Summer brings more energy, a renewed spirit and the best of intentions. Many people have health and weight-loss goals to achieve, and they turn to fad diets that leave them feeling deprived and wanting to give up after a couple weeks or days. This year, set yourself up for success with these dietitian-approved tips to jump-start weight loss.
1. MAKE YOUR FOOD BEAUTIFUL
We eat with our eyes as much as we do with our mouths! Instead of throwing veggies into a bowl, plate them with care, cut them in new ways and pick lots of colors. Take that extra step to enjoy the process of eating healthy options.
2. DON’T SKIP MEALS
To jump-start weight loss (and maintain it!), get your hunger in check by choosing satiating meals and snacks every three to four hours. For optimal hunger control, aim to have meals and snacks that contain both protein and fiber–two nutrients that have serious staying power.”
3. MEAL PREP IN ADVANCE
Pre-slice vegetables and fruits, and keep in air-tight containers at eye level in the front of your fridge. They should be the first items you see when you need a quick snack. Having pre-sliced veggies makes it easier to whip up omelets, salads, casseroles and soups. If you feel you pressed for time to slice your own fruits and veggies, most grocery stores sell them pre-sliced from their kitchens. Keep in mind this is more expensive, but the extra cost is worth it if it means you’re more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables!
4. MAKE HEALTHY FOOD VISIBLE
Display fruit on your kitchen countertop, whether it’s in a pretty bowl or on a decorative cake stand. Whenever you want a snack, you’ll see the fruit first and hopefully reach for that.
5. PACK NUTRITIOUS SNACKS
Bring a small snack to work, and eat it 30 minutes before you begin your commute home. This will curb the insatiable hunger, preventing a trip through the drive-thru. It will also make dinner preparation or last-minute stops at the grocery store so much more bearable! My favorite options are almonds or a Greek yogurt.
6. DO WEEKLY WEIGHT CHECKS
Once you start making changes, you are probably agitated to see the numbers go down quick, but obsessing with the scale on a daily basis won’t help. Instead, it’s better to give it a week–the rule of thumb is to weigh yourself every week using the same scale, preferably in the morning.
7. POWER UP BREAKFAST WITH PROTEIN
Make sure to enjoy a balanced breakfast packed with protein. It will help to keep your energy levels up all morning and may also help you snack less later in the day.”
8. PILE PLANTS ON YOUR PLATE
Focus on eating more plants. Crowd out your plate by packing in as much produce as you can. You’ll feel fuller, and you’ll be practicing portion control without even thinking about it.
9. EAT YOUR VEGGIES FIRST
Veggies fill you up not out!
10. DRINK MORE WATER
Our bodies need lots of water to keep our energy levels up, undergo regular digestion, etc. Drinking water before meals may also help to curb hunger and keep you satisfied before, after or during a meal.
11. KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL
Our minds are always busy, so it’s easy to underestimate the amount of food consumed. Tracking your food with a journal or mobile app can make you more aware. Be as specific as possible, tracking type of food, amount, time, place, hunger level and emotions surrounding eating. Not only can developing a food-tracking habit make you more aware of portion sizes and eating patterns (e.g., overeating at night, skipping breakfast), it can help detect mindless or emotional eating.
12. EAT A PROTEIN- AND FIBER-RICH BREAKFAST
When my waistband is fitting a little tighter than I’d like, one of the first places I start shaping up is at breakfast. Rather than focusing on “lightening” breakfast with fewer calories, I make sure to pump up the protein and fiber at my morning meal. That usually means adding an egg white-and-veggie omelet or hard-boiled eggs with fruit, plus a small fiber-rich muffin or small bowl of oatmeal. What I eat in the morning not only sets my hunger level but also sets the tone for how I’ll eat throughout the day.
13. DON’T DEPRIVE YOURSELF
Allow yourself to have a treat from time to time! If you deprive yourself, chances are that over time you will give in and binge. Instead give yourself a set number of times (maybe two to three times) per week where you can treat yourself without feeling guilty.
14. PLAN TO EAT AT HOME
It’s no secret that home-cooked meals typically have smaller portions and contain less sodium and fat than eating out. I think packing homemade lunches and eating at home for dinner makes a big difference in my clients’ long-term weight-loss success. Ideally you should eat 90% of your meals at home; in a week, that allows for three meals out. Plan your meals out as an enjoyable event, and aim to eat or pack your lunch the other 18 meals for the week. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
15. EAT WITH INTENTION
Ask yourself if you are really hungry. Think about what you are eating, and, most of all, savor and enjoy it! Being aware is the key to weight loss.
16. MAKE SMALL CHANGES
Think about what small change you can make in your daily routine that will help improve your health. For some, it may be taking the stairs instead of the elevator. For others, it may be opting for water instead of Coke for lunch. Bottom line: Remember, small changes make big differences over time!
17. SLOW DOWN AND USE ALL YOUR SENSE WHEN YOU EAT
Look at your food, smell it, touch it (with your fingers, fork or tip of tongue, depending on what’s appropriate), listen to it (Is it crunchy, mushy or slurpy?) and, of course, taste it. Eating with all your senses involved is an important part of mindful eating.
18. FIND WAYS TO MOVE MORE DURING THE DAY
Aim to get 10-minute increments of exercise at a time; this could be walking around while on the phone, parking in far-away parking spots or taking the stairs. Just find ways to sit less because small changes make a difference, especially if you move to boost energy instead of hitting the candy jar or vending machine.
19. SET A SMALL, REASONABLE GOAL, ONE GOAL AT A TIME
You can easily get discouraged if you can’t reach the big goals you set for yourself. Choose one goal at a time, and once that feels easy and routine, set your sights on a new goal. Slow and steady always wins the race!
20. GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
While you may think that the road to weight loss begins at the gym or in the kitchen, research has shown that it might start in the bedroom. Getting a good night’s sleep (ideally eight hours) helps guide your food choices by controlling your hunger and fullness hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells your brain it is time to eat, but when you lack sleep, your body makes more ghrelin. The reverse is true for leptin, the hormone that cues fullness; sleep deprivation slows down leptin production. These hormonal changes cause you to overeat, resulting in unwanted pounds, so put the phones away, cue the sound machine and plan for six to nine hours of shut-eye.
21. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES
‘One of the fastest ways to jump-start weight loss is to focus on what you can eat instead of what you can’t. Investing all of your energy to stop yourself from eating higher-calorie foods (think: dessert) can leave you feeling drained and deprived. Instead, focus on drinking at least two quarts of cold water and eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This naturally leaves less room for higher-calorie foods, and every time you are successful, it will leave you with a positive feeling of accomplishment.
Instead of creating unrealistic goals this summer, jump-start your weight loss with these tried-and-true tips from the nutrition experts.