It’s that time of year again. The first days of a new year. A fresh start. . . A new beginning. . . Who doesn’t want a chance at being thin again? And with all those sweets we just consumed between October and December, the majority of us could use a reset button.
But before you get all gung-ho about a new weight-loss program, stop and think a minute. How many times have you done this only to fail or have the weight bounce right back? Maybe, just maybe, there’s a better way.
Perhaps instead of throwing yourself into an unrealistic lifestyle of restrictive dieting and intense daily exercise, you could simply adopt more sustainable, healthy diet and exercise habits for the long-term.
I’ve been around long enough to realize the hard way that 800 calories from a protein shake and a HIIT workout aren’t going to give you lasting results. Following are 38 of the tricks I’ve learned over the years for maintaining a healthy weight into the new year.
Cut Out Refined Sugars
This is a big one. Did you realize that there are 4 calories in every gram of sugar, and not one of those calories have any nutritional benefit? Unless you count temporary energy that later leads to a crash. Yet, the average American consumes more than 70 grams or nearly 300 calories of it each and every day!
The safest calorie-free sweetener option is Stevia, but becoming accustomed to sprinkling a little in everything can lead to an increased sweet tooth. Here are 15 healthy foods that can help satisfy those sugar cravings.
If you are looking to decrease your reliance on sugar, 30 days of commitment to the Whole 30 reset diet is an excellent place to start!
Learn to Prepare REAL Food
Processed foods are a real problem in this busy, get-fed-quick and easy society. They tend to contain a lot of added sugars and other calorie-ridden additives that also make us fat through their lack of substance. Because these foods are often lower in fiber, it makes it easier to consume them in mass-quantity.
If you find it a struggle to find the time to do the meal planning involved in preparing healthy meals for your family, you might consider giving Platejoy a try. Platejoy allows you to customize your family’s meals based on special diets, weight-loss goals, ingredients on hand, etc. They will even send your grocery list to Instantcart.com (a grocery delivery service), taking almost all of the work out of the process.
Besides allowing me to prepare low-calorie plant-based meals without much thought, I have been able to save at least two hours weekly since signing up this past year. More time for exercise! *Use my code GOGREEN10 for a discount when signing up
When you purchase your foods from local family farms, you are much more likely to be bringing home real, unprocessed foods, free from additives, preservatives and pesticides. Pesticides also act as obesogens, encouraging the body to put on extra weight.
Avoid Diet Foods
Dieters may be drawn in by products labeled low-calorie, diet, sugar-free, fat-free and other misleading labels. The problem with these products is that they typically substitute sugar or other unhealthy additives that lead to weight gain. Here is a list of “health” foods to avoid.
Starting your day with a juice prepared by a masticating juicer can contribute to weight loss. This is especially true when you are juicing vegetables like celery. Follow this link for a 7-day juice cleanse.
Be “In the Know” When Dining Out
Eating out can be very challenging when you are trying to lose weight since so many of the options are extremely processed and loaded with additives. Feeling clueless? Here is a list of popular food chains that offer healthier menus. Or use these clever tips as your guide.
Designate a Meal Prep Day
One of the best methods to set you up for healthy eating success is to be prepared. If the only readily available options in your kitchen are junk food, it will be hard to motivate yourself to take the time to prepare something healthier when hunger arises.
Try to designate one less busy day of the week for chopping veggies, cooking chicken, etc.
Remember to opt for the glass or stainless steel containers in order to avoid the obesogen chemicals found in plastics, especially when heat is involved.
Read this post for more information on how to avoid plastic exposure.
Prepare Healthy Freezer Meals
If you prefer to be really seriously prepared, try cooking several meals in bulk and then freezing them for later use. This can really come in handy for those days you just don’t feel like cooking. https://www.eatthis.com/freezer-meals/These meal ideas are SO much better for your body than takeout.
Filter Your Water
It may seem as if water should be the least weight-inducing substance we consume. However, pesticides such as atrazine that run off into our sources of drinking water, have been found to encourage abdominal obesity in rats.
I personally love my Big Berkey for filtering out 99% of pesticides and a long list of other contaminants.
Have Healthy Snacks on Hand
When the munchies hit, it’s super important to have a stash of naturally low-cal snacks on hand to prevent overindulging. Check out this list for inspiration
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Coffee, tea, wine and water are pretty much the only beverages I consume. I just prefer to save my calories for the food. That said, I know how hard that can be for those of you who crave sugary beverages. If you are one of those people, give these soda alternatives a shot.
Eat a Plant-based Diet
Since the majority of calories in meals tend to come from the meat and dairy, switching to a plant-based diet can give your weight-loss pace a real boost.
Food labels are very revealing and so important to read. Sweeteners, preservatives, coloring . . . nothing can hide behind the package anymore.
Here are the 56 different names for sugar as presented on food labels. Sneaky!
Include Healthy Fats
Contrary to popular belief, certain fatty foods can actually increase your chances of losing weight. That’s because these foods are more filling, so you don’t have to eat as often. Here is a list of healthy fats to keep you full.
Fill up on Protein
Proteins, both meat and plant-based, are another nutrient that can keep you full longer. Besides, reducing your appetite, protein will also boost your metabolism.
Keep Eating Interesting
If you let your diet get boring, you’re much more likely to revert back to old eating habits. Keep it fun and fresh by following these eating tips.
