“I’ve been overweight my entire life. I’d try different diets, lose a few pounds and then gain it back. When I turned 25, I was 485 lb. and I knew I was fighting for my life. I want to have kids one day and be more active with my husband. I wanted to stop sitting on the sidelines of my own life. At the beginning of 2016, I started tracking my calories, working out and making healthier versions of the foods I loved. Ultimately, I fell in love with taking care of myself. My advice is to focus on each day, not how far you have to go. Weight loss is a journey, not a sprint.”
We often make the wrong trade-offs. Many of us make the mistake of swapping fat for the empty calories of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead of eating whole-fat yoghurt, for example, we eat low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap our fatty breakfast bacon for a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.
“Family and friend support is so critical to staying accountable," says Delaney. "People may have a sincere interest to work out and eat healthy, but [it's hard if] their family is not on the same page. They buy junk food. They aren’t active. They sit in front of the TV instead of taking a walk.” But getting your family on board with your health goals is another one of those things that’s easier in theory than practice. Delaney offers up three strategies she uses in her own household:
You know that hitting the recommended five to nine daily servings of fruits and veggies can make it easier to slim down, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accomplish. A simple way to make it happen? Buy a fruit bowl. You’re more likely to grab fruits and veggies over less-healthy options if they’re ready to eat and in plain sight. Katie Cavuto MS, RD, the dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers, suggests keeping washed and prepared veggies like cucumbers, peppers, sugar snap peas, and carrots in the front of the fridge so they aren’t overlooked. Bananas, apples, pears, and oranges fare well as sweet snacks and should be kept on the counter where everyone can see them.
Pumping iron not only gives us muscles, but it can boost resting metabolism (meaning you burn more calories outside the gym) plus improve mood and confidence. Lifting a little weight can also help you sleep, another factor in effective weight loss. If we haven’t convinced you to take to dumbbells quite yet, there’s also this: Strength training takes just a few weeks to see results.
A series of new studies suggests that when you eat may be as important as what you eat. In one, participants who usually ate within a 15-hour window were told to confine it to 10 or 11 hours—and they dropped an average of seven pounds over the 16-week study, without changing anything else about their eating. "The timing of food intake affects the body's internal clock, which in turn affects genes that play a role in metabolism," says study author Satchidananda Panda, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. In other words, our bodies may burn calories more efficiently when we eat during a shorter window of the day. So consider eating your breakfast a little later and your dinner a little earlier.
Do-overs: They’re what your parents use to give you when you missed an easy hole on the mini golf course. But sadly, with adulthood, comes “grown-up” responsibilities, leaving little to no time for second shots—especially when it comes to your long-term happy weight. Shedding pounds takes countless hours of dedication, so if you’ve already gone through the grind to reach your goal weight, do you really want to do it again? We didn’t think so.
Have a strategy for dealing with food cravings. You can’t always avoid being around unhealthy foods, so it’s a good idea to anticipate cravings and have a way to deal with them when they arise. Need some ideas? This could include chewing gum, waiting a certain amount of time to see if the craving passes, distracting yourself by focusing on something else, or being mindful of the craving – acknowledging it, but not acting on it.
Writing stuff down may be helpful, but it’s tough to accurately gauge how much you move every day (and not just on the treadmill). Invest in a wearable to monitor energy burn. You can also track your daily steps with a simple pedometer. Studies show that individuals who walk more tend to be thinner than those who walk less, and pedometer-based walking programs result in weight loss.
In addition to watching what you eat, you should also take note of the hours you spend watching television. Not only is sitting in front of a screen for too long detrimental to eye health, it can also wreak havoc on your newly-trim waistline. Members of the National Weight Control Registry, who were able to lose weight and keep it off, nixed their binge-watching habit: 62 percent report watching less than 10 hours of TV per week. And it seems like the majority of the NWCR members also found a new, more productive pastime—just take a look at our next savvy hack.
Garlic may leave your breath smelling funky, but don’t let that stop you from incorporating it into your diet, especially since it can help you lose weight and keep you healthy. A 2016 study found that garlic powder reduces body weight and fat mass among people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Recent studies have also shown that garlic supports blood-sugar metabolism and helps control lipid levels in the blood. What’s more? Eating garlic can help boost your immune system, help ward off heart disease, fight inflammation, increase memory retention, and lower blood pressure.
Spirulina is a high-protein seaweed supplement that’s typically dried and sold in powdered form. The dried stuff is about 60 percent protein, and, like quinoa, it’s a complete protein—deeming it a great weight loss tool. A tablespoon of the blue-green algae delivers 8 grams of metabolism-boosting protein for just 43 calories, plus half a day’s allotment of vitamin B12, which can encourage weight loss by giving you more energy and boosting your metabolism. Try tossing some spirulina into a smoothie and watch the pounds melt off.
