26. Purge your environment.
If you’re really serious about losing weight, then you’ll need to change the messages you’re getting on what to eat: pack away the cookbooks, get some healthy meal cookbooks on your coffee table, get rid of the tubs of ice-cream and muffin mix, watch the healthy eating channels, skip the junk food TV commercials and ignore the marketing by focusing on your weight loss goals. Avoid the kitchen treats at work and get your colleagues on board to get healthy (but remember, it’s ultimately up to you). In other words, look around you and declare: “there’s a new sheriff in town!”
27. Get a personal trainer.
Sometimes it’s easier to motivate yourself if you have someone else kicking your ass. Not only that, but you’ll also learn the correct form for your exercises, how to warm up and cool down and thus make getting injured much less likely. Personal trainers can be expensive though, so the next best option is to get hold of one of the many fantastic exercise programs out there.
28. Cook less food at a time.
Cooking just the food you should be eating, will cut down on any second-helpings which get in the way of your weight-loss goals.
29. Find other emotional outlets.
You’ve heard of comfort food? Well, there’s a clue in the name – emotional eaters often turn to foods to satisfy an emotional craving, usually the high-calorie, sugary, fat kind. In other words, the exact opposite of what you want to be eating to lose weight. The truth is though, when you turn to food to cope with stress or boredom, it doesn’t really resolve the underlying negative feelings – in fact, you can often be left feeling worse. The solution is to find out what is triggering your emotional eating and make a positive change at that level – it could be your job or relationship or something else. Until then, make a list of other non-food related activities you could do, which you believe would be a step towards satisfying those emotional needs: running, watching a sitcom, talking to a friend, reading, or anything else. And if you find activities which are moving you towards being healthier then you get even more bang for your buck.
30. Use support networks.
The Internet has some really fantastic support communities for people who want to lose weight, so no matter your specific weight loss goals are, get involved in the communities and participate. Remember though, ultimately it’s all down to you… and you can do it.
Most people underestimate the amount of calories they eat and overestimate the amount of calories they burn. This is where keeping a food journal is going to be your best weight loss friend: if it enters your mouth jot it down. In the beginning you will need to measure everything so that you get a good understanding of what healthy portion sizes actually look like, or use recipes that have already worked out the calories per serving for you. What happens when you do this is you begin to develop an awareness of how many calories you’re actually eating. Especially take note of calorie-dense foods you may be eating: dips, salad dressings, fruit etc. The other mistake is overestimating how much calories you burn when exercising. For example, if you spend 30 minutes on the treadmill and burn about 300 calories, you may go home and think: “I’ve worked out, I can afford to eat a few cookies…” Well, a few cookies later and you’ll have wiped out the calorie-burning effects of that workout. So, spend time getting to grips with how many calories your taking in and how many you’re burning – write it down!
32. Carry a snackable source of protein.
We’ve already shown how protein helps you lose weight, but most protein sources aren’t exactly grab-and-go, so make sure you’ve got a high-protein snack on you whenever possible. Some great options are: boiled eggs, protein powder, nuts or jerky! Keeping topped up on protein will also ensure that you lose fat and rather than muscle.
33. Stick to low GI foods.
Studies have shown that eating a diet with low-glycemic foods has a significant effect on weight loss (particularly in women) – in one study, the lower glycemic group doubled their fat loss when compared to the high glycemic group. So go for the lentil soup, snack on a banana, or try some of these other low GI foods.
34. Chew more.
Studies have shown that healthy-weight people chew on average 15 times, while overweight people chew on average 12 times. So, try chewing your food more. Not only will it slow down your eating, but it also activates more of the digestive process and allows you to taste more of the foods natural flavours – meaning your less likely to reach for those extra calories in condiments.
35. Eat more protein.
Eat a high-quality source of protein with every meal. Studies have shown that protein helps you retain muscle mass and reduce body fat while you’re losing weight. Protein is also high in Peptide YY (PYY) which is an appetite suppressant. Just make sure it’s part of a balanced diet, because too much protein will put a strain on your kidneys amongst other less than healthy effects. So remember those veggies too!
36. Don’t eat too many fruits.
We love fruits, they’re a great healthy alternative to candies and cakes, but moderation is key. Fruits are packed full of natural sugars; for example grapes are almost all sugar, and there is some evidence that sugary foods actually leave you feeling more hungry. So treat fruits like treats – don’t gorge yourself on them, try some low GI fruits and trade up some fruits for vegetables. Try snacking of snap peas, cucumber slices, celery or whatever tickles your fancy. Also try to get the most bang-per-fruit by sticking to the nutrient-powerhouse superfruits.
37. Lift weights.
You’ll get more muscle and muscle increases resting metabolic rate – that means you’ll burn more calories even when you’re not working out. So not only do you get better body composition and look more toned, but you also get fat-loss thrown in for free. If you’re a woman, you don’t have to worry about getting huge muscles – it’s a myth (women don’t naturally have the testosterone). Studies have found that when you lift 85% of your max load per exercise, for 8 repetitions you burn 8 times as many calories after your workout than if you lifted less weight for more repetitions – in other words, lift heavy (but not crazy heavy).
