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This blog is committed to helping you successfully lose weight! This article will give 17 habits that will allow you to successfully weight loss.
1. Count your calories and log them in an electronic food diary
Well, after all, I AM the Food Tracking Momma. This habit helped me lose 70 pounds. And minus serious medical issues, it can work for you also. Take a few minutes after every meal and log your calories. Stay under your recommended calories for the day. This habit teaches you to become accountable for what (and how much) you eat in a day. For more information, please see my post, How I Lost 70 Pounds by Counting Calories.
2. Find accountability friends
Don’t try to do this alone. You need a support system. You need friends on your side to cheer you on (and hold you accountable). We need accountability friends who will lovingly push us to do better. I encourage each of you to join my Facebook group, Losing Weight with Food Tracking. You will find a great support system that will help you learn the habit of healthy and lasting weight loss.
CLICK HERE to subscribe to this blog and let me help you live life more healthy and abundantly (John 10:10). You will receive the FREE eBook LOSING WEIGHT WITH FOOD TRACKING.
3. Set small goals
Sometimes the big picture looks, well… too big. If you have 50 or 80 or 100 pounds to lose, you may feel the goal is too far away. If that is the case, then start with a small, achievable goal. Set a goal to lose 10 pounds. After you achieve it, set another and then another. You can also set small goals that apply to a day or even a meal. Set a goal to log your calories for one whole day. Or set a goal to only eat a 300-calorie breakfast. How about increase the steps on your pedometer by 1,000 steps? Each goal you achieve is one step closer to a healthier lifestyle.
4. Give yourself non-food rewards
When you achieve your goals, don’t reward yourself with food. We are trained from an early age to celebrate with food. This has been done throughout civilization. So, of course our tendency is to cheer ourselves with food. Learn another way to celebrate your goals. If you met your goal to lose 10 or 20 pounds, then go shopping! Celebrate with smaller-sized clothes. Or may I suggest rewarding yourself with an activity? And celebrate your achievement with others. Take a hike. Ride a bike. Go do something you wouldn’t normally do. Rock rappelling anyone?
5. Learn delayed gratification
I think one of the hardest things for a person to achieve is the mastering of delayed gratification. I have a toddler and he has zero ability to delay his wants. As an adult, you must learn to master the ability to overcome urges and learn the self-discipline to delay wants and desires.
As I write this blog, I am keenly aware that I have Christmas cookies prepared for guests that will be over for dinner in the next few days. I want a cookie. But, I only have 491 calories left for dinner tonight. For me, I’m going to delay gratification and not eat the cookie. Oh, this isn’t deprivation. I most certainly will have that cookie. I just choose to wait until the dinner with friends when I can plan out that day’s calories a little bit better.
Delayed gratification will help in many aspects of your life. Spending, drinking, even fasting. Learn to delay gratification and you will learn how to be self-disciplined.
6. Eat slowly
I am the worst person to advise on eating slowly. After working for 10 years as a Firefighter/Medic, I learned to eat my food very fast. But this is a habit I am constantly working to master. The slower I eat, the more time I give my body the ability to register that I am full and can stop eating.
A 2008 study published in the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association,” revealed that when participants consumed their meals slowly, they ate significantly fewer calories and consumed significantly more water than those that ate at a faster rate. Slow down and savor each bite.
7. Don’t skip breakfast
Did you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Dr. Virend Somers, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, analyzed the breakfast habits of about 350 adults. The study found that people who ate breakfast regularly only gained an average of about three pounds over the course of a year. Those who occasionally ate breakfast put on about five pounds, while those who skipped breakfast entirely gained about eight pounds. Maybe breakfast is indeed the most important meal. Grab that oatmeal, add some fruit,and enjoy yourself a healthy breakfast.
8. Drink water
If you follow my blog, you know I don’t advocate drinking calories. It’s hard enough to reduce calories and portions of food. The last thing I want to do is then have a drink and consume another 120 calories. For me, I love a glass of cold water. If you are not a fan of water, please try to learn to drink it. Do it in small steps. Maybe just increase your water to 1 to 2 glasses a day. Slowly build yourself up. Now water is mainly all I drink, and I’m truly refreshed with it. I always have my water bottle with me.
Avoid diet sodas (and sodas all together, for that matter). The medical research on diet sodas is still hazy, but at minimum it’s clear that artificial sweeteners are just that… ARTIFICIAL. Research indicates that artificial sweeteners slow the body’s metabolism. That’s enough to keep me away and I hope I can encourage you to return to the simplicity of a nice big glass of water. You can try adding some lemon for a dash of natural flavor.
9. Weigh yourself weekly
You can’t lose weight if you are not accountable for how much you weigh. Weigh yourself regularly. I have a close friend who has gained weight secondary to some serious health concerns. I know he just started tracking his food intake and following the Food Tracking Momma, so I asked him how much he weighed. He didn’t know because he hadn’t yet weighed himself.
