We’re coming to the end of February and sticking to those new year’s resolutions to be healthier and loose a few pounds are becoming increasingly harder to hold on to. Well we’re here to help and have put together a few tips that may be the key to sticking to those goals.
The formula for weight loss sounds simple and straightforward enough – create an energy (or calorie) deficit by expending more energy than you are taking in… except that when theory is put into practice and we are trying to implement this into our everyday lives (and very busy schedules!) it gets somewhat complicated and frustrating – the seemingly easier option being just to give up.
However, by implementing a few of the below strategies you can give your new year’s resolution a decent chance at success this year.
- Consider it a lifestyle not a diet – choose a healthier way of eating that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. The key to weigh loss and keeping that weight off is the longevity of your eating plan. So, if you can barely keep to your new diet from Monday to Friday it may be time to reconsider your eating plan.
- Eat plenty of fruit and veg – Fruit and veg are low in calories and highly nutritious– you can really fill up on them as even a large amount tends to have a comparatively low caloric price tag. Be creative and for example add them to your sandwiches – turning an ordinary ham and cheese into something much more exciting by adding lettuce, tomato and grated carrot!
- Choose activities you enjoy – there’s little point is punishing yourself with a 5k run if you absolutely hate running. Being active is key to losing weight and keeping it off so it is crucial that you choose something that takes minimal motivation to get you out and doing it.
- Drink plenty of water – Thirst can sometimes feel like hunger. Try drinking a glass of water before eating anything. This can prevent you from eating in between meals when all your body needed was water. Try to always carry a bottle of water with you when you are out and about.
- Read food labels – Knowing how to read food labels can help you choose healthier options. Find out more about how to do this here.
- Use a smaller plate – Doing so can help you eat smaller portions. By using smaller plates and bowls, you may be able to gradually get used to eating smaller portions. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to register that you have eaten enough, so eat slowly and stop eating when you feel about 80% full.
- Don’t stock junk food – To avoid temptation, try to not stock junk food – such as chocolate, biscuits, crisps and sweet fizzy drinks – at home. Instead, opt for healthy snacks, such as fruit, unsalted rice cakes, oat cakes, unsalted or unsweetened popcorn, and fruit juice.
- Cut down on alcohol –Alcohol is rich in calories and poor in nutritional value. Over time, drinking too much can easily contribute to weight gain.
- Plan your meals – Choose a designated day each week (i.e. Sunday afternoon) to plan your meals and snacks for the week. You could even shop for and prepare a few meals in advance to be kept in the fridge or freezer – this eliminates having to make food choices when you are out and about or too rushed to cook.
- Delayed gratification – If you genuinely crave a specific treat, instead of denying yourself this try promising yourself that you can have it at a future time for example on Friday evening or after you have worked out or after you have had a healthy meal. By saying yes but delaying your indulgence you may find that you are less likely to still crave it when that time comes and therefore less likely to cheat. If, however you still crave it then go ahead and fully enjoy your treat!
- 80/20 – Remember the 80/20 “rule”. One of the biggest reasons diets fail is an “all or nothing “mentality. No one can stick to a strict diet 100% of the time. If you can manage to stick to it 80% of the time, then you are still making a huge difference to your previous unhealthy eating habits. Mark a calendar with a star or smiley face for every day that you have stuck to your healthy eating plan. Remember one biscuit will not ruin a whole day of eating well and one meal will not ruin a whole week. The important thing is to get straight back on the wagon and carry on as if nothing’s happened. If you have more stars or smiley faces on the calendar than empty spaces or sad faces by then of the month, then you are making progress.
- Set achievable goals – A big weight loss goal may feel overwhelming and unachievable. Feeling daunted by it may be the reason someone could give up on their new healthy eating and exercise plan early. Try breaking it down to smaller goals and simply focussing on each small goal at a time. For example, break a 20lb goal up into 4 goals of 5lb, as you achieve your smaller goals overtime they will add up to the larger one but with the added benefit of a sense of success and increased motivation.
- Non-Scale-Victories (NSV) – celebrate and reward yourself for victories or goals achieved that may not be pounds lost on the scale. This could be things like making it to the gym five days this week or that you can now walk up 3 flights of stairs with ease or that you stuck to all your eating goals for the whole week or even that you now fit into those jeans that were tight last month. These are all significant goals to have achieved and worthy of celebration. Just because the scale didn’t move does not mean you are not making progress.
Sources used: NHS Choices