We are entering the last week of February, which means by now, over 86% of Americans that made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or improve their diet have quit. In fact, that habit of dropping resolutions is so embedded in our routine as a nation, that some groups refer to the second Friday of January as “Quitter’s Friday”. By then, many people have turned their attention to something else.
Changing lifestyle habits and routines is not easy and so it’s unsurprising that many struggle to hang on. Even if you’ve faltered, there’s every reason to recommit and restart with a new approach. Here are 12 simple ways to support a weight loss journey. Some of these only require minor lifestyle tweaks. Every week, add one or two new adjustments.
Instead of making it a goal to lose a certain amount of weight, fit in a specific size, or other hard-line goals, make it the goal to stick with the changes you’ve made and slowly incorporate other behaviors that will further help you move towards your goal.
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Increasing physical activity levels is sometimes the most daunting aspect for people seeking to lose weight. Where do we start? What equipment is needed? Add to it any uncertainty that exercises aren’t being done correctly, and it’s easy to just opt out. But movement can be almost anything. Walk for 5 minutes each day the first week. Can’t fit that in? Try parking at the furthest corner of the parking lot so you have to walk into work. Those small adjustments count! Try some seated exercises. Stand while working at the computer (read here about the importance of ergonomics at work, too).
Drink water, drink water, drink water! Dehydration increases weight. But it will also fill up the stomach faster and help you to feel full quicker. Start with 16 ounces before the meal and continue throughout.
10. Use a smaller dish
Eat on a salad dish and never finish more than 2/3 of what’s on the plate. If necessary, that last 1/3 can be treated as a decadent delight later that night when a snack is too much to avoid.
Sleep is a critical key to losing and maintaining weight loss. Yet something often overlooked. Studies show sleeping 7-9 hours a night will shed pounds annually. Make that the same 7-9 hours every night and you lose even more.
8. Mind your food
We don’t mean to agonize over every food choice you make. But really pay attention to what you’re eating-don’t get distracted. Focus on the food, not the TV, book, game, or computer. Not only do distractions encourage overeating, but people often reported feeling less full and went on to eat more later in the day or evening hours.
7. Be selective about your drinkware
Really craving that higher calorie beverage? Trick yourself into believing you’re drinking more by pouring it into a tall, thin glass. Even experienced bartenders poured 20% more when the glass was short and wide. Add ice to improve the illusion. Or, try these healthy probiotic-filled drinks that will provide vitamins, minerals, and other benefits while cutting the calories.
6. Choose your friends wisely
Friends and family can have a huge influence on our lives, for better or for worse. Friends and family may also play a role in obesity. Best buddies and family share life’s ups and downs. They may also share a tendency to gain excessive weight. A new study reports that a person is more likely to become obese if a close friend or family member has put on some pounds, even if the friend or relation lives many miles away. But the flip side is that you’re more likely to succeed if you have somebody that will help keep you accountable and is on the journey with you. Invite somebody to join you in your pursuits and you’ll both be better for it.
5. Take your time
Eat foods that require shelling such as peas, oranges, and edamame. The longer they take to uncover, the more time you’ll have to sense if you’re full and ready to stop. Take a sip of water in between each bite to increase the feeling of fullness.
For this to be beneficial, you need to make sure you don’t inadvertently eat more calories than you require. To help with this, choose smart snack options and even portion out the servings before hand so you know the portions are what they are.
3. Plan your meals
The quality of family diets directly correlates to the frequency of families sitting down to dinner together. Research consistently shows lower body mass indexes (BMI) in children and adolescents that eat meals together at home. Plus, preparing the food becomes a quality family event that seeks to encourage a unified approach to healthy eating.
2. Improve your cooking skills
For many people, cooking is therapeutic and a great way to bond with others that join you in the preparation. Understanding how to prepare meals and develop better skills in the kitchen can be a powerful way to lose weight without reducing what you eat. People who have more knowledge about how to cook are more likely to eat a wide variety of highly nutritious ingredients, including fruit and vegetables, which are great for weight loss. In fact, researchers are increasingly linking weight gain and obesity to poor cooking skills.
Easier said than done for all of us, for a million reasons. The truth of it is, the more we are in a constant state of stress, the more likely we are to stress eat, or eat out of habit, not hunger. Shift from seeking out a comfort food to a habit that counteracts stress hormones and sends out reward hormones (like going for a walk!). Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Take time for that hobby you love. Read about other ways to boost endorphins, here.