Learn to Make Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Treats
Don’t feel like you need to deprive yourself of your favorite treats. If you do, you will only end up caving during a weak moment. Simply google “healthy version of ________, ” and you can keep that recipe around for occasional cravings.
Practice Mindful Eating
There are so many reasons besides hunger that can cause a person to pick up a fork. Boredom, stress, sadness, anxiety . . . I am guilty of reacting to all of these emotions with overeating and/or poor food choices at one time or another.
Becoming aware of what drives us to eat can allow us to consciously choose an alternative coping mechanism.
Put together a list of activities you can do instead of eating when you really shouldn’t be. Check out this list to get you started
Fill Yourself Up
Some people tend to eat mindlessly or poorly when their emotional tank is empty. That is, the kids, life stressors, etc, have you feeling drained. That’s why it’s so important to include opportunities for self-care in your daily life.
It can be as simple as 5 minutes of meditation music on YouTube, a walk around the block or coffee with a friend. Use it to start your day, save it for breaks, do it in the evening, or sprinkle it in throughout the day.
Look for USDA-certified organic produce. The pesticides found on fruits and vegetables have been linked to weight gain.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Jump on the latest weight-loss trend, intermittent fasting! There truly is science to back it up. Basically, by giving your body a pause in between meals, your body gains time to burn additional fat before breaking your fast.
Learn all about how to practice and the many other health benefits involved, here.
Increase Your Water Intake
Drinking a glass of water before meals can help you feel fuller faster. It also increases your rate of calorie burn during a workout. Not sure how much water you should be drinking? Use this water intake calculator to figure it out.
Adopt a Positive Mindset
Attitude is everything! If you go into this with negative messages swirling around due to past failures, you’re defeating yourself before you even leave the starting gate. Instead, try posting weight-loss affirmations where you can see them, or listen to a motivational health & fitness podcast.
You can also visualize yourself at your goal weight. Or try one of these other great ideas for setting a mode for success.
Find a Movement Plan that Works for You
There is no one fitness activity that everyone will be happy with. For some, power yoga is the key to calorie-burning, but for others crossfit is the way to go. Biking, jogging and swimming are other excellent exercises for maximum weight-loss.
Technically, it is best to change it up, since your body will get used to something and stop burning as efficiently. Take this quiz to learn which fitness activity best suits your personality–and no, it won’t be couch surfing 😉
Watch your Refined Carbs Intake
We already touched on the issue of refined sugars, but refined grain intake can also inhibit weight loss. Refined grains are those made from white flour. They have been stripped of all fiber, vitamins and minerals; therefore making them empty calories. These empty foods also spike the blood sugar.
Beware of Sugary Coffee Drinks
Partaking in fancy coffee drinks filled with flavored syrups, creamers and whipped creams; is a popular American pastime. The problem is that all of those flavorings add up to a heavy calorie intake. Try brewing your own with a little vanilla almond milk, stevia and cinnamon instead. Or simply opt for a flavored tea.
Track Your Calories
This is a time-consuming activity, but I find it to be helpful from time-to-time, just to get my eating back on track. I only track it for a day or two myself. Here are six calorie-tracking apps to choose from.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting sufficient sleep is key to a healthy metabolism. Make time for at least 7 hours of Zzzzs. And if you struggle to get a good night’s sleep once you hit the pillow, try adding a magnesium supplement. You could also take an epsom salt bath or try some melatonin temporarily. Here are some tips on setting up your night for sleep.
Increase Your Fiber
Fiber is filling, so make sure there is enough of it in your diet. Stick to the viscous, soluble fibers that comes from plant-based sources, however; or you are likely to see weight gain rather than weight loss.
Figure Out Your “Why”
Sometimes it feels like all our attempts at losing weight fail, and we just can’t figure out why. In that case, it may be a good idea to consult a therapist or coach who can help get to the bottom of things.
Don’t Become a Scale Addict
Weight fluctuates constantly, so it can be really discouraging and counterproductive to step on the scale every day. Try to avoid it for a week in between weighings, at the very least.
I have found that building muscle mass through weight lifting has been one of the most effective ways to get in shape. It’s a proven fact that muscle burns fat and makes us strong and lean. That’s much more attractive than those rolls and that beer belly 😉
Just don’t be disappointed if you notice improvements, but not on the scale. Muscle weighs more than fat; but it looks better, so so be it.
Try HIIT Workouts
High-intensity interval training has become popular in recent years due to it’s increased ability to burn fat. For this workout, you do brief spurts of intense exercise and then rest briefly repeating multiple times with a variety of exercises. Personally I love the hiit workouts put together by Pop Sugar Fitness.
Hire a Personal Trainer
My husband and I broke down and hired a personal trainer at the YMCA we belong to, just a few months ago. We’ve already seen so much improvement in the way our bodies look. The trainers at the Y are very reasonable in cost, too.
Be Prepared for Setbacks
As with any goal, some days will go better than others. When you slip up with your food or movement, don’t beat yourself up. And don’t give up. Tomorrow is another day, so back away from those cupcakes!
Keep a Healthy Lifestyle Journal
Sometimes the puzzle doesn’t fit together until we have it in front of our face. You may be someone who benefits from writing your daily exercise and food intake down in a journal.
Find a Support System
For some of us, including myself, accountability is everything. Find a buddy to workout with, or go one of these routes to find your people.
Interested in accessing my vault of green mama information? Sign up here!