When the going gets tough (and it likely will from time to time along any weight loss journey), it’s important to realize that a host of non-food factors can make losing weight difficult, explains board-certified obesity medicine specialist Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and author of The Fat Loss Prescription. Hormones, genetics, and, ultimately, metabolism are three big ones, he says.

Sure, you know the main weight-loss tactics: drink plenty of water, eat veggies, and exercise regularly. But just when you thought you had tried it all, there’s a whole new mix of methods that could help drop the number on the scale as well. Whether it’s upping your vitamin D intake, working out on an empty stomach, or eating dessert for breakfast (no, seriously!), anyone can use these surprising, fat-burning tips. And for more calorie-incinerating advice, learn the 20 Weight-Loss Techniques Every Successful Dieter Uses.

“People have a much better chance of having a slim waistline if they plan when they are going to eat and what they are going to eat,” Mark Langowski, celebrity trainer and author of Eat This, Not That! For Abs tells us in 20 Ways to Lose Weight Forever. “Before I go to bed, I look at my schedule for the next day and plan out what I am going to eat and where I will eat it. If you let the day begin without planning, it will be 3 pm before you know it and you’ll wind up making an unhealthy decision.”

Certain meds may promote weight gain or adversely react with foods that are normally part of a healthy diet. Some blood thinners, for example, are infamous for requiring patients to limit foods that contain vitamin K—the nutrient found in leafy greens and other vegetables. If you suspect medications or health conditions are hampering your efforts, it's worth a discussion with your doctor or dietitian.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
Lasting weight loss demands that you transform your eating and exercise habits. But many other choices you make each day, such as how much time you spend sleeping or surfing the Internet, can also make a difference. The seven habits described in this issue of HEALTHbeat can help you move toward your weight-loss goal. Most target the common reasons people are overweight.
If you're trying to lose weight, you probably have an ultimate goal in mind. It's great to have a target but it's also important to set small, manageable goals throughout the process. If your aim is to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year, first focus on losing five pounds by next month. If you want to be a size six, start with dropping one size. If your goal is to give up your 3-cups-a-day soda habit, begin by cutting back to one daily cup. Setting smaller goals will help you recognize your progress and keep you motivated, and they'll eventually add up to your ultimate goal! 
“Fad diets and meal replacement shakes are not the answer to sustainable weight loss or better health. Sure, you can do something drastic to lose 20 pounds in a month, but chances are these actions aren’t sustainable. If you want to lose the weight and keep it off for good, target a weight loss of one to two pounds per week so you can truly see permanent, long-lasting results!” Kristen Carlucci Haase RD-N dished out in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
Wansink and his team found that people who sat by a window or in a well-lit part of a restaurant tended to order healthier foods than those who sat at darker tables or in booths. And diners sitting within two tables of the bar drank an average of three more beers or mixed drinks (per table of four) than those sitting farther away. Additionally, the closer a person was to a TV, the more fried food he or she ordered. Whether or not these choices are causal remains to be determined, but it can't hurt to request a table by the window, right?
Step far away from the TV — particularly during commercials. All the ads for high-calorie foods and snacks might not seem like they’re doing any harm, but researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute found that they can activate your brain, making you crave the sweet or fatty foods you see on your screen. And, those signals could end up making you put unhealthy foods on your own plate.
Coffee doesn’t just energize you — it can also help you shed some unwanted pounds. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the caffeine in the morning beverage can boost your metabolic rate for hours, helping you burn more fat. Going overboard won’t do you any good, though, and can even have adverse effects on your heart health: stick to the recommended 400 mg of caffeine per day.
Fun fact: National Weight Control Registry members, who have all lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least a year, eat 2.5 meals per week at a restaurant—and only 0.74 meals per week at fast food joints like Burger King and McDonalds. And we have to say, it’s a smart move. Limiting the number of times you dine away from home is an easy way to keep excess calories, salt, sugar and fat off of your plate without a second of thought. Dine out no more than three times per week—and stick to these 25 Restaurant Meals Under 500 Calories—to keep your waistline trim and lean!

