If your goal is to lose weight fast and keep it off, forget the gimmick weight loss pills and marathon workouts. Research shows taking simple steps everyday leads to long lasting weight loss results.
According to Lesley Lutes, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at East Carolina University, “When you focus on just a couple of small changes at a time, you begin to ingrain some healthy habits that last for a lifetime, rather than trying an all-or-nothing approach that more often than not fails because it’s too hard to follow.”
Here are 6 simple steps (with proven results) to help you move more, eat less, and look and feel better than ever. Add just one or two a week to your regular routine and you can lose nearly 3 inches off your waistline and be about 10 pounds lighter in a few months. Even better: Once these healthy habits become second nature, they’ll benefit you for a lifetime.
1. Pick up a pen
Mindlessly munching on a bag of chips could result in easily polishing off the whole thing; write down how much you’ve eaten and you’re more likely to practice portion control and lose weight fast. Keeping a food log helps control extra calories in two ways: the combination of plain old reality check (I just ate 30 minutes ago!) and awareness that what you’re putting in your mouth will soon be recorded for posterity. In a recent study, people who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. When they combined it with a moderate diet and exercise plan, they lost an average of 13 pounds in 6 months. Journaling also gives you insight on your eating habits, says Dr. Lutes. Do you skip meals? Eat the same during the week as on the weekend? Binge when you’re feeling stressed? “Knowing your routine helps you figure out what changes are right for you,” she adds.
2. Skip through commercials
Get moving during your favorite TV shows. Skip, dance, go up and down some stairs, run in place—anything that gets your heart rate up so you feel somewhat breathless, says Geralyn Coopersmith, senior national manager at Equinox Fitness. Do it for each 2-minute break (forget the TiVo) during a typical 2-hour TV night and you’ll burn an extra 270 calories a day—which can translate to a 28-pound weight loss in a year.
3. Sign up for e-newsletters
One study from Kaiser Permanente found that people who received weekly e-mails about diet and fitness for 16 weeks substantially increased their levels of physical activity and intake of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables while cutting back on trans and saturated fats. Sign up for Solstice Health’s FREE weekly weight loss newsletter.
4. Walk 5 minutes more
In Dr. Lutes’s pilot study, increasing daily activity levels by just a few minutes at a time helped participants lose weight faster. Eventually, your goal should be to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day (burning off about 120 extra calories daily, or 12½ pounds a year), but it doesn’t have to be all at once.
5. Brown-bag it more
You’ll save thousands of calories (not to mention hundreds of dollars) over the course of a year. Consider this: A premade chicken Caesar wrap from a chain restaurant has 610 calories, more than 40% of which come from fat, as well as 1,440 mg of sodium (more than half the recommended daily amount). Make your own with presliced deli chicken breast on whole wheat bread with light mayo and romaine lettuce for about 230 calories. You’ll cut almost 400 calories and about 520 mg of sodium, which leaves room for a side salad and could still add up to a 28-pound weight loss after a year. “When you make and eat your own food, you not only control the quality and portion sizes but also reduce the amount of sugar, salt, and fat that you’re consuming, which can be significantly higher in restaurant fare,” says Ashley Koff, RD, a nutrition consultant based in Los Angeles.
6. Get technical support
You know exercising with a friend makes you more accountable (nobody wants to leave a pal stranded on a street corner at 6 AM). But your workouts don’t always have to be done face to face. One study found women who had some form of social support, either through in person counseling or an on-line chat group, lost more than 15 pounds over a 9-month period, dropping about 300 calories from their daily diet and walking about a mile more each day than from their starting point.
If you are looking to lose weight fast and keep it off for life, Solstice Health can help. Whether you are looking to join our weight loss program or looking to to work with our Registered Dietitians on improving your diet, Solstice Health can help you achieve your weight loss goals.