For those struggling with weight loss and feeling uncertain about where to begin, there are numerous valuable guidelines to help.
Adhering to these tried-and-true weight loss strategies can provide a helpful push and yield significant outcomes within a relatively short amount of time.
1. Replace side dishes with steamed vegetables.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why adding vegetables to your diet will help you not only lose weight, but it will provide your body with tons of nutrients. It’s easy to make side dish swaps for veggies when you’re at home, but it’s tougher when you’re out and about.
The good news is restaurants will often allow you to substitute the fries or chips with steamed veggies. Usually without an up charge too. All you have to do is ask. Nicely.
2. Bake, don’t fry.
You’ll save calories and lower your risk of heart disease. When we fry things, we’re dipping our foods in tremendous amounts of oil that latch onto whatever we’re making, adding not just calories, but unhealthy fats to it. Baking just uses heat, and adding oil is a choice, not a necessity, to the cooking process. Or try an air fryer—you can even make just about anything in it.
You can also use the fat-burner in your backyard: the grill, which offers plenty of flavor without the need for frying. (Find the best grill gear here.)
No, really. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found those who laughed hard for approximately 10 to 15 minutes each day burned an additional 10 to 40 calories a day. On top of that, laughing has so many other mental health benefits.
So, ward off the extra pounds and depression by putting on your favorite comedy flick tonight.
4. Bump down your portions.
If you’re feeling like a change in diet isn’t for you, maybe a change in portion size is. It’s possible to lose weight just by changing how much you eat, but not changing what you eat.
This means opting for an entree instead of an entree and an appetizer. Avoid buffets and try to leave something on your plate at the end of the meal. Consider splitting a meal with your dinner companion, or skip dessert. There are so many ways to cut down how much you eat, without having to cut out some of your favorite foods.
5. Don’t socialize around the food at parties or picnics.
Social influence can be both good and bad for your weight loss journey. When it comes to going to social events, the temptation is high. You’re more likely to munch mindlessly, even though you may not be hungry. So take a step away, and hang out on the other side of the room.
Or, if you’re really feeling dedicated, try to eat BEFORE you head to the event. You’re more likely to choice a healthy meal at home, and you’ll avoid making bad snacking decisions at the event if you’re already full.
6. Take on the weight loss journey with a friend.
Like we said— social influence can be good too. If you commit to losing a few pounds with a friend, you’re more likely to keep going. Accountability is key with lifestyle changes.
Try to convince a spouse to do it with you. If you grocery shop together, and eat a fair amount of meals together, you’ll have a partner in crime to make only good decisions.
7. If you have a dog, take him for a daily walk.
Steps, steps, steps. It’s all about adding to your step count to help those activity metrics. A daily doggo walk is better for both him and you than just letting him out the back. Plus, he’ll love you even more.
If you don’t have a pet, offer to walk a neighbor’s dog (or take this as your excuse to rescue one. You’re welcome.).
8. Decrease your food intake by 100 calories per day.
Theoretically this translates to losing nearly 1 pound per month (1 lb = 3500 calories)—with hardly any effort. And, when you think about how 100 calories is only about 14 almonds or one apple, it makes the amount more fathomable. Pro tip: using smaller plates and bowls is scientifically proven to help you eat less, since it makes less food seems like more.
Similarly, eating slower can cut out extra calories since it takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes for your stomach to sense it’s full.
9. When possible, walk or bike to do your errands.
Have we mentioned the benefits of getting your steps in yet? Yes? Well, here’s another reminder.
If you’re lucky enough to live close to your pharmacy, grocery store, or hardware store, take advantage and walk or bike. You’ll get fresh air, burn a few calories and get your heart rate up. Buy a pedometer, or track it on your smart watch, and aim for at least 10,000 steps each day.
10. Plan ahead.
A majority of these tips will require a plan. Plan ahead to eat before you go out to a party. Plan ahead to have a meal before you hit the grocery store. Plan ahead to meal prep food that’s baked instead of friend. It all comes back to setting yourself up for success in weight loss, and weight maintenance.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
11. Take “before” pictures.
If you’re looking for some weight loss inspiration, look no further. These transformation photos will have you jumping into the gym before you know it.
Taking photos can be a great way to inspire yourself along your journey. Some days can be discouraging, and it’s helpful too look back on how far you’ve come. You’ll be amazed at the progress you’ve made when you revisit the photos later.
12. Find active friends.
Your pizza, wings, beer and football-on-the-couch-all-day friends are fun for somethings, but not everything.
Research has suggested that friends can enhance (or hurt) success. Join a running club or try out a group fitness class to make some active friends.