Most people who want to lose weight have more than 12 pounds to lose. That’s why even the best weight loss drug in the world can only be an optional complement to other treatment. That’s why this piece of advice is number 18 out of 18. It may be a helpful addition for some people, but the advice higher on the list is what can make the biggest difference, by far.
Studies of successful dieters reveal a hard truth: "They remain fairly strict about their eating forever," says James O. Hill, Ph.D., cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry, which keeps data on thousands of people who have lost weight and kept it off. Sound depressing? Think of it this way, suggests Eat to Lose, Eat to Win author Beller: "You just need to find a nutritional strategy you can live with long-term—like allowing yourself to have dessert or a cocktail or two every so often. It's like moving to a new city. For the first year or so it's difficult, but once you establish a routine you get comfortable. You might still miss things about your old life, but you're happy with your new one too."
Sleep not only reduces stress, helps us heal faster and prevents depression, it can also help shave off pounds. That’s because sleep loss is linked to changes in appetite and the metabolism of glucose (sugar in the blood). Moral of the story: Sleep is associated with less weight gain. Take a look at our guide to sleep positions to optimize those hours spent under the sheets. And try other solutions for extra zzz’s like turning off electronics in the bedroom and avoiding large meals late at night.
Adding whole, natural, and anti-inflammatory foods to your diet is a great start for better health and to keep weight off. “People who consume natural, whole foods have lower rates of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease,” says Luiza Petre, M.D., NYC-based cardiologist and weight management specialist. “Anti-inflammatory foods in particular, such as low-fat dairy, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, poultry, and fish, can make a significant difference when trying to shed pounds and belly fat. They are easily digested, keep you satiated, and boost energy levels.”
Ideally, it’s best to clean out your fridge and cupboards so there aren’t any junk options, but maybe that would start a civil war in your house. If you live with someone—or several someones—who don’t share your enthusiasm for healthy choices, that’s okay, just be sure to put your food where you see it first, suggests Dubost. That might be eye-level shelves, or one dedicated cupboard for you, as well as the top shelf of the fridge.
If you need some Meatless Monday inspiration, look for veggies that contain less starch. In addition to being excellent sources of fiber, protein, and a host of other nutrients, healthy picks such as broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes can help combat fat. In fact, one Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that consuming more non-starchy veggies resulted in an impressive 17 percent decrease in visceral fat in overweight kids. Although you may be all grown up, it’s safe to assume that adding more veggies can help adults trim their fat, too.
There’s a new therapy in town and, according to a study published in Obesity, it helps people lose more weight and keep it off longer. While standard behavioral treatment (SBT) is the norm for encouraging patients to decrease caloric intake and increase physical activity, acceptance-based behavioral treatment (ABT) has all the same behavioral skills but links weight loss efforts to a larger personal value. People who tried ABT didn’t just experience 36 percent more loss than SBT patients, they also had a higher likelihood of maintaining 10 percent weight loss 12 months later. Worth looking into, right?
Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is never a good idea because research has shown it inhibits your ability to make smart choices about what you wish to eat. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that even short-term fasts can lead people to make more unhealthy food choices, picking a higher quantity of high-calorie foods. Fill up before you shop in an effort to avoid buying foods that won’t help you lose weight.
When people tell me that they have a sugar addiction, I tell them to narrow it down. I used to eat anything and everything that looked sweet and tasty. I knew I had to cut back in that area so I realized that I am a chocolate lover, first and foremost. Berry tarts, gummy bears, and sprinkles won’t ever do it for me the same way chocolate does. Once I discovered this, I found it extremely easy to pass on these things and not be tempted by them. However, if I'm faced with good chocolate, I usually decide it’s totally worth it.
Everyone knows that smell plays a huge part of how we taste our food—remember your fourth grade science experiment where you ate an onion and an apple with your nose pinched and couldn't tell the difference? So while it may seem a little extreme (and get you some weird looks at restaurants) clipping your nose shut during meals will help you only eat until you're full. Although it does make your favorite foods a lot less enjoyable.
Before you begin the habit of refilling your water bottle several times a day, make sure yours isn’t laced with BPA. A Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a 75 percent greater chance of being obese than those in the lowest quartile. No wonder why drinking out of plastic bottles is one of our 40 Bad Habits That Make You Fat! To avoid weight gain, make sure your bottle is BPA-free and be particularly wary of plastics that sport a #7 recycling symbol on them, which is an indicator that BPA may be present.
Cutting carbs altogether can often cause a guilt-ridden binge that will leave you unmotivated and packing on the pounds. Instead of prohibiting yourself from eating the foods you love, set a carb curfew. “For dinner, contestants always have a high-protein, high-fat meal with plenty of fibrous veggies,” Chris Powell of ABC’s reality series Extreme Weight Loss tells us in Chris Powell’s Behind-The-Scenes Extreme Weight Loss Tips. “If they have a post-dinner snack, they stick to protein-rich, high-fat foods like almonds or 2 percent milkfat string cheese.” Nixing carbs at night flips the fat-burning switch by increasing the amount of fat-burning hormones released while we’re asleep, Powell adds.
Places like airports, drug stores, and even home-goods stores all sell food, but it's usually not very healthy. Instead of shopping until you feel famished then buying whatever unhealthy items are available near the checkout stand, plan ahead and pack a nutritious snack. Sliced apples and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, or Greek yogurt and nuts are all inexpensive and convenient options.
Enlist a workout buddy. You’re more likely to stick to a weight loss program if you have social support — after all, it’s hard to slack off when someone is counting on you. “Having an exercise partner can help you keep each other on a healthy path,” Heathman says. If you can’t find a workout buddy in your area, join an online accountability group — virtual fit-buddies are fine as long as they’ll nudge you when you need it.
Speaking of sweets, if you’re going to choose something for dessert, it should probably be chocolate. A 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found those who regularly ate chocolate were thinner than those who ate it less often. Just make sure what you’re eating is the antioxidant-packed dark variety of 70-percent cocoa rating or higher.
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.
Looking for the easiest possible way to lose weight? Grab your pajamas early and log some extra Zzzs! According to researchers, getting eight and a half hours of shut-eye each night can drop cravings for junk food a whopping 62 percent and decrease overall appetite by 14 percent! Mayo Clinic researchers note similar findings: In their study, adults who slept an hour and 20 minutes less than the control group consumed an average of 549 additional calories daily. That’s more calories than you’ll find in a Big Mac!
Chronic migraines were what first inspired Amanda Tagge to start exercising. “I was hoping to find some relief from my headaches and working out did help but I realized that if I really wanted to feel better I needed to revamp my health habits overall and lose weight,” she says. The more she changed, the better her headaches got and she lost 70 pounds in the process which helped her feel even better. Focusing on all the ways her health was improving kept her going even when the scale wasn’t moving.
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.”