You don’t need to have some kind of apocalypse-ready jump bag ready (although, why not?), but grabbing one or two dependable snacks and throwing them in your work bag or gym tote is a good idea, says Rissetto. That’s because people tend to graze on unhealthy stuff more when they feel like they don’t have other options. Be prepared, weight-loss scout, and you’ll avoid the hangry times.
Maintenance is hard, but we’ve got good news! You don’t have to do it alone. A study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that low-intensity interventions could help obese outpatients who had just lost 16 pounds hold onto the progress they’d made. For 56 weeks, participants spoke to intervention contacts in group visits at first, then over the telephone with less and less frequency. By the end of the study, they weren’t in contact with anybody at all but still managed to only regain an average of 1.5 pounds. Those who hadn’t had any intervention contacts regained over three times as much weight. So whether you participate in a program or phone a friend, find people who can hold you accountable as you work to maintain your success.
Some antidepressant medications can cause weight gain, especially the older tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as Tryptizol, Saroten, and Clomipramine; as well as newer drugs such as Remeron (Mirtazapine). Lithium (for manic-depressive disorder) often causes weight gain. The most common antidepressants known as SSRI’s (for example Citalopram and Sertraline) usually don’t impact weight significantly. More on depression
The holidays can feel like an extended open bar, but switching to water occasionally can be helpful for your weight-loss strategies—and not just because you’re missing out on a calorie-hit in the moment. That’s because alcohol affects your liver’s ability to process sugar, according to Joshua Scott, M.D., primary care sports medicine physician at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. It can also lower your ability to burn calories efficiently, he adds, not to mention tanking your inhibitions when it comes to food choices.
But before we get into how to go about losing weight, please consider this: Weight loss isn’t a healthy goal for everyone, Susan Albers, Psy.D., a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic specializing in body image and eating issues, tells SELF. “I work in a medical facility,” she says. “I have access to people’s blood work. You can be healthy or unhealthy at every size.”
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.
It’s true that a caloric deficit—burning more calories per day than you take in—is a requisite of weight loss. But creating a deficit doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) involve deprivation. That goes for calories, carbs, sugar, fat, or any other commonly demonized nutrient. “No one food is responsible for your weight,” Langer says, explaining that a good vs. bad mentality sets people up for disordered eating and exercise habits. In fact, caloric deprivation increases how the brain responds to food, setting you up for binge-eating down the line, according to research from the Oregon Research Institute.
I used to be 100 pounds heavier than I am now. My eating habits were out of control and pretty much the epitome of mindless. I am A.D.D., I have two kids under four, and I work full time, so eating without constant distractions just doesn't happen. But over the years I’ve learned what it takes for me to lose my weight... and most importantly, keep it off.
High blood sugar levels coupled with high blood ketones, on the other hand, will mean that you have a pathologically low level of insulin – something non-diabetics do not suffer from. This can lead to ketoacidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition. If this happens, you’ll need to inject more insulin; if you’re at all unsure of what to do, contact a medical professional. Coveting really high blood ketones for weight control is not worth the risk for type 1 diabetics.
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.
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.
Regardless of birthdays, late-night bar crawls, and crazy work weeks, sticking to a consistently healthy diet on both weekdays and weekends renders long-lasting results. According to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, most folks who maintain their weight loss report that that their diet is the same on both the weekends and weekdays. And same goes for your workout schedule. “My most successful clients are the ones who stay consistent with their workouts throughout the year; they don’t let anything get in the way of their workout! It’s like putting on their pants or brushing their teeth and is something that they wouldn’t think of not doing!” Langowski explains.
When eating out or picking up a quick lunch on your break, ask for any sauce or dressing on the side. Though these emulsions often add flavor to a dish, they’re also frequently packed with empty calories, added sugar, and a whole host of other unhealthy stuff that makes shedding pounds that much harder. For example, just one three-tablespoon serving of Panera Bread’s Greek dressing has 230 calories. 3.5 grams of saturated fat, and 310 milligrams of sodium. By asking for the sauce or dressing on the side, you have more control over how much of it you eat, and you could easily save yourself a few hundred calories.
However, beating the odds can be a breeze as long as you stick to our science-backed solutions for lasting success. Adopt the lifestyle hacks below to look good for good and if you want healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips at your fingertips subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—click here!
It doesn’t take much convincing to wake up to a plate of over-easy eggs and whole-grain toast. In fact, munching in the morning—rather than saving your appetite for lunch time—can help you fight off weight gain for good. A study published in the journal Obesity Research discovered that out of participants who lost an average of 70 pounds and kept it off for six years, 78 percent ate breakfast daily.
To lose weight, you'll need to consume fewer calories than you burn. The exact number will depend on your current weight and activity level, but generally, people should aim to cut 250 to 1,000 calories from their diet per day in order to lose 0.5 to 2 lbs. (0.2 to 0.9 kilograms) per week. There are calculators available to help you determine how many calories you should consume per day.
