Studies show that roughly 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February. If you’re hoping to lose weight this year, these strategies can help keep you on track to your goals.
1. Create realistic goals
One of the most critical steps in implementing lifestyle changes for the long term is to make sure they are realistic and achievable. You’re not going to be successful if you put more on your plate than you can handle.
You may be familiar with the acronym SMART in relation to goal setting. SMART goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. An example of a SMART goal would be to lose one pound per week or about four pounds per month. For most individuals, this would be a realistic goal that is easy to track and measure.
If you want to jump from a size 12 to a 6 in a month, that’s obviously not realistic nor possible by safe means of weight loss. Remember to be patient and appreciate the small victories along the way.
2. Track your progress with an app
Nowadays, there are so many great weight loss and fitness apps available to keep you organized and on target with your goals.
Noom - Voted number one on Insider.com, this program focuses on lifestyle changes rather than just dieting. Noom offers educational lessons, support groups, coaching, and tools for tracking your food intake and exercise.
Weight Watchers - Their new PersonalPoints system is more advanced than ever and takes into account how added sugars, saturated fats, and fiber affect your body. You can use the app to make a weekly meal plan, track your weight, review progress reports, and set upcoming goals.
My Fitness Pal - This app allows you to track calories and macronutrients, set goals, and access healthy recipes and workout routines.
Lose it! - Calorie counting is the major focus of this app. Create personalized weight loss plans based on your calorie needs, and use the app to stay on track.
3. Find a support group
Keeping yourself motivated throughout your weight loss journey can be the most difficult part. Don’t go at it alone. Whether it’s in person, online, or through the Noom app, it can be incredibly helpful to find support from someone in a similar position.
You can share tips, call each other before indulging in an unhealthy craving and relate to common struggles. Weight loss is not always a linear path, and sometimes you need a push to continue in the right direction.
4. Meal Plan for the Week
A common roadblock to your weight loss goals is a lack of meal planning. It’s so easy to jeopardize your success by giving into convenience meals, fast foods, or packaged snacks when you need food in a hurry.
If you generally have a busy work week, it may be helpful to plan the meals for the week over the weekend. Even better, you could meal prep. Try roasting a few types of vegetables, boiling a variety of grains, such as quinoa, rice, and barley, and cooking a few types of protein, like salmon, chicken, and tofu. Also, keep in mind ways to repurpose leftovers.
A Monday night burrito could definitely be a Tuesday night stew. Devoting a few hours every week to meal planning and food prep can be an effective way to streamline your week and keep your calorie intake controlled.
5. Try a Meal Kit Service
For those of you that don’t want to cook or plan meals, there are plenty of alternatives. Healthy meal kit services take all the stress and effort out of meal planning.
Diet-To-Go - This ready-to-eat meal service offers calorie-controlled, balanced meals that are lower in sodium, fat, carbs, and cholesterol. They also cater to vegetarians.
Nutrisystem - They offer over 150 meal options with plans available for vegetarians and individuals with diabetes. Your whole day will be covered from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to snacks.
Factor - This meal kit service mainly has lunch and dinner options, but there are a few breakfast choices, as well. Factor was created for those following a keto, vegetarian or vegan diet or individuals just looking to cut calories.
Gobble - This meal kit option is great for people that like to cook but are short on time for planning and grocery shopping. Gobble has you covered from breakfast through dinner and even dessert. Their “Lean and Clean” menu options are grain-free, under 600 calories, and include lean proteins and healthy fats.
6. Start the Day off Right
You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This opinion is up for debate, but there is likely a benefit from starting the day off on the right foot.
A number of studies show a link between breakfast consumption and a lower risk for obesity and weight gain. Eating breakfast may even reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
If you choose a nutritionally balanced breakfast with a good source of protein, you’ll be even more well-positioned to maintain your eating schedule and stay on track throughout the day.
7. Stay Active
Exercise may play an important role in your weight loss journey. Evidence suggests that the majority of weight loss is associated with reduced calorie intake. However, it is also proven that regular physical activity is vital to maintaining weight loss.
Everyone has individualized needs, but a good baseline recommendation is 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity to maintain weight. If you’re much more active, that’s great, but if you’re physically limited, make sure you consult a health care professional for advice on what type of activity (if any) is most suitable for you.
Some examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, light yard work, playing with children, biking, and light snow shoveling. Keep in mind everyday activities and chores can be considered exercise. If you still are having trouble meeting the 150 minutes of recommended activity per week, don’t fret. Remember to set achievable goals that work with your schedule.
8. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating refers to conscious awareness through all of your senses while eating. Take notice to the taste, texture, aroma, and sound while you eat. The purpose of mindful eating is to pay attention to the entire experience and savor the moment. Although the intention is not to count calories or lose weight, those that practice mindful eating are likely to lose weight.
The practice of mindfulness allows individuals to appreciate the process of eating without being concerned about restricting intake. This practice can help you eat slowly, feel more satisfied, and ultimately avoid overeating. If you adopt mindful eating as a long-term lifestyle change, it can be a powerful tool to help you lose weight and keep it off.
9. Remember to Treat Yourself
Everyone needs a little indulgence sometimes. Being regimented 24/7 with your weight loss plan may not be realistic. Sometimes, one bad night of overindulgence and guilt will lead to someone giving up entirely on their weight loss journey.
This all-or-nothing mentality isn’t productive in forming long-term lifestyle changes. There are ways to treat yourself in a controlled manner while still staying on track to reach your goals. Perhaps for you, this could mean indulging in an ice cream cone every Friday or having a cheat day during the holidays. Dieting doesn’t have to mean excluding certain foods from your diet completely. You just need to learn the right level of moderation.
10. Don’t Give Up if You Get off Track
Along the same vein as remembering to treat yourself, it’s also important to not get completely discouraged if you veer off course. You’re all human. You’re bound to overindulge one day or even have a bad week or month. Try to accept that sometimes, that’s okay.
Don’t let a bad day get in the way of your goals. Remind yourself why it’s important to lose weight and use the other tools and resources available to you to get back on course. This may be a good time to reach out to a member of your support group or start using a fitness app again.
If meal prep isn’t working for you, it may be time to invest in a meal-delivery kit, such as Noom or Diet-To-Go. Perhaps a new workout routine could give you a boost of motivation, or maybe you’re ready to give mindful eating a try. Circle back to your goals. Are they SMART?
Despite the statistics, this year can be different. With the right mindset and tools at your disposal, your weight loss goals can be within reach. Take it one day at a time, find out what works best for you, and remember it’s all about balance.