If you have repeatedly tried to lose weight without much success, rest assured there is a better way. The key is creating a strategy for weight loss that includes the following five small but powerful changes. Implementing these tips will help you adopt the mind-set and strategies that will lead to losing weight.
Losing weight in 5 simple steps
1. Lose weight by keeping a food journal
Research has consistently shown that keeping written food records helps with weight loss. It’s easy to underestimate how much we have eaten – we forget about the small amounts of leftovers, the cream and sugar in our coffee and the candy we eat at work. Writing down what you eat helps you remain accountable and makes you more conscious of your food choices. To start, keep a small notebook close by at all times, and accurately record everything – the food you eat, the quantity and how you feel. It’s important to you track your food intake consistently for several weeks and to record it every day – not just on the "good” days.
2. Lose weight by planning ahead
Losing weight requires a commitment that goes beyond simply eating healthier. Planning your meals, grocery shopping, cooking, eating without distractions and exercising all take time and energy. Creating time in your schedule for weight loss , however, not only honours your commitment to lose weight, it honours your commitment to your health. Here are some ways you can plan in advance and reduce your daily food preparation time:
• Prechop vegetables twice a week, once on the day you shop and another time midweek. Store them in containers in the fridge for easy access.
• Precook protein for the week, like chicken breasts, burgers, hard-cooked eggs. Refrigerate them until needed.
• Make big batches of stir-frys, soups and chili on the weekends so you have meals ready for the week.
3. Lose weight by making over your kitchen
Your food environment can have a huge impact on whether your weight-loss efforts will succeed or fail. A kitchen makeover gets rid of the non-nutritious items that trigger you to eat poorly and replaces them with a variety of healthy choices. It also helps you stay in control and on track – if the healthy food isn’t available when you need it, you might opt for something else instead while standing in front of the fridge wondering what to eat for dinner. Make your kitchen a safe home base – toss out soft drinks, fruit juices, high-fat dips and dressings, processed meats, ice cream and processed snacks.
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4. Lose weight by knowing what to shop for
After ridding your kitchen and pantry of all the the unhealthy foods, fill up your cupboards with healthier items. The best weight-loss plans offer replacements and additions, not just subtractions. Weight-loss friendly foods you should include in your grocery cart are lean proteins like eggs, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, colourful vegetables and fruits, whole grains (such as oats, quinoa and brown rice), beans and legumes, and raw nuts and seeds.
5. Lose weight by tracking your progress
Achieving your goal weight starts with weighing yourself weekly at the same time of day. Your weight can offer valuable information, but it's best interpreted in conjunction with a circumference measurements of your waist (around your belly button) and hips (around the widest part of your buttocks, standing with your feet together).
Also, don't underestimate the power of before and after photos! Since you see yourself every day in the mirror, you're less likely to notice changes as they're happening. It's only when you see yourself "before" and "after" that you can see the progress you've made, leading to more satisfaction and motivation.
If your goal is to lose weight and eat healthier, set yourself up for success by following these guidelines and creating a motivating action plan to get you started and keep you on track.
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Dr. Joey Shulman is the author of the bestselling book The Last 15: A Weight Loss Breakthrough (Wiley, 2007) and founder of The Shulman Weight Loss Clinic. For more information visit www.drjoey.com or www.shulmanweightloss.com.