Listen, I get it. Stepping on that scale now means you KNOW and if you know, you can’t be ignorant to the problem. When I was gaining, I also ignored my weight. Commit to weighing yourself once a week. When you know your weight, you can now start making changes to lose weight and become a healthier person. Don’t get discouraged and be patient, it’ll take a couple of weeks for results to really show up.
10. Increase activity
I count calories to lose weight. And certainly, that is a helpful step and a great lifestyle change. But I don’t want to be skinny yet weak and unhealthy. I want to be slim, healthy, and strong. The slim is assisted with decreasing calories. The healthy comes from the food choices I make. And the strong? You guessed it, comes from exercise and activity.
Any increase in activity helps. Park your car further from the front of the store. Walk the stairs instead of taking an elevator. Get on that treadmill (move the laundry first) and do a five-minute walk. Track your steps with either a pedometer or a FitBit. Stand up during commercials. Yes, just stand up. Remember, we are making long-term habit changes. Don’t make changes that you won’t sustain. Start small and then gradually increase your activity.
11. Eat at home
It’s very hard to count calories when you are eating out. Many restaurants today have nutrition listed, but even then, the choices of lower-calorie foods are very limited. If you eat at home and cook your own food, you can control the ingredients, the amount of added fat, and the overall nutrition of the food you eat.
When I eat out, I will usually track the calories BEFORE I order the meal. If a restaurant does not have nutrition (or if the calorie counts are just too high), then I will often order a to-go container when I order my meal. I then simply split my meal in half, knowing that most restaurants serve portions big enough for two people. Better yet, share that big meal with a friend who’s counting calories too! Save money and calories all at the same time!
12. Eat on a plate
Don’t snack out of a bag. It’s almost impossible to control your servings when you are pulling food directly out of the container. When I have a snack, I often serve it in small ramekins. Even if are alone, always serve your food in some type of plate or bowl. This way you can monitor your portions. This also allows you to easily weigh your food on a food scale for easy tracking.
13. Use smaller plates
The size of the dinner plate that came with my serving set is 11 inches in diameter. This is a very large plate. If I fill it up with food, it will be a huge serving. Therefore, I now use a 9-inch plate for my food. You can more easily control portions if you use a smaller plate. And you won’t have a lot of empty space on the plate that will encourage you to try to fill with food.
There is science to support changing to a smaller plate. A study by Brian Wansink from Cornell University and Koert van Ittersum from the Georgia Institute of Technology, discovered that changing from 12–inch plates to 10–inch plates resulted in a 22% decrease in calories.
14. Don’t taboo foods
There’s no question that refined sugar is not healthy, but the moment you tell me I can’t have it, well then, I will start to crave it. Increase your portions of healthy foods and limit the foods that you know are high calorie, high fat, processed and generally unhealthy. Save them for rare occasions. But don’t taboo anything unless there is a medical reason you cannot consume it.
For me, I don’t normally eat desserts. But if I’m at a guest’s house or at a gathering with friends, then I am going to enjoy a dessert. I don’t taboo carbs or sugar or really anything. OK, I taboo diet soda! NO DIET SODAS! But other than that, eat whatever you want but do so in moderation.
15. Go slow
I believe fast weight loss results in fast re-gain. This is because fast weight loss does not address the source of the problem. You didn’t make lifestyle changes. You must change how you approach food in your body and your mind. If you want lasting weight loss, then you need to make lasting changes. Changes such as decreasing your food intake. Weighing yourself. Tracking and logging your calories. Increasing your exercise and activity. This takes time. Be patient. Be willing to lose 1-2 pounds a week.
16. Make healthy choices
Many small choices will lead to a large change towards a healthy lifestyle. Do you like a lot of salt on your food? Then just lessen by one shake. Do you like a bowl of ice cream in the evening? Then lessen it to one scoop. Do you eat toast for every breakfast? Then change it to whole wheat. I could go on and on and on. You get my point. None of those suggestions were big or dramatic. But they will have an accumulative impact on your overall health.
This doesn’t just relate to food. Do you smoke? Smoke 1, 2, or 5 less cigarettes a day. Do you drink alcohol? Lessen it to one drink a day. Speaking of alcohol, did you know that drinking alcohol increases fat uptake and slows metabolism? Evaluate your life and see where you can make small changes to help improve your overall health.
17. Don’t quit
Losing weight isn’t easy. This is a lifestyle change and it will take some time to learn new habits. You will go over calories. You will have failures. That happens. It happens for all of us. Don’t quit tracking and don’t quit counting calories. And you may even have a week or two where you gain a little bit of weight. Don’t quit! Don’t become discouraged. Sometimes the body needs time to adjust to the changes. Just stay the course and believe that a healthier you are worth the effort to lose weight. I suggest you read my post, Don’t Quit- Even When You Are Out of Calories to help keep you motivated.