Bumping up vegetable consumption has long been recognized as a way to protect against obesity. Add veggies to omlets, baked goods, and of course, pasta dishes (Bonus: Try zucchini ribbons, or spaghetti squash instead or traditional grain pastas). Pump pureed veggies, like pumpkin, into oatmeal or casseroles. Adding a little vegetable action into a meal or snack will increase fiber levels, which helps make us fuller, faster.
“Calorie counting is not the only game in town when it comes to weight loss. Chemical counting should also be part of our decision-making process. Processed foods, plastic bottles, lotions, non-organic dairy, and many other items in our daily lives contain endocrine disruptors that can lead to hormonal imbalance and stubborn weight gain,” Jennifer Cassetta, clinical nutritionist, personal trainer, and expert from ABC’s “My Diet Is Better Than Yours” tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
Even if you’re stocking up on fruits and veggies, buying inorganic may be doing your body a disservice, thanks to the pesticides. “They have been shown to poison the mitochondria so it cannot burn fuel,” says Walter Crinnion, N.D., chairman of the environmental medicine department at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Phoenix in Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried. “Fuel that is not burned turns to fat.” If you’re worried about breaking your budget at Whole Foods, start by stocking up on these 17 Cheap Organic Foods You Must Buy.
Unlike cheat days (or weeks!) that took place in your 20s, there’s little wiggle room for parties, holidays and vacations to slip up or pig out when you’re in your 40s and beyond. “The body’s metabolism is less resistant to overeating as you age,” Peterson says. This is why so many adults over 40 complain that they feel the effects of seemingly minor slip-ups on the scale the next day. If you know you’re attending a party or will be eating out, it’s critical to account for those extra calories by either eating less or exercising more before and after to avoid weight gain.
Despite the common perception that you need to drop pounds slowly in order to maintain your weight loss, the exact opposite is true. In fact, you’re more than five times as likely to succeed in your long-term weight-loss goals if you start out of the gate by dropping pounds rapidly, according to a 2010 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. To set yourself up for weight loss success, make sure you focus on diet and exercise.
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.
Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry staples could translate into serious calorie savings. A study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For this reason, many nutritionists suggest keeping indulgent foods in the pantry on a high shelf so that you’re less apt to mindlessly grab them.
You'll need to think about whether to have RAI versus other hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease treatments. Weight gain after RAI is common. One study on patients who had a thyroidectomy found that those who did the surgery as their first line of treatment were less likely to become overweight or obese than those who had undergone RAI first. Talk to your doctor about your Graves’/hyperthyroidism treatment options.
“Every morning I drink a cup of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and a dash of cayenne pepper,” says Michelle Keough. This helps her start her day off on a healthy note while getting her hydrated after a long night. This trick, combined with eating meals built around protein and veggies, helped her lose 20 pounds and keep it off.
Taking this vitamin daily may help you drop pounds. A study at the University of Minnesota found that people who started a weight-loss program with higher levels of D lost more than those who weren't getting enough of the nutrient. Other research suggested that vitamin D appears to boost the effectiveness of leptin, a hormone that signals the brain that you're full. Because it's difficult to get D from food, Shalamar Sibley, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the university, says you may need to take a vitamin D3 supplement. Many experts now recommend 1,000 international units every day.
“Don’t just write down everything you eat. Write down how you feel that day, what is going on in your life and how you feel after eating. After a while, look through your journal for patterns. Chances are you’ll find some. I’m a recovering food addict, and nothing was more freeing than realizing what behaviors or events were triggering my addiction. It wasn’t that I had no willpower; my brain was reacting to certain habits that made it hard for my willpower to do its job. Once I removed those patterns—like keeping cookies around the house—my willpower muscle could finally flex.”
Listen up: Skipping meals will not make you lose weight faster. If a hectic day makes a sit-down meal impossible, stash an energy bar or a piece of fruit in your car or tote, keep snacks in your office desk drawer, and make a point of getting up to grab a nosh — anything that will keep you from going hungry! Going long periods of time without food does double-duty harm on our healthy eating efforts by both slowing down your metabolism, and priming you for another binge later in the day. (Think: You've skipped breakfast and lunch, so you're ready to takedown a whole turkey by dinner!) Make it your mission to eat three meals and two snacks every day, and don't wait longer than three to four hours without eating. Set a "snack alarm" on your phone if needed.
People tend to find one workout routine and stick to it but it’s important to switch things up every now and then, especially in terms of cardio. Instead of simply running or walking, try to vary your speeds as you go. Researchers at Ohio State University found that walking at varying speeds can burn up to 20 percent more calories compared to maintaining a steady pace, so get moving!
Not long ago, Traci Mann and her colleagues showed study subjects a sad movie, then allowed some of them to eat their favorite feel-better food—such as brownies, cookies and ice cream. Others were given a granola bar, while a third group ate nothing at all. When the researchers assessed their subjects' moods afterward, there was no difference among the three groups. In other words, brownies aren't the surefire pick-me-up we think they are. Mann's takeaway: "When you feel bad, you're far better off calling a friend or going for a walk—both of which are proven to lift mood." These options also have zero calories.
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.”