There's no one secret technique when it comes to losing or maintaining your weight. