their health.

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Sure, you can lose weight quickly. There are plenty of fad diets that work to shed pounds rapidly — while leaving you feeling hungry and deprived. But what good is losing weight only to regain it? To keep pounds off permanently, it’s best to lose weight slowly. And many experts say you can do that without going on a “diet.” Instead, the key is making simple tweaks to your lifestyle.

One pound of fat — is equal to 3,500 calories. By shaving 500 calories a day through dietary and exercise modifications, you can lose about a pound a week. If you only need to maintain your current weight, shaving 100 calories a day is enough to avoid the extra 1-2 pounds most adults gain each year.

Adopt one or more of these simple, painless strategies to help lose weight without going on a “diet”:

  1. Eat Breakfast Every Day. One habit that’s common to many people who have lost weight and kept it off is eating breakfast every day. “Many people think skipping breakfast is a great way to cut calories, but they usually end up eating more throughout the day, says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to the New Food Pyramids. “Studies show people who eat breakfast have lower BMIs than breakfast-skippers and perform better, whether at school or in the boardroom.” Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low-fat dairy for a quick and nutritious start to your day.
  2. Close the Kitchen at Night. Establish a time when you will stop eating so you won’t give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television. “Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else,” suggests Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD’s “Recipe Doctor” and the author of Comfort Food Makeovers.
  3. Choose Liquid Calories Wisely. Sweetened drinks pile on the calories, but don’t reduce hunger like solid foods do. Satisfy your thirst with water, sparkling water with citrus, skim or low-fat milk, or small portions of 100% fruit juice. Try a glass of nutritious and low-calorie vegetable juice to hold you over if you get hungry between meals. Be careful of alcohol calories, which add up quickly. If you tend to drink a glass or two of wine or a cocktail on most days, limiting alcohol to the weekends can be a huge calorie saver.
  4. Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that’s not really so difficult: “Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings,” she says. “Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won’t be reaching for the cookie jar.”
  5. Go for the Grain. By substituting whole grains for refined grains like white bread, cakes, cookies, and pretzels, you add much-needed fiber and will fill up faster so you’re more likely to eat a reasonable portion. Choose whole-wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, bran flakes, popcorn, and whole-rye crackers.
  6. Control Your Environments. Another simple strategy to help cut calories is to control your environment — everything from stocking your kitchen with lots of healthy options to choosing the right restaurants. That means avoiding the temptation by staying away from all-you-can-eat restaurants. And when it comes to parties, “eat a healthy snack before so you won’t be starving, and be selective when you fill your plate at the buffet,” suggests Ward. Before going back for more food, wait at least 15 minutes and have a big glass of water.
  7. Trim Portions. If you did nothing else but reduce your portions by 10%-20%, you would lose weight. Most of the portions served both in restaurants and at home are bigger than you need. Pull out the measuring cups to get a handle on your usual portion sizes, and work on paring them down. Get instant portion control by using small bowls, plates, and cups, says Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating. You won’t feel deprived because the food will look plentiful on dainty dishware.
  8. Add More Steps. Get yourself a pedometer and gradually add more steps until you reach 10,000 per day. Throughout the day, do whatever you can to be more active — pace while you talk on the phone, take the dog out for an extra walk, and march in place during television commercials. Having a pedometer serves as a constant motivator and reminder.
  9. Have Protein at Every Meal and Snack. Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help keep you feeling full longer so you’re less likely to overeat. Try low-fat yogurt, small portion of nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also recommend eating small, frequent meals and snacks (every 3-4 hours), to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to avoid overindulging.
  10. Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. “You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice,” says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.

3. Limit packaged, processed foods

Packaged foods tend to be high in sodium, fat, and sugar, so you want to try to limit them as much as possible from your diet. Pick your top five processed foods, whether it be cookies, crackers, chips, or candy, and gradually downshift. “If you’re eating six of these foods a week, try to go down to five,” Lutes advises. Each week, drop another food until you’re at no more than one or two. At the same time, replace them with healthier snacks, like baby carrots with hummus, Greek yogurt and fresh berries, or natural peanut butter with an apple.

4. Go on more walks throughout the day

Americans use their cars for two-thirds of all trips that are less than one mile and 89 percent of all trips that are one to two miles, yet each additional hour you spend driving is associated with a six percent increase in obesity. Burn calories instead of gas by following this rule: If your errands are less than one mile away, walk to do them at a brisk pace. Or, park your car, where you can run several errands within a mile, instead of moving your car each time.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, adults should get at least 150 minutes—2 hours and 30 minutes—to 300 minutes—5 hours—a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes—1 hour and 15 minutes—to 150 minutes—2 hours and 30 minutes—a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

6. Incorporate strength training into your routine

Basic bodyweight exercises, like squats and push-ups, are a simple way to build more metabolism-revving muscle in minutes at home without picking up a single weight. “Your muscles don’t know the difference between working against your body’s own resistance and on a fancy piece of equipment,” says Wayne Westcott, PhD, fitness research director at Quincy College. “The one rule to follow is that each exercise should fatigue your muscles within 60 to 90 seconds,” he says. For extra burn, you can add an resistance band to basic moves.

Try this mini-workout: Do 10 reps each of knee push-ups, squats, crunches, lunges, and chair dips. Then gradually increase the number of reps it takes for your muscles to feel fully fatigued.

7. Use the stairs whenever possible

Have a choice between riding and climbing? Adding two to three minutes of stair climbing per day—covering about three to five floors—can burn enough calories to eliminate the average American’s annual weight gain of one to two pounds a year. Walking up a flight of stairs can also help strengthen your glutes and quads, so there are some strength training benefits as well.

8. Use a fitness tracker

Today’s fitness trackers allow you to take more control over your health by providing you with important data about your eating, sleep, and workout habits. Consider purchasing a fitness tracker to help you monitor not just how many steps you’re taking each day, but how many calories you’re burning, how much sleep you’re getting, what your resting heart rate is, and what your eating habits are like. It’ll also help you stay on track with sticking to the goal of getting 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week.

9. Prepare your own lunch

OksanaKiianGetty Images

You’ll save thousands of calories—not to mention hundreds of dollars—over the course of a year if you pack your lunch more often. For example, a pre-made chicken Caesar wrap from a chain restaurant has 610 calories—40 percent of which come from fat. It also has 1,440 milligrams of sodium, which is more than half the recommended daily amount.

Make your own with sandwich at home with chicken breast on whole-wheat bread with light mayo, tomatoes, and Romaine lettuce. This will help you cut calories and sodium. “When you make and eat your own food, you not only control the quality and portion sizes but also reduce the amount of sugar, salt, and fat that you’re consuming, which can be significantly higher in restaurant fare,” says Ashley Koff, RD, a registered dietitian based in Washington, D.C.

10. Enjoy dessert

It might sound contradictory to treat yourself to dessert when you’re trying to lose weight, but the truth is, depriving yourself of treats can lead to overeating. Instead, portion out one serving of your favorite treat. Take a minute to smell it, look at it, and savor each bite. Chew slowly, moving it around your mouth and focusing on the texture and taste. As you do this, ask yourself whether you want another bite or if you feel satisfied. Tuning into your body will help you eat more mindfully and feel more satisfied.

“When you take the time to slow down and be more mindful of what something really tastes like, you’ll feel more satisfied,” says Lutes. “Many people will find that they’re content after just a couple of bites and are better able to stop eating when they’re satisfied,” she explains.

11. Sip wisely

Skip fruit juice, which tends to be loaded with sugar, and enjoy a healthy smoothie instead. Smoothies are a much healthier choice than fruit juices because they keep the fiber from fruits and vegetables intact, making them more filling and nutritious. But not all smoothies are created equally. It’s important to prepare a smoothie that has a good balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. That means not loading it up with just fruit. Get muscle-building protein from protein powders, low-fat milk or unsweetened nut milk, Greek yogurt, or oatmeal. Add volume and extra fiber from dark, leafy greens, frozen cauliflower and other veggies. Top your smoothie with chopped nuts for a boost of healthy fats.

To promote satiety, eat your smoothie in a bowl with a spoon, rather than slurping it down with a straw. “When you chew a food, you generate more saliva, which in turn carries a message to the brain that your gut needs to get ready for digestion,” explains Koff. “Drinking doesn’t require such digestion, so the body doesn’t register that it’s full as quickly.”

12. Stay hydrated

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Sometimes you confuse thirst for hunger, which can cause you to eat more food than you actually need. So it’s important to stay hydrated and drink sips of water throughout the day. Water is also key to better digestion and a revved-up metabolism. You’ve probably heard the golden rule that you should drink eight glasses of water a day, but the amount of water each person should drink varies greatly. People who are very active, take certain medications, or have a viral illness need to drink more water. The best way to make sure you’re properly hydrated is to drink water whenever you feel thirsty and to take sips of water before, during, and after a workout. You can also stay hydrated by eating more water-rich fruits and vegetables.

13. Team up with a workout buddy

Exercising with a friend helps you stay accountable and able to stick with your workout. Nobody wants to leave a pal stranded on a street corner at 6 a.m., but your workouts don’t always have to be done face-to-face. If you subscribe to a weight-loss app, join the community boards and challenges, where you can find people with similar goals and share your progress.

14. Lighten up your coffee order

A regular cup of coffee with a dash of milk and even a little sugar has hundreds of fewer calories than the blended drinks, which are practically dessert in a cup. You can easily lighten up your coffee order without sacrificing taste by opting for low-fat milk or an unsweetened nut milk, adding just a touch of honey for sweetness, and a dash of cinnamon for flavor.

15. Get enough sleep

Make a point to go to bed earlier, and you’ll notice a difference in your energy levels and mood. Research shows that just a few nights of sleep deprivation can lead to almost immediate weight gain. That’s because when you don’t get enough sleep, you’re not able to make healthier choices throughout the day. When you’re tired, you tend to compensate with fatty and sugary foods. You also want to take a close look at your nighttime habits. Is dinner your biggest meal of the day? Are you having too many midnight snacks? These habits could be messing with your weight-loss efforts.

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Alie Lengyelova / Stocksy6. Make breakfast a priority.

“Eating a breakfast full of lean protein and fiber will keep you satisfied, which helps you make better food choices throughout the day,” says Zeitlin. To maximize the power of breakfast, opt for meals that aren’t carbohydrate bombs without anything substantial to keep you full, like bagels, cold cereal, and muffins. “Try scrambled eggs on whole grain toast, plain Greek yogurt with a cup of your favorite fruit, or an omelet loaded with veggies,” says Zeitlin.

7. Be a smart snacker.

When you’re trying to lose weight, snacking can either be your best bud or a seemingly helpful, yet undeniably sneaky saboteur. There’s the issue of unknowingly taking in more than you think, which you can fix in a snap by pre-portioning your snacks according to their serving sizes rather than just chipping away at them willy-nilly. Another snacking problem can arise if you graze, aka eat mindlessly throughout the day, rather than snack intentionally. Check out these snacking for weight loss tips to make sure you’re on the right track.

8. Clock enough hours of sleep every night.

It can be hard to stick to a good sleep schedule—especially when there are episodes of Homeland to catch up on—but getting enough rest is an easy way to encourage weight loss. “Sleep helps keep the appetite hormones ghrelin and leptin in check,” says Zeitlin. “Without an adequate amount, those hormones become unbalanced and can lead to an increased appetite.” According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim for between seven and nine hours a night.

9. Stick to healthy eating even on the weekends.

When you’re obsessed with eating well Monday through Friday but consider weekends a food free-for-all, you may not see the weight loss you expect. “If you add it up, eating poorly and not exercising Friday to Sunday comes out to 12 days ‘off’ a month!” says Mashru. “Instead of letting the days of the week influence your habits, focus on creating a healthy lifestyle—with the occasional indulgence—that’s sustainable all month long.”

10. Rely on smaller plates.

If you look at the same amount of food on a little plate vs. a large one, your eyes might convince you there’s more deliciousness on the smaller dish. This is due to what’s known as the Delboeuf illusion, which shows that surrounding something in a lot of white space can make it look smaller. Even if you’re not eating much, cutting back on the amount of plate space around your food can trick your brain into thinking it’s a bigger portion than it really is, whereas doing the opposite may stoke your hunger by making you think you only ate a bit.

11. Cut back on family style eating.

When you dine with serving dishes full of extra helpings right in front of you, you can slip into mindlessly refilling your plate even if you’re not still hungry. Instead, whenever possible, limit the food on the table to what you’re actually eating. That’s not to say seconds are forbidden—just that you should check in to see if you’re still hungry before getting up to grab some more.

12. Sit facing away from the buffet at restaurants.

Always having more food in your line of sight may push you to get into food-coma territory, especially if you’re trying to get your money’s worth. Rather than eating while gazing at what you might treat yourself to next, turn your back to the other food and focus on really enjoying what’s on your plate. If you want more food when you’re done, the buffet will still be there!

13. Pile your plate high with vegetables.

One of the best ways to get into the healthy-eating habit is by adding things to your diet instead of removing them. Refusing to eat any of your favorite treats can backfire in a binge, whereas slowly increasing your vegetable intake can only bring good results. “Not only are vegetables filled with important nutrients that keep your body healthy and energized, they contain fiber, which helps you feel satiated,” says Mashru. To avoid vegetable burnout, she suggests starting small: add a cup of them to at least one meal a day for a week, then start incorporating them into more meals as you get used to them.

