Humans are creatures of habit — which means our bad habits can be hard to break. So when it comes to making healthy changes to our daily routine, it takes time and persistence. A great place to start is our new 2-week Kickstart Weight Loss Health Rewards Program and try these 8 easy tips!
8 secrets to weight loss success
- A calorie is not a calorie. The equivalent number of calories in a high-carb processed food versus a protein-rich option affects our bodies very differently. The high-carb option results in elevated insulin production (the hormone that signals the body to produce and store fat) along with biochemical changes from added preservatives and chemicals if it’s been designed to sustain a long shelf life. What does this mean? You should be worrying about the ingredients — not the calories. Eating healthy and losing weight comes down to a diet that is based around whole, nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods.
- Food frequency matters. Is grazing really better than eating three meals a day? Not necessarily. If you tend to snack on high-carb options all day long, your body is experiencing insulin spikes and crashes that can eventually lead to insulin resistance, and will likely make you hungrier — or can even lead to chronic diseases like diabetes. A good idea is to have your meals and snacks scheduled each day to avoid snacking at all hours. Even better, tell yourself you’re having a “mini meal” (not a snack) and you’re more likely to choose nutrient-dense foods that won’t wreak havoc on your insulin levels — and will sustain you for longer.
- Stop fearing fat. If you tend to eat “fat-free” foods in the name of losing weight, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Mostly because these foods are high in artificial sweeteners and sugar — the real culprit when it comes to weight gain and other health issues. Good fat, on the other hand, helps to reduce appetite and hunger, makes you feel fuller longer, and can actually help better regulate your blood sugar. Time to learn which fats are the good guys and incorporate those into your meal planning! And remember, the real foods to fear are those marketed as “low-fat options” like diet sodas, low-fat yogurt and weight-loss drinks.
- Portion control is your friend. If you want to stop supersizing your meals, you simply need to have a rough idea of what it means to have one that is well-balanced — and serve yourself accordingly. A great trick is to use a smaller sized dish to trick your mind into thinking you’ve eaten more. The larger the plate, the bigger the chance that you’ll overeat. Eating out? Ask your server if they offer half-portions (not always included on the menu) and if that option doesn’t exist, order just an appetizer or two or half of your meal to go… before it’s even been served. You know what that means? Lunch tomorrow!
- Boost your protein intake to feel fuller longer. If you tend to feel hungry often, you are likely not eating foods that are satisfying your appetite. Want to keep your hunger in check? Make a point of incorporating high-protein foods, like eggs, fish and nuts into each meal. The great part is that protein-rich foods have been proven to boost metabolism and decrease body fat too — three weight management benefits for the price of one!
- Don’t forget that drinks have calories too. Whether you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or love to try the latest smoothie sensation at your local coffee shop, don’t forget that drinks have calories too. In fact, some drinks (like these 10 from Starbucks) might actually have more calories than an actual meal. When it comes to staying hydrated, good old-fashioned water is the healthiest option and it’s calorie-free, of course! Too boring? Add some lemon, lime or fresh fruit into your glass for a hint of guilt-free sweetness.
- Re-frame your relationship with food. Instead of depriving yourself of all of your favorite things (in the name of the latest fad diet) or feeling guilty after you indulge in a treat now and then, why not turn mealtime into a positive experience? It’s as simple as practicing intuitive eating. This means paying attention to hunger cues and responding when your body begins to signal that it is full. It also means letting yourself enjoy healthy versions of sweet treats and not cutting calories so drastically that you end up binge eating.
- More sleep, less stress. If you are chronically under-rested and over-stressed, you are much more likely to gain weight. Studies show that when you sacrifice sleep, you lose significantly less fat than you would if you were well rested — even if the calories you took in were the same (up to 50% difference!). This means it could take you twice as long to achieve a weight loss goal if you aren’t getting enough ZZZs. And if your cortisol levels are up, you are probably reaching for more high-sugar comfort foods way more often. So try calming activities like yoga, meditation or walking to help you sleep more and stress less.
A final thought before you begin: Acknowledge each small achievement — whether you’ve quit a bad habit or adopted a good one, it’s important to celebrate each healthy lifestyle change no
matter how big or small. When you add up all your baby steps, you’ll see that they amount to something pretty significant. And all these new, good habits will be much easier to keep after taking the time to build the necessary foundation… one day at a time.