1. Make friends with your scale.
If you want to lose weight, think of your scale as a friend, not a foe. Weigh yourself once a day, first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom and getting undressed (water weight and clothing can throw off the number). Track your results and stay motivated by following the weight graph’s changes over the next few weeks.
2. Post goals in spots you’ll see.
Keep yours top of mind by writing them down and posting in several places where you’ll notice them often—on your computer monitor, on the fridge, in your wallet. Then tell someone about it. Research conducted by the Dominican University of California showed that people who wrote down their goals, shared them with a friend, and then followed up with weekly updates were, on average, 33% more successful than those who didn’t write down their goals or share them with others.
3. Write down every bite, nibble, and swallow.
According to recent studies, participants who keep a daily food journal lose twice as much weight as those who don’t. Keep track today by recording the food and portion size. While tracking every day leads to more weight loss success, do what feels right to you. If tracking for 2 days a week is more realistic, then commit to completing that goal and staying mindful of what you eat the other days.
4. Eat breakfast every single day.
Eating breakfast is like giving your metabolism a little jolt, causing it to rise faster and burn calories at an optimal rate. It can also help you keep weight off in the long term. According to data from the National Weight Control Registry on people who have maintained a weight loss of around 30 pounds for at least a year, 78% of the people reported eating breakfast every day. What you eat for breakfast is key, says Angela Ginn, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She suggests you choose foods with a lower glycemic index to keep blood sugar low and energy high, such as barley, which is high in fiber and has a nutty, wholesome flavor.
5. Diversify your menu.
Change up the old standby fruits and veggies you’ve been rotating in your daily menu. Try Clementines, figs, or Asian pears—whatever’s in season and isn’t more of the same old apples, bananas, and baby carrots.
6. Plan healthy snacks like you do meals.
Prepare for afternoon hunger with nutritious snacks you bring from home, says Jim White, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Writing down what snacks you’ll eat and when you’ll have them will keep you from grazing, so you’ll be less likely to overeat, he says. Aim to have your snack 3 to 4 hours after lunch to keep energy revved.
7. Take dinnertime down a notch.
Slow it down—you’ll feel fuller faster, plus research shows that the more you chew, the more nutrients your body absorbs. Sip water often, put your fork down between bites, and chew a few more times than you normally do so you’ll be less likely to overeat. Nolan suggests her patients practice these tips to slow down during meals and become more aware of their hunger signals:
- Concentrate on the taste, texture, and temperature of every bite.
- Always set the table.
- Take a deep breath before each bite.
- Experiment with using chopsticks.
8. Eat your last meal later.
Contrary to popular belief, eating late at night won’t make you gain weight. Adjusting your dinner hour to a later time actually saves calories by curbing the urge to nosh in front of the TV. “Having dinner a little bit later—but at least 2 hours before sleeping—helps prevent mindless snacking, which often happens in the evening,” says Nolan.
9. Stop “distracted” eating.
Don’t eat in front of the TV, when you’re on the computer, or while reading—all situations that encourage mindless noshing. Instead, sit down at the table when you eat. If you have to eat lunch at your desk, turn away from the computer and take a few minutes to enjoy your meal—no work distractions allowed. If you’re used to snacking in front of the TV, take that time to paint your nails, straighten up the living room during commercials, or use a teeth-whitening strip.
10. Find a low-calorie go-to dessert.
You know you’re going to crave sweets, so get prepared with a healthier version. Keep dark chocolate squares in individual packets for a quick, chocolate fix at work, and store low-fat frozen treats in the freezer at home (keep them under 150 calories each).
11. Do one push-up a day.
Building a stronger body doesn’t have to mean hours at the gym. Start with one push-up a day—this do-anywhere move works your arms and shoulders; strengthens your back, abs, and chest; and tones your butt and legs. Marc Alabanza, program director for the Ranch at Live Oak Malibu, says: “It seems like a little activity, but at the end of a week, you’re guaranteed to have done five to seven push-ups. Do two the next week and you’ll increase by 100%.”
12. Commit to 8 hours of sleep.
Tiredness could be the reason your cravings are out of control. Research shows that lack of sleep raises levels of ghrelin, a hunger-boosting hormone. In one study, appetite—particularly for sweet and salty foods—increased by 23% in people who lacked sleep. Get back in control by going to bed earlier for the recommended 7 to 9 hours a night.
13. Wear a form-fitting outfit on Fridays.
“Friday is the day most people fall off their diet,” says Ginn. “I tell clients to wear something form-fitting on Friday or when they go out to eat. This will curb the urge to overindulge and help you stay motivated while losing weight.”