If your primary goal is weight loss, and you feel like you're consistently hitting your head against a wall to get there, I hear you. There are many people out there who feel the same way. Maybe you have tried every diet in the books: weight watchers, keto, Atkins, carnivore, vegan, etc.
Or maybe you are just getting started and feel lost in a sea of information, wondering where to go to get a straight answer about what to do.
Either way, here are the main things you SHOULD focus on for successful weight loss. I like to call them secrets, but they really aren't a secret at all. They are the basic foundation that will create success in your weight loss journey and, coincidentally, they are the same fundamental principles that almost every name brand 'diet' out there is founded on. So skip the confusion and start implementing the following rules to start seeing real, lasting results in your weight loss journey.
The First Secret: Control Portion Sizes
Not too long ago, a standard cup of coffee with whole milk and sugar measured in at 8 ounces and 45 calories (yes, including the cream and sugar). Today, many java junkies have replaced that cup with a 16-ounce Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks, or the equivalent at their favorite java hub, which weighs in at a startling 380 calories (starbucks.com). To burn all those extra calories, most would have to walk at an incline, with resistance, for at least one hour (for most people it would be longer). Successful weight “losers” don't always eat a diet null of any far, sugar, or processed foods, but they do typically control portion sizes. In fact, research suggests portion control is the greatest predictor of successful weight loss. That's right. Not exercise habits, not workout intensity, not even food choices. Control portions by learning to read nutrition labels; take the time to measure a true serving; eat only a single helping; use smaller serving dishes; and resist the urge to “clean the plate.”
The Second Secret: Be Mindful
Many people turn to food when they are bored or stressed out. Eating when you are hungry, and stopping when you are full is actually a skill, and it's one that most of us could use some practice in. Start by paying attention when you eat. Ask yourself why you are heading to the fridge or pantry. Are you truly hungry, or are you really just bored, stressed, sad, tired and maybe even full from your last meal or snack! Emotional eating can wreak havoc on a well-planned weight management program, yet it happens all the time.
The Third Secret: Exercise
Fitness is key in losing weight and keeping those pounds off. More than 94% of participants who succeeded in their goals in the National Weight Control Registry increased their rate of physical activity (NWCR 2007). And that doesn't always mean you have to have the time to hit the weights or stumble it out next to the ex-hip-hop phenomenon in Zumba class. In fact, many who lost weight reported simply walking for at least 1 hour per day. And for those who kept the weight off, exercise was also crucial. This was evident because the registry participants who dropped out of fitness programs ended putting the pounds back on (NWCR 2007). Remember, as people lose weight, a proportion of each pound comes from muscle; that, in turn , slows down the metabolism and makes it difficult to keep the weight of. Although walking and other cardiovascular exercise is important for burning calories, be sure to engage in a resistance training program to help preserve lean tissue and keep the metabolic rate up.
The Fourth Secret: Check the Scale
In recent years, there has been a movement created around 'ditching the scale' in an effort to help people become more body confident despite what the number on the scale says. While it's important not to become too obsessive about weight to the nearest 0.01 pound, people who maintain their weight loss do so by keeping periodic tabs on the scale, weighing themselves at least once per week. By weighing yourself a couple of times per week, you will be able to note small weight increases in time to take appropriate corrective action (NWCR 2007).
The Fifth Secret: Modify Your Meal Schedule
There have been many studies released over the years indicating that those who eat breakfast regularly are most successful at losing weight. But there have also been studies proving that weight loss can occur even for those who never eat breakfast. So which is better? The one that will encourage you to keep your overall intake in check. Those who ate breakfast regularly had the tendency to eat less throughout the rest of the day, meaning increased adherence to a caloric deficit. While others may prefer not to eat in the earlier parts of the day due to low levels of hunger, but eat later in the day when food becomes more enticing. Whichever you prefer, be sure to eat the appropriate amount of calories for your body and goals, and you can be successful in either camp.
The Sixth Secret: Log It
One of the strongest predictors of successful and maintained lifestyle change is monitoring dietary intake. While it can be tedious to keep a daily food log, research has shown that this practice is a highly effective and proven strategy when it comes to weight loss. Even if you don't keep a log every single day, checking back in by weighing and logging your entire day's worth of food a few times a week ensures that you are being honest with yourself about your intake, and you are able to recognize when and where you are piling on the extra calories