Like many people, I struggled for years to lose weight. These are the habits that not only helped me shed my excess weight but also helped me keep it off for good.
1. Curbing late-night snacking
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a late-night snacker. Even if dinner was filling and satisfying, I always find myself wanting a sweet treat.
Cutting out my after-dinner snack showed immediate results on the scale. Another benefit of not snacking after dinner was getting a better night's sleep. When I eat late at night — especially sugary or fatty foods — I have difficulty falling and staying asleep.
In order to lose weight, steer clear of after-dinner snacking during the week and only allow yourself an occasional evening treat on the weekends.
2. Keeping alcohol consumption to weekends or special occasions
Although I admittedly enjoy a couple drinks on the weekends or the occasional glass of wine with my husband, it's undeniable that eliminating or reducing alcohol makes the weight loss process much easier.
We often only associate calories with food and forget that beverages can also be highly caloric. If you're trying to lose weight, be smart about your alcohol consumption. Save the alcohol for special occasions, or drink only once a week.
Once you attain your weight loss goal, you should be able to drink alcohol in moderation without gaining back the pounds you've shed. When it comes to alcohol, moderation is key!
3. Cleaning out my pantry
Most of us have a few foods that always seem to sabotage our diets. For me, it’s anything containing chocolate, but my mom can't resist anything salty.
I’ve learned from trial and error — some big errors, might I add — about how to cope with my trigger foods and prevent them from ruining my well-intentioned weight-loss plans.
To start, determine which foods trigger you to overeat. For example, I can keep a gallon of my favorite ice cream in the freezer for months without overindulging; I simply enjoy a scoop when I feel like it.
But I can’t keep a bag of chocolate candies or chocolate chip cookies in the house without losing control. Once you've determined which unhealthy foods prompt you to overeat, remove them from your kitchen.
Simply getting these unhealthy foods out of the house will allow you to make better choices and lose weight.
4. Moving a little more
Although you can successfully lose weight without exercising, you can accelerate your weight loss by incorporating a very manageable exercise program. Whenever I need to lose a few pounds, I simply add another 10 minutes to my exercise routine.
This 10-minute addition is a small change and is very manageable, but it makes a huge difference in how quickly I can lose those extra pounds and keep them off.
Keeping a journal is an effective weight-loss tool. Journaling or maintaining a food log makes you more aware of what you’re eating so you can stay on track with healthier habits.
For me, recording my progress in a journal makes me more honest with myself and helped me lose weight.
Even today, when I gain a few pounds (as I did over the holidays), tracking my food for just a week or two can be enough to get me back on track and lose the excess weight.
6. Eliminating or reducing diet soda
Many people believe they are doing themselves (and their weight) a favor by using artificial sweeteners or drinking diet soda. But artificial sweeteners and diet sodas may actually work against you in the battle of the bulge.
According to Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity and weight-loss specialist at the Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, artificial sweeteners overstimulate our sugar receptors and may change the way we taste food — making healthy foods less appealing and even making us crave sweet foods.
In fact, a study in the Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience shows that artificial sweeteners, which people often believe help prevent weight gain, actually induce hormonal and physiological responses that can have the opposite effect.
Trying to lose weight? Ditch the diet soda and opt for water or herbal tea instead.
7. Enlisting friends or family
Try to find a friend, family member, or coworker to eat healthy with you. Over the holidays, my husband and I both gained a few extra pounds. Although I only gained four or five pounds, the excess sugar and alcohol I consumed during the month of December left me feeling sluggish and heavy.
My husband and I decided to tackle losing weight together. Doing it as a team made it so much more fun. We were able to plan special dinners with each other and even made it a point to visit restaurants that offered healthy fare. Doing it together made it that much easier to stay motivated.
Want a little extra motivation to eat better and lose weight? Join me for my new mbg video course: A 14-Day Clean-Eating Program: How to Kick-Start Weight Loss in Two Weeks. I will personally walk you through the program and provide you day-by-day meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists!