There’s one universal truth about losing weight: it isn’t easy. But it can be done, it’s not about dieting! Here’s what really works in 12 easy steps:
Table of Contents
Step 1 – Prep your brain
Your attitude is just as important to your success as how you eat and exercise. Ask yourself, what’s your motivation to lose weight? Is it ‘bikini season’? If so, rethink things. Once people reach a short-term goal like that, then they tend to go back to their old habits and regain the weight. Instead, focus on several small steps – like exercising three times a week or eating breakfast every day – and long-term goal, such as ‘I want to feel and look healthy’. The small victories will keep you motivated while you give yourself the time you need to reach your ultimate goal. Next, ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. No one gains a stone in three weeks, so why would you expect to shed that amount that fast? Expecting more dramatic weight loss only set you up for discouragement and failure. Finally, review your past mistakes. Think of all the diets you’ve tried and what happened.
Step 2 – Calculate your ideal weight
Step on the scales and calculate your body mass index (BMI). Remember, not all of us are born to weigh 8st. The numbers carry a huge stigma for most people. Buy weighing yourself is a tool to assess your progress – not a commentary on your willpower or self-worth. Weigh yourself when you start trying to shape up and once a week thereafter.
Step 3 – Keep a diary
Write down everything you eat, including how much you had, the time you ate it and how you were feeling. This is a real eye-opener for people who think they eat healthily but can’t lose weight. Some realize they’re eating because they’re bored, stressed or hungry; others are munching out of habit.
Step 4 – Look at what you eat
Forget Atkins or the Zone – create the ‘Lucy diet’, or whatever your name is. That’s the one YOU stick to. That means creating a menu filled with fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats you like – and forgetting the stuff you don’t. Make healthy substitutions when you can – swap whole milk for semi-skimmed, and replace sugary cereals with high-fiber ones. Think about what kind of eater you are, too. If you graze all day, it may be best to cut out snacks and have three meals a day. But if you tend to overeat at dinner, you may need an afternoon snack.
Step 5 – Learn how much to eat
Most people don’t know what a serving size is. They think they’re eating 1,500 calories a day when they’re actually closer to 2,500. In this supersize world you really can’t guess, so experts recommending measuring portions of food for a few weeks for a reality check. In general, a serving of meat is three ounces; one serving of fruit or veg is a cup (for leafy greens, two cups); and a serving of grains, such as rice or pasta, is half a cup.
Step 6 – Teach yourself when to stop
Spend at least 15 minutes on every meal. Take moderate bites, chew them completely and pause between mouthfuls to see how full you are. Give your stomach a chance to tell your brain it’s had enough.
Step 7 – Eat breakfast
People don’t eat in the morning because they think they’ll save calories. But breakfast prevents you from becoming ravenous and making bad food choices as a result. Plus, if you don’t eat within two hours of waking up, your metabolism slows to conserve energy. A good option? A veggie-filled omelet, a piece of fruit, half a cup of low-fat yogurt and two slices of wholewheat toast. The protein and fat keep you feeling full because they take a long time to digest, and the carbs energize you.
Step 8 – Beware of your drinks
Some people get even 800 calories a day from fizzy drinks. that soon adds up. Alcohol is another no-no – at least for the first few weeks of healthy eating.
Step 9 – Get active
Start slowly. Work out for 10-20 minutes three times a week, then tack on five minutes every week. Work up to 45-60 minutes of biking, speed-walking, running, aerobics or another cardiovascular exercise five to seven days a week for peak weight loss. Once your cardio becomes routine, add two 20-minutes sessions of strength training (weights ) per week.
Step 10 – Don’t stop eating
When people start to see weight loss, many are tempted to speed things up by cutting even more calories or skipping meals. But that can send into starvation mode. Your body will cling to food, and your metabolism can slow by 20%. Have dessert once in a while, too. Avoiding all things sweet (or salty) only leads to binges and burnout. No food should be completely off limits.
Step 11 – Be forgiving
So you had a slice of cake. And it was huge. Instead of being angry with yourself, just start being good again immediately. Women often think, ‘I’ve blown it – I’ll start again tomorrow’. But you need to get back on track with the next meal, not the next day. the extra calories you ate will barely make a dent in your weight – if that’s where it ends.
Step 12 – Keep at it
Women who lose weight and stay slim are the ones who continue to exercise regularly for a long time after they’ve shed the pound, research shows. Successful slimmers also say that occasionally return to the tricks that got them there: portion control and using a food diary. From time to time, all of us need these tools to get through a stressful period or buffet-filled holiday. And because these techniques aren’t punishing fad or gimmick, they can just help when you need it. These are good habits you should keep for life.