Did you know that losing weight and keeping it off is one of the hardest things you will ever do? It’s challenging, exhausting, and pretty much the exact opposite of fun. But all that hard work is worth it when you look in the mirror and see a slimmer, happier version of yourself. And keeping that slimmed-down version of yourself happy and healthy for the long-term requires a lot of careful planning, educated decision making, and a little creativity. There are so many diets out there promising quick results with minimal effort required. Unfortunately, most of them are also really unhealthy in the long run. Besides, what works for someone else may not be optimal for your body type or personal preferences. If losing weight without losing your mind is something you’re looking to do—and keep doing—here are 15 ways to get started…
Commit to Exercising
No matter what diet you’re following, you’re not going to see dramatic changes if you’re not moving your body more. Exercise helps you burn extra calories, revs up your metabolism, and strengthens your muscles so you’re less likely to regain the weight once you’ve lost it. When it comes to losing weight, though, not all exercises are created equal. Focus on moving your muscles in new ways, which will help them stay stronger and more toned as you drop pounds. Some great options include walking, hiking, running, cycling, swimming, yoga, and weight lifting (with weight lifting being at the top of the list).
Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals
If you’re just shoving lettuce leaves in your face and hoping to lose weight, you’re not going to see results. You need to be strategic with your diet. Set calorie and macronutrient goals based on your level of activity and your body type. Expert opinions vary on how quickly you should lose weight and how much you should aim to lose each month. The best thing you can do is track your progress. If you’re not seeing results, try something new.
Plan Your Meals in Advance
Eating healthy foods is definitely important to dropping pounds. But if you’re eating the same bland lettuce salads every day, you’ll start craving bad foods and eventually give up. Eating the same thing every day gets boring and can lead to overeating. Plan your meals strategically based on your favorite foods, your calorie and macronutrient goals for the day, your body type, and your level of activity. You don’t have to plan every single dish in advance, but keep some healthy meal ideas in your back pocket for when you’re in a pinch.
Eat More Protein and Veggies
Protein is the building block of muscle and your body’s preferred source of energy. It will also help keep you feeling full and satisfied, which can be helpful if you have trouble sticking to healthier meal plans. If you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t have to go full carnivore. A diet consisting of mostly protein can be hard on your digestive system and lead to deficiencies in other important nutrients. Try to get 15 to 20 percent of your daily calories from protein, with the rest coming from carbohydrates.
Don’t Be Afraid of Healthy Fats
Eating healthy fats can actually help your metabolism, keep you full longer, and protect your heart. (But you don’t want to eat too many calories from fat, either.) Fats are an important part of a balanced diet, so don’t shy away from them just because you’re trying to lose weight. Just make sure to get your fats from nutritious sources like avocados, olive oil, fish, nuts, and seeds.
Make Time for Yourself Each Day
As we discussed above, it’s important to eat healthy meals, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly if you want to lose weight. But if you’re always rushing around and stressing over deadlines, you’re not going to give your body what it needs to succeed. Make sure you carve out some time every day to relax and recharge. Whether it’s listening to some soothing music, meditating, or reading a good book, you need to give yourself time to de-stress or you’re going to have a hard time losing weight.
Be Realistic with Expectations
As we just mentioned, you need to be realistic with your expectations. If you expect to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks, you’re likely going to be disappointed. If you have a specific goal in mind, you can work back wards and figure out what it will take to get there. This will help you develop a realistic meal plan and exercise routine, and keep you from getting discouraged along the way.
And most importantly, remember that slow and steady wins the race. There is no magic bullet or quick fix that will melt off pounds overnight. If you want to lose weight, you have to make a lifestyle change. That means making healthier choices in how you move your body, what you eat, and how you schedule your days. It also means being patient with the process; you can’t expect to see results overnight. But if you’re consistent with your efforts, you will see results eventually—and they will be worth all the hard work.