Believe it or not, weight loss isn’t just about exercising and eating right; research suggests what motivates you to get in shape can play a role in your success. A 2014 study in the journal Body Image looked at 321 college-age women and found that long-term, those who exercised primarily for appearance-based reasons had a harder time sticking to their fitness plans than those who worked out to maintain their health. In other words, stop envying those fit models on Instagram and instead remember that you and your loved ones are the people who really benefit when you slim down.

Simple carbs are the white stuff — white bread, most pastries, refined sugars (the kind in soda and candy). What makes them simple? These foods provide energy, but lack the same nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fiber) as complex carbohydrates. The body also breaks down simple carbs quickly—meaning your blood sugar will spike, and your tummy might be rumbling sooner than you imagined. Choose whole grains instead, which may reduce potentially dangerous excess abdominal fat buildup (which can lead to diabetes). Switch to whole-wheat pasta, whole grain bread, or try grains like brown rice, quinoa or millet.
You probably wouldn’t think body maintenance has anything to do with sitting in front of your computer or looking at your phone, but it does. A little screen time goes a long way when you engage in interactive weight management websites. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, consistently logging on and recording food records, activity levels, and the number on your scale once a month for almost three years resulted in maintaining the most loss. To be more specific, these active users kept off an average of 9 out of 19 pounds they lost in the first place.
But if navigating these choices seems confusing, that’s where Eat This, Not That! comes in. What really works are making little lifestyle tweaks, simple moves that help you slash calories, boost nutrition and build a healthy foundation. We’ve gathered up some of the easiest, most effective new tricks and tactics to help you shed those unwanted pounds and slim down for good.
Here’s your chance to splurge on those dim, overhead kitchen lights you’ve been waiting. A 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Reports: Human Resources & Marketing found those who ate in environments with soft lighting and music ate fewer calories than those who ate in bright, loud environments. So turn down the lights and turn every meal into a fine-dining experience.
“For busy people, [planning ahead] is the most efficient way to get done what you need to get done — whether it’s your job, your workout, meal planning ... It’s not easy and we have so many things going on. Putting things down on paper clears your brain. Now you don’t have everything in your head; it frees up the space to focus on what you need to do. “
Schedule "cheat meals" and gym breaks into your routine. “It’s hard to be consistently motivated and always be on your game. Give yourself a little bit of a reprieve," says Delaney. "Mentally, it’s not normal to constantly be on all the time, we need to unwind and relax. By doing something that’s not perfect, were allowing ourselves to revel in the moment and celebrate our success; it gives us a renewed energy to move on.” To do this, Delaney says to schedule one cheat meal a week, and to pick 1-2 days where you let your body rest. "Go out and have a slice of pizza and a glass of red wine. Your body needs that, not just physically, but mentally. Same with the gym. You don’t need to work out every day. Give your body that recoup time; physically and mentally it needs it. Give yourself a break so you can sustain that motivation. It’s an allowance instead of creating the ‘I messed up syndrome’ which causes you to get off track.”

You don't really want dessert, but your friends are having some, and they're urging you to join them. So you give in and order a piece of tiramisu. Sorry to say it, but you've just committed sociotropy, aka people pleasing, a behavior that can make you gain weight. In a recent study, women and men who regularly experienced negative emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger, and were impulsive and disorganized, tended to be heavier than those who were more even-keeled. "Women score slightly higher than men on people-pleasing measures," says Julie Exline, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University. That may be because guys are raised to be assertive while women are socialized to value relationships and "basically to be nicer," Exline explains. In other words, we're inclined to go along with what the rest of the group wants to do, which includes digging into the tiramisu after dinner. If you feel pressured to pig out, "tell your friends politely but firmly that you're fine with what you have and that you're not hungry for more right now," Exline advises. Hold your ground and your pals will get the message.
If you feel like you've been doing everything right and you're frustrated by the scale refusing to budge, here's one last diet tip: Don't give up! Regroup and start troubleshooting your diet and weight loss program by finding out more about how to bust through a weight loss plateau and exploring more tips for thyroid patients on making your diet work for effective weight loss. Consulting with a registered dietitian and a fitness trainer may also be helpful.

When researchers compared women on two different diet plans—one that gave dieters a list of foods they could eat and a few easy-to-follow rules, and another more-complicated diet that allowed dieters more food choices, but required them to carefully track all of their eating and exercise—they discovered that those who found the latter plan difficult were the most likely to give up. "Complex diets can be burdensome, so opt for one that seems manageable," says study coauthor Peter Todd, Ph.D., a professor of cognitive science and psychology at Indiana University in Bloomington and director of the IU Food Institute. "Everyone has a different tolerance, so the diet that works for your best friend might feel challenging to you. And if you're feeling overwhelmed by a diet, switch to a simpler approach. That's far better than quitting altogether."
SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
Or any activity that lowers stress. "The lower your stress, the lower your cortisol levels," says Fred DeVito of Exhale Spa. That means your body will store fewer calories as fat. If you're not sure yoga's for you, check out all the amazing things it can do for your body besides stress reduction in our report on 7 Surprising Reasons You Should Be Doing Yoga Now.
Calcium and vitamin C team up well to boost metabolism, and broccoli is just one of several healthy foods that contains both nutrients. What sets broccoli apart from the others, however, is that the green veggie also contains kind of fiber that’s been shown to increase the digestion, absorption and storage of food, also known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). A revved up metabolism combined with an increased TEF is a match made in weight loss heaven, so consider incorporating broccoli into a tasty stir-fry, or serving it as its own side dish.
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