14. Keep a food journal.

If you’re doing all of the above but still not seeing any noticeable weight loss, dropping pounds can feel like a mysterious equation you just can’t crack. In that case, Zeitlin suggests keeping a food journal so you have a detailed yet overarching view of your habits. “It can help you find the areas specific to you and your lifestyle that could use some small tweaking,” she says. Do your best to track your food and beverage intake for a week, then look back to see if you’re unwittingly taking in a few extra calories you could cut out in order to get the results you’re after. Above all, remember that losing weight healthily often involves some trial and error—but the point is that along the way you learn how to be good to your body, which is really what matters.

6 Small Steps to Successful Weight Loss

If you’re caught in a cycle of gaining and losing weight, the approach you’re using might be the wrong one for you.
One of the most common ways for people to lose weight is to go on a diet. And that diet? Is usually a drastic one.
​I bet you’ve done it before. You try to change all your “bad” eating habits at once.

  • You stop eating your favorite foods.
  • You cut out entire food groups.
  • You eat foods you don’t particularly like
  • You let yourself get so hungry, you want to stuff your face pasta.

I get it.
The problem with this all-or-nothing approach is that the change is too drastic for most people.
You have trouble “sticking” to the diet (not your fault).
You might even be unsure of what you’re doing or you’re full of doubts (again, not your fault).
And then the call of your old lifestyle becomes too strong, leading to failure yet again.
Say it with me, people: not your fault.
There is an entirely different approach that’s been helping 100,000 people lose thousands of pounds over the years.

Forget The All or Nothing Approach

If you have trouble with drastic changes to your diet, the best way to lose weight and be successful at it is to take things one step at a time.
When you change just one small thing into a healthier habit, you find that you don’t feel so deprived — and you’re more likely to stick with it as a regular habit.
And here’s the real trick: the change you make is one you should be “ready, willing and able” to do.
On a scale of 1 to 10, the change you want to make should be at least a 9 out of 10. That’s right, a 9 or 10. An 8 won’t do.

Ready, Willing and Able Worksheet

Here’s a worksheet you can download to help you turn a change you want to make into a 9 or 10.
Ready, Willing and Able Worksheet
By the way, this is the same kind of worksheet used in my online nutrition coaching program. Learn more about online nutrition coaching.
Here are some examples of small steps you can take to lose weight.

1. Look at your beverage choices.

If you drink nothing but sugary sodas, coffee, and energy drinks, you may want to take a look at how many calories you’re consuming. These drinks have virtually no nutrition and “cost” you many calories. If you’re not ready to completely give up these types of drinks, try switching to diet or gradually decreasing the number of sugary drinks you have per day. This alone can help you to lose weight. Ditch or reduce alcohol, too. Alcohol can stall your weight loss.
See: Are Your Liquid Calories Making You Gain Weight?

2. Exercise 30 minutes, 3 days a week.

While most doctors recommend getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, this can be daunting for people who don’t exercise at all. If you try to do too much at once, you may hurt yourself or get too tired. Instead, take things in small steps—start by exercising just 3 days a week, for example, and work your way up.
See: How Often Should You Exercise?

3. Eat more veggies.

Maybe you’re the type of person that has a burger and fries for lunch and spaghetti for dinner. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for your veggies. You should aim to get five servings per day. If you’re not, try gradually sneaking them in—add them to your pizza or make a pasta with lots of veggies. Your taste buds will start to change and you’ll start to want more.
See: How To Eat More Vegetables to Lose Weight

4. Decrease your grains – especially your processed grains.

This is probably where you can make the most progress towards your weight loss goal. We usually eat too many grain products — and we rely on them way too much. How easy is it to pop in in a bagel or a couple of slices of bread in to the toaster. Or what about cereal for supper? I bet many of you have done that.
The problem with grains is they’re not very nutrient dense. And if the grains you’re eating are processed (Hello, bread!) it can cause a spike in your blood sugar. And that can translate into cravings.
A breakfast of protein and fat (plus veggies) will get you through the morning without even thinking about a morning snack. So, you end up eating fewer calories — without being hungry. And that breakfast will contain more nutrients. It’s much better than, say, toast with jam.
Same with lunch.
Supper time is a good time to add in a bit of grains. (Another time is after a heavy-hitting workout.) Grains like bread, pasta, rice should *not* be the star of the show. A cupped hand is usually all you need.
See: Learn More About Hand-Size Portions

5. Don’t take away your favorite food.

Ah—there’s something you want to hear, right? Undoubtedly, you have some type of favorite food that ends up being “forbidden” when you go on a diet. Because it’s your favorite, you end up craving it and eventually go back to your old ways. You don’t have to give this food up. But you also shouldn’t eat it every day. Plan to eat it, keeping within your calorie deficit, and you won’t feel deprived.
See: Making Room for Ice Cream (video)