38. Focus on short and long-term goals.
People who sucessfully lose weight and keep it off tend to have short-term as well as long-term goals. Establish your long-term goal and then break it down into smaller, more attainable pieces – daily, weekly and monthly goals. Quick tip: some research has shown that if you make goals which seem almost a little too easy that it can be much more motivating because it feels more attainable. In addition, a recent study has found that when cravings come up if you focus on your short and long-term weight loss goals it activates the prefrontal cortex which dulls the craving; as an added bonus it also increases your ability to resist temptation.
39. Drink your coffee black, no sugar.
We love a good cup of joe, and there has been some talk about it being good for weight loss (but the jury is still out on whether it’s actually good for weight loss or bad for it). What we do know for certain though, is that loading your coffee up with sugar, milk and whipped cream is definitely bad for weight loss! So if you’re going to enjoy coffee (and we still do) stick to a shot of espresso or a cup of joe, black no sugar.
40. Team up.
Buddy up with someone who has the same goals as you and is serious about reaching them, then set a plan and stick to it. Hold each other accountable.
41. Eat at regular intervals.
Although the latest studies have shown that meal frequency is not related to weight loss, it can still be a good idea to eat at regular intervals. The reason? Recent studies have shown that skipping meals can cluster together with other behaviours (like lack of meal planning) with the result that you reach for unhealthy, high-calorie but convenient foods.
42. Beware of hidden calories!
Many of our everyday foods contain calories which add up quickly. Especially beware of calorie-dense foods which contain huge amounts of calories even though you get very little food.
43. Find an exercise you love.
Just because most people think about gym when they think about weight loss, doesn’t mean that’s what you need to do. There are lots of exercise options out there: from basketball to running to rock climbing. Find an exercise you love to do and you’ll have a lot more fun getting the weight off. Just make sure that it burns enough calories, golf is fun but you’re not going to burn a lot of calories playing it (well, unless you use two clubs at a time and run the course).
44. Pack healthy snacks.
If you pack healthy, you’ll eat healthy. For e.g. fruit can give you that sugar fix when you need it and it’s a totally guilt-free snack.
45. Rest your cutlery between bites.
Most of us eat way too fast, lots to do right? The problem with this is that it takes about 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to tell you you’re full. In other words, by eating too fast, your brain doesn’t have enough time to tell you: “Whoa stop, the tank is full”. By eating at a slower pace, you give it plenty of time to send the signals and help you avoid over-eating.
46. Steer clear of food porn.
We love looking at images of delicious sticky, sweet and savoury foods we know we shouldn’t be eating, as much as the next person. But… neuroscientists have discovered that spending hours pouring over these images provoke a real emotional and physical hunger – duh! To make matters worse, they have found that people who are overweight appear to be more sensitive to the effect of viewing delicious foods. Studies have also found that looking at images of delicious foods actually increases the level of ghrelin (the hormone which makes you feel hungry) and further to that, studies have shown that people looking at food porn were more likely to overeat later than those who were looking at the actual food on a plate in front of them! So, stay away from the food porn… or try the healthier options: images of healthy food and exercise.
47. Don’t eat standing up.
Research has shown that people tend to eat more food and faster when they eat standing up – i.e. away from the meal table. Psychologically, it’s much easier to discount those mini-meals we have away from set meal times, yet they all add up to a higher total calorie count – bad for weight loss. It’s good to eat when you’re hungry once you’ve reached your ideal healthy weight because you will have retrained your eating patterns to follow a more healthy schedule. Until that point, if you find yourself eating while standing, you’re probably snacking when you shouldn’t be (unless it’s a healthy snack), so save it for your scheduled meal time!
48. Do it slowly.
Like the saying goes: “You didn’t put it on in a day; don’t expect to get it off in a day.” Studies have repeatedly shown that the most successful approach to lose weight and keep it off is slow and steady; aiming to lose about 1-2 pounds per week means that the weight loss will primarily be fat as opposed to muscle.
49. Don’t food shop when you’re hungry.
We know what it’s like, when you buy food when you’re hungry you want to put everything in the basket, especially the sweet and salty stuff. There’s a reason for this, research has shown that when you’re hungry your brain sends signals to you to go for the high-calorie food choices – tasty, sure… good for weight loss, erm no. So to keep yourself on track with your new healthy lifestyle snack healthy before you shop, or fill up on a healthy meal and then go shopping.
50. Use olive oil.
You’ve probably already know how good the Mediterranean diet is because it’s packed with high-quality proteins, an abundance of vegetables and healthy fats. Well, it turns out that olive oil is also a big part in making this diet so healthy – it’s packed full of polyphenols (antioxidants) and vitamin E. In addition to the many benefits of olive oil, studies have shown that it also speeds up the rate of fat oxidation, in other words it helps you to burn fat faster! Olive oil is quite high in calories so moderation is key and if you can, go for extra-virgin olive oil, yes it’s more expensive, but it’s so worth it. Be careful though, olive-oil packs a serious calorie punch: 120 calories per tablespoon! So if you do use it, make sure it’s just a teaspoon, about 40 calories.