©iStockphoto.com/Martinina Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/Martinina
1. Become goal-oriented
Set short-term benchmarks you plan to reach while working toward your end goal, says Amanda Pereira, a Winnipeg woman who lost more than 70 pounds in one year with the help of small, achievable goals. "It's important to set mini goals as well," she says. "That end goal seems like a long ways away, but when you're successfully reaching your mini goals, you'll be more motivated to keep going."
2. Play the waiting game
"Always wait for the last person at the table to finish [eating] before going back for seconds," suggests Marcia Silviolotti, a registered dietitian with Me and You Nutrition in Toronto. "This gives you time to feel your satiety cues." Most experts recommend letting at least 20 minutes pass after you clear your plate before you take a second helping.
3. Think before acting
Jill Wallace, a registered dietitian with Nurture the Future Nutrition in Burnaby, BC, suggests considering the reason you want to make a change before implementing a weight-loss plan. "This way you're not just jumping right into it. Instead, you're giving yourself permission to start the change in a gentler, more sustainable way," she says. Being mindful also helps you stick to your meal or fitness plan down the road, ensuring long-term success.
4. Turn to tech
Track your progress using digital diet and exercise tools. "Food tracking is well known to increase accountability and awareness," says Silviolotti. "If you're tired of using apps, connect with a friend and text each other your diet and activity."
5. Get your zzz's
Get enough shut-eye and keep your sleeping times consistent: Your sleep and wake times should always be the same, with no more than a 90-minute variation between days. "A recent study showed a link between consistent sleep time (especially wake time) and lower body fat," says Silviolotti. "Get 6½ to 8½ hours of sleep daily. Recent evidence shows that people who log those hours have lower body fat."
6. Think about indexing
Use the glycemic index (GI) as a helpful weight-loss tool. The GI is an assessment of carbohydrate levels in foods, which are ranked from low to high. "Try to only consume foods that are rated low (0 to 55) on the index. Foods such as apples, whole grains, berries, sweet potatoes and legumes are all low-GI foods, which means that they won't rapidly raise your blood sugar," says Susan Watson, a registered dietitian with A Little Nutrition in Winnipeg. You can find the index on the Canadian Diabetes Association website at diabetes.ca.
7. Exercise at your fitness level
If you're new to exercise, begin with a program that strengthens your muscles and joints before starting a more strenuous regimen such as running or a hard-core sport, advises Lorraine Cowley, a Toronto woman who lost 56 pounds over the course of a year. "This helps you avoid injury," she says. "I started with Pilates and did that for six months before starting to play tennis. I've avoided injury, which would have seriously hampered my weight-loss success."
8. Slash the sweets
"I try to limit added sugars and artificial sweeteners in foods such as breakfast cereals, yogurts and beverages," says Brooke Bulloch, a registered dietitian with Food to Fit in Saskatoon. "I buy them plain and then add the sugar at home, if needed. This way, you're more accountable for how much sugar you're putting in; or you can add dried or fresh fruit instead of sugar." Cutting hidden sugars is a big step toward eating more healthfully, losing weight and boosting your immune system.
9. Become a stair-climber
Always, always, always take the stairs, suggests Andrea D'Ambrosio, a registered dietitian with Dietetic Directions in Waterloo, ON. "Don't think about it—just take those stairs instead of the elevator or escalator," she says. Climbing stairs, she notes, burns twice the number of calories as walking, and stair-climbers also have greater leg strength and better aerobic capacity. "Climbing just two flights of stairs every day could equate to a six-pound weight loss per year," adds D'Ambrosio.
10. Become a chatty Cathy
Talk about your weight-loss or fitness plans. "Tell someone your goals," says Danielle Smith-Parney, a Waterdown, ON, resident who recently lost 22 pounds. "And not just anyone, but somebody who will push you if you are falling short because it's easier to fool yourself with excuses."
For more weight-loss motivation, check out these eight Canadians who kept their New Year's resolutions.