Yes, You Can Lose Weight Without Depriving Yourself. Here's How

Photo: Alie Lengyelova

If you've ever tried to lose weight, you know how difficult it is—but there's nothing more satisfying than the moment you realize that your slow, steady progress has paid off. Maybe you've been eating more vegetables than usual, or perhaps you've taken up running or hot yoga. Whatever the case, there's no one thing that leads to losing weight and keeping it off—it's a series of little tweaks.

Whether you're getting started on your own weight loss journey or you're looking to keep up the momentum, here are a few things to keep in mind.

What the mind thinks, the body follows.

There’s something interesting about subconscious decision making. It seems, when things are going well, they’re going great. Why is that?

As we reassure ourselves that we can be exactly who we aspire to be, we tend to make decisions that support that thought process. For example, if you’re thinking "I’ve been eating very healthy lately," when it’s time to prepare your next meal, you’ll be inclined to eat a meal that supports your new "healthy" identity and thought processes.

Mindfulness is at the core of weight loss. Being in control emotionally sets a great foundation for healthy decision making. Beyond that, there are a few other hacks you can use to increase momentum in your weight-loss and health journey.

Affirm your goals and confirm your identity to yourself.

Affirmations may be the most underrated mindfulness technique today. Affirmations are statements you read (or record and listen to) every morning and evening. I understand if you're suspicious of them at first glance, but research shows that mantras and positive affirmations actually have the power to rewire the brain.

I model my affirmations [aspirations] on my personal and career goals. That way, I’m continually reminded of what I’m working toward and reminded of progress I’m making.

Consider statements like this:

  • I love exercising every day. I am in perfect health and love my body. Going to the gym, exercising, and taking a sauna make me feel well-rounded and accomplished, and the benefits I receive from exercise are incredible.
  • I feel amazing every day.
  • I am a motivated, energetic person, I feel good every single day, and this makes me feel healthy, happy, and energetic. It's a cycle.
  • I am a powerful body, powerful mind, and a powerful soul. This makes me feel smart and deserving of the world’s greatest levels of success.
  • I am a happy person who is intoxicated with living; I enjoy life and life is good to me. This makes me feel happy and exhilarated.

I printed mine and then read them aloud (passionately!) and recorded with the voice notes on my phone. Now I listen to them when I get ready in the morning, every morning and night.

Affirmations quickly snap you out of any morning tiredness or funk and excite you for the day. The outcome is that I am always mindful of how blessed I am to have a well-functioning body, and I am compelled to support that thought process by exercising and eating healthy—just as my affirmations have confirmed.

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Mind your diet: Eat greens; experience all-natural weight loss.

Photo: @Manuta

Greens don’t just make us "feel" healthy when we eat them—they actually support fat loss. Fiber, which is readily available in almost all greens, is one of the few mechanisms that can break down fat molecules.

To make the most of your greens, it’s ideal to eat them raw. That way, none of the nutrients have been cooked out. They may taste a bit "different" to you at first, but after just a few times you’ll develop an appetite for the crunch and flavor of fresh veggies. If this is hard on your stomach (not everyone digests raw vegetables easily), roast or steam your vegetables. You'll still get tons of nutrients!

A few of my favorite raw vegetables include red bell peppers dipped in hummus, green beans, broccoli (a bit more challenging to digest), baby spinach, arugula, tomatoes, haricot verts, and asparagus.

Go for fasted fitness.

As you're planning out your gym scheduler, eating typically becomes a big question. Suddenly you're asking yourself, "Do I need fuel for this workout?" It seems that working out will be the most challenging when you have no "fuel" in your body, and everybody's body is different—for some people this is the case. But for others, their bodies operate better in a fasted state.

Hunger can actually energize you through a process called ketosis. Ketosis occurs when your body’s primary fuel source, glucose (or carbohydrates) is depleted, and the body and brain will turn to other sources for fuel.

More specifically, your body will create ketones from fat, which are used as fuel for the body. Ketones are nearly twice as easy for the body to burn, resulting in much more energy. Simply put, you get more bang for your buck when burning fat in a carb-depleted state.

I also find that when I'm doing yoga for health reasons especially, going into class on a full belly will only make things more difficult. There's nothing worse than rolling around on your belly, trying to rid your body of toxins, only to find that you're too full to do so. Defeats the purpose, right?

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Beware of the snack attack.

The urge to snack is real—trust me, I know! But the next time you feel the urge to reach for that bag of pretzels, chips, or that extra-large cookie, ask yourself this: Are you snacking because you're tired or bored or because your body is actually craving nutrients? If the answer is that you're tired or bored, go for a 15-minute walk if your schedule allows for it. You'll probably find that the outdoor air refreshes you and fulfills that snacking urge.

Plus, as I mentioned above, not snacking before your workout can, in a lot of cases, lead to a stronger workout. So as you approach your next mindful walk or yoga class, consider not eating a few hours before and enjoy the new energy you get from a little unaddressed hunger.

On your walk, or during your next yoga class, you may notice feeling lighter on your feet. You may also notice that physical activity can have a "washing" effect on your mind. Thoughts pass through, and you come out clear of mind after.

If you're still not finding the motivation to exercise as often as you'd like, don't be afraid to bring technology into the fold. You can find a little extra motivation to get out and walk by tracking with an app like Vea Fitness that gives you monetary incentives to walk, run, bike, go to the gym, or go to the yoga studio.

Happy mind, happy body.

As you go into your week, remember that your mindfulness practices will support good decision making. Meditation, walks, eating greens, and any intentional activity you do is going to help support your health and weight-loss goals.

So keep up your foundational practices, and the rest of life will find its way into order, including your weight. When you start treating your body right, your mind will follow. You've got this!

Inspired by these weight-loss tips? Here's exactly what you should eat for breaking if you want to lose weight, plus the truth about cardio and weight gain. And if you're a yoga fan, check out Caley Alyssa's mbg class, 28 Days to Yoga Bliss.

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