7 Tips to Make Your Weight Loss Journey Easier
by Dani Taylor
Let’s face it, losing weight is hard. In the United States, 54% of adults tried to lose weight between the years of 2013 and 2016. Of these people, less than 10% of them will successfully lose weight and keep it off. Even when you’re doing all of the “right” things, weight loss is a huge challenge that must be at front of mind, often for months on end, in order to be achieved. This can be mentally and physically exhausting, which probably contributes to that very low success rate.
No one will ever say that weight loss is easy, but here are some little tricks that can make it a tiny bit easier. And in the long game of weight loss, every bit counts.
1. Think “addition” rather than “subtraction” to your diet.
When we think of weight loss, many of us immediately think of deprivation. We think of all of the foods that we “can’t” have when on a diet. This scarcity mindset works against us right from the start, making every move thereafter feel like an uphill battle. Rather than thinking of all of the foods you will need to exclude from your diet, think of all of the foods that you can include that are health-promoting and will get you closer to your goal! Load up your plate with fresh, colorful fruits and veggies. Venture into the produce section to try some foods you’ve never tried before. Fill up on these healthy foods first and you are far less likely to still be hungry for the more calorie-dense foods later.
2. Track what you’re eating.
We cannot manage what we do not measure. In a 1998 study, when asked to recall from memory how many calories people ate throughout the day, on average people under-reported by 50%. What this means is that if you think you’re eating 1800 calories a day, but you’re not logging your food to keep track, you may actually be eating closer to 2400 calories and not even know it. Study after study has shown that people who track their food are far more successful with weight loss. It is an incredibly eye-opening experiment that can really help you hone in on where you’re doing well, and where you can improve.
3. Schedule one meal a week to eat out.
Removing eating out, and social events from your calendar is not realistic for most dieters. And often, when someone does this, they struggle to handle these situations well when the diet is over because they haven't been practicing. For this reason, you should actually occasionally eat out at restaurants. Schedule a meal out each week, so that you can enjoy something that you wouldn’t normally have at home, while also practicing restraint by not ordering everything on the menu. It is perfectly ok to have a couple of slices of pizza on the weekend - this won’t set you back! And studies show that it may actually make you adhere more to your diet throughout the rest of the week!
4. Set non-scale related goals.
When you have a weight loss goal, it is very easy to become laser-focused on the number on the scale, often at the cost of everything else. Daily weight is influenced by so many factors that it isn’t a good idea to allow weight alone to dictate whether you’re feeling successful. Set a few goals that have nothing to do with the scale: run a mile, do a pullup, squat your body weight, etc. These additional goals will help keep you focused and on track without becoming too obsessed with weight alone.
5. Keep an emphasis on protein.
You have probably heard that protein is important when trying to lose weight, but do you know why? A few reasons actually. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, which means you feel fuller, which is great because no one likes to be hungrier than they need to be. Protein is also quite “expensive” to digest. It requires a lot more energy than carbohydrates and fats to digest protein. This means that you burn more calories (remember, calories are energy) simply by eating protein. Lastly, muscles are largely made of protein, by keeping your protein intake up when dieting, you help to maintain your muscle mass while losing weight, which means much more of the weight you lose will be body fat!
6. Identify your automatic bad habits. Then re-route your day.
This tip requires some self-awareness, but it is so worth it. Ask yourself “what are my bad habits around food and exercise?” Do you come home and immediately reach for the chips before you eat dinner? Do you promise yourself you will go to the gym after you go home to change, but just end up on the couch? Pay close attention and identify these habits - and then change your routine to avoid them. Perhaps bringing your gym clothes to work with you could eliminate the behavior, or making sure dinner is already prepped and ready to go when you get home from work.
7. Find support!
When you set out on a weight loss journey, not everyone will be supportive. This can leave you feeling very alone and even a bit vulnerable. But you don’t have to do it alone! Remember, at any time, about half of people are trying to lose weight. Reach out! Having an accountability buddy can be a game-changer for both you and them. This could be in-person, a buddy from the gym, or someone you found online. The key is that you’re both clear about your goals and what you’re hoping to get from the relationship!