An impressive 90 percent of NWCR members report exercising for about an hour per day. Whether you enjoy going for a jog outdoors, signing up to different boutique fitness classes every week, or lifting free weights at the gym, getting up and moving is your key to burning some major calories and keeping belly fat at bay. Even if you prefer taking a brisk walk after dinner, you’ll still see long-term results; the registry’s most frequently reported form of activity is actually walking.
If you want to do a bunch of unproven, gimmicky, fad-ish, non-evidence-based, non-science-based, sometimes unhealthy, largely-if-not-entirely-unnecessary things with your dietary approach for the purpose of maybe indirectly causing the one proven, non-gimmicky, non-fad-ish, evidence-based, science-based, healthy and necessary thing (a caloric deficit) to happen… then a Group 2 diet is perfect for you.
Recent Cornell University findings suggest that shying away from the scale can cause those former pounds to sneak back onto your frame—not what you want! According to senior author David Levitsky, people who weigh themselves daily and track the results are more likely to lose weight and keep it off than those who check in less often. The method “forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight,” Levitsky said in a press statement. “The scale also acts as a priming mechanism, making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight.” For even more ways to shrink your gut, check out these 50 Best Ever Weight Loss Tips.
It's the name of a book and a weight-loss strategy promoted by hypnotherapist John Richardson, who believes that what you say to yourself—subconsciously and aloud—can help you prevent weight loss-sabotaging behaviors. For example, on a midnight fridge raid you might say to yourself, "What am I doing here? Is this really what I want?" It's a technique that Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York, and author of Slim By Design: Mindless Eating Solutions to Everyday Life, has found to be strongly associated with losing weight. The problem is, many of us aren't willing to do it because it's, well, strange. But it's very much worth a try. "If you're faced with a snack and you're not hungry, say to yourself out loud: 'I'm really full, but I'm going to eat this anyway,' " he advises. "We've found that when people make that statement aloud, two-thirds of the time they don't eat the food. That's all you have to do, but you do have to say it aloud."
“Repetition builds rhythm. Be boring. Most successful losers have just a couple of go-to breakfasts or snacks,” says registered dietitian Lauren Slayton. “Make an effort to pinpoint these for yourself. ‘Hmm, I’m starving what should I have?’ doesn’t often end well. You can change the rotation every few weeks, but pre-set meals or workouts on certain days will help tremendously.”
The average American consumes 15.5 pounds of pasta each year—and most of it is the refined white stuff. What’s the trouble with that? This type of noodle is almost completely void of fiber and protein, two vital nutrients for weight loss. To boost the belly-filling fiber and hunger-busting protein in your meal, opt for a bean-based noodle like Banza Chickpea Shells (2 oz., 190 calories, 8 grams of fiber, 14 grams of protein) or Explore Asian Black Bean Low-Carb Pasta (2 oz., 180 calories, 12 grams of fiber, and 25 grams of protein). Alternatively, whip up a batch of zoodles, or spiralized veggie noodles with the help of these 21 Mouthwatering Spiralizer Recipes.
Rather than relying on the drive-thru when hunger strikes, prep your meals in advance so that you have healthy grub on hand. “Identity three meals you can prepare with pantry staples and start cooking. Store the meals in your freezer so you always have something healthy on hand when hunger strikes,” Dietitian Christine M. Palumbo, RD, explains in 20 Ways to Lose Weight Forever. “For example, my go-to meals include risotto with frozen shrimp and asparagus, vegetable barley and a red lentil soup. Your goal should be to replace the meals whenever your stash starts running low.”
We’ve already extolled the benefits of green and black teas, but they aren’t the only brews that can help you get slim; research indicates goji tea is another winner. Lycium barbarum, the plant from which goji berries are harvested, boasts a slimming effect. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants were either given a single dose of L. barbarum or a placebo after a meal. The researchers found that one hour after the dose, the goji group was burning calories at a rate 10 percent higher than the placebo group, and the effects lasted up to four hours. What’s more? Most goji teas are mixed with green tea, making the beverage a weight loss double whammy.
When many of us have too many options to choose from, we often become flustered and make the wrong decision. Same goes for food. If you have a few different boxes of cereal and a handful of flavors of potato chips, you’re likely to eat more of the packaged stuff. Limiting your options to just one can cut down on your grazing habits and prevent a snack attack.
So, go ahead and pat yourself on the back for all that you’ve accomplished. But while you’re at it, why not start thinking about how you’re going to maintain your new body for the long haul? To help make it possible, we’ve come with 20 easy ways to keep those sneaky pounds away from your frame for good! Pick a few from the list below, stick to ‘em like it’s your job, and we can practically guarantee you’ll stay in your skinny jeans for life. And for some extra motivation, why not check out these 30 Healthy Habits Fit People Live By?

“I have one heck of a sweet tooth, and so I have to refuse to bring candy, cake, or sweets into the house, period,” say Lin Williams, who’s lost 105 pounds. Instead, if she wants a treat she has to want it bad enough to get up, get in the car, leave her home, and go to the store—a process that rarely feels worth it. And on the rare occasion she does indulge? “I get exactly what I want and enjoy every bite of it!” she says.
An impressive 90 percent of NWCR members report exercising for about an hour per day. Whether you enjoy going for a jog outdoors, signing up to different boutique fitness classes every week, or lifting free weights at the gym, getting up and moving is your key to burning some major calories and keeping belly fat at bay. Even if you prefer taking a brisk walk after dinner, you’ll still see long-term results; the registry’s most frequently reported form of activity is actually walking.
When you've hit a weight-loss wall, it may be time to change your thinking. "For some, I recommend focusing on forms of measurement other than the scale, such as body composition changes, energy levels, performance, etc.," Ostler says. "I personally like to have people focus on establishing healthy behaviors that can improve many aspects of health, instead of just weight, which isn't always the best measure of health."
The degree to which exercise aids weight loss is open to debate, but the benefits go way beyond burning calories. Exercise can increase your metabolism and improve your outlook—and it’s something you can benefit from right now. Go for a walk, stretch, move around and you’ll have more energy and motivation to tackle the other steps in your weight-loss program.
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