6. Get back on track.

Hey, we all slip up sometimes. That’s a part of life. When some people slip up, however, they stay that way, going back to their old lifestyle. If you overindulge, don’t beat yourself up over it, but also don’t use it as an excuse to keep overeating. Get back on track starting with the next meal.
See: What do Do After ‘Cheating’ on your ‘Diet’

How to Put This Into Action

  1. Think of a small change you want to make that can help you reach your goals. It doesn’t even have to be about nutrition. It can be anything you want.
  2. Use the Ready, Willing, Able worksheet to score yourself on a scale of 1 to 10.
  3. Break the change down into smaller pieces if you’re not scoring at least a 9 on the scale. (The worksheet helps you do this.) If you’re having a lot of trouble breaking it down to a 9 or 10, go back to Step 1.
  4. Once you score a 9 or 10 for each question, then it’s time to execute! Do whatever you need to do to make this change.

These things are all small things that you can start doing today. By taking things just one step at a time, you’ll find that it is much easier to lose fat and become healthy.
If taking things slow resonates with you, this is how I coach my weight loss clients. We take things one step at a time. No quick fixes here! If you’re stuggling on your own, I can help. Learn more about personal weight loss coaching and what it can do for you: Personal weight loss coaching with Coach Suzanne.
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5 Steps to Lose Weight

To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. But it’s not always clear how to do that. For most people, a successful weight-loss plan has two parts: healthy food choices and physical activity. Understanding the balance between the two can help you lose weight more easily and keep it off!

According to the National Weight Control Registry, of adults who have successfully maintained their weight loss:

  • 98% have modified their eating habits.
  • 94% have increased their level of physical activity, especially walking.
  • 78% eat a healthy breakfast every day.
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of television per week.

So you think you’re ready, but you’re not sure how to take that first step? It’s not as hard as you might think.

Start your weight loss journey using these 5 steps:

  1. Set realistic goals.

    Before beginning a weight-loss program, assess where you are today so you know what you need to improve. Learn your BMI to help determine how much weight you would like to lose to reduce your risk of health problems.
    Set yourself up for success with short-term goals, like “I will make lifestyle changes which will help me lose (and keep off) 3-5% of my body weight” or “I will reduce the amount of times that I eat out each week from ___ to ____.”
    Short-term goals like these can seem more achievable, and can, little by little, keep you on track toward your long-term goals. If the goal is too difficult, it’s harder to achieve and can lead to self-judgement and disappointment that can derail the smaller successes you’ve achieved.

  2. Understand how much and why you eat.

    Use a food diary or tracking app for a while to gain an understanding of what, how much, and when you are eating. If you tend to snack late at night or visit fast food restaurants several times a week, those might be opportunities to make healthier choices. Being mindful of your eating habits and aware of common roadblocks and excuses in your efforts to lose weight can help you set and reach realistic goals.

  3. Manage portion sizes.

    It’s easy to overeat when you’re served too much food. Smaller portions can help prevent eating too much. Learn the difference between a portion and a serving and how to keep portions reasonable.

  4. Make smart substitutions to reduce sodium, saturated fat and added sugar.

    Foods high in saturated and trans fat and sugar are often high in calories too. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite flavors. Learn to make smart substitutions instead. Learn how to reduce the added sugars in your diet with these infographics. Take the 21-Day Sodium Challenge to reduce the sodium you eat. Discover healthy snacks for between meals and fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods to help keep you fuller longer.

  5. Balance what you eat with physical activity.

    Most of us can agree it’s easier to take calories in than to burn them. The amount of physical activity an individual needs to lose weight can vary, but in the weight-loss equation, healthy eating and physical activity complement each other. Both are essential parts of losing weight and staying at a healthy weight. Physical activity is anything that gets your heart rate up. Learn the AHA Physical Activity Recommendations for Adults.

Tips to help you on your weight-loss journey:

  • You may want to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN) to create a healthy eating plan. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers a “find a dietitian” resource on their website.
  • Learn how sleep can affect eating and see if there are changes you could make in your sleep schedule.
  • If you feel you need more support, look for a weight-loss program that’s been proven safe and successful. Get personal support from a weight-loss group or buddy.
  • Aim for a gradual weight loss with healthy lifestyle changes until you reach a healthy weight.
  • If you have any heart conditions or you are experiencing symptoms of other chronic health issues, talk to your healthcare provider before starting a weight-loss or exercise program.
  • Include maintenance in your goals to help you keep the weight off.
  • Remember, these steps lead to life-long healthy eating. They are not a quick-fix diet.

Last reviewed on 12/2015

Tips on eating healthy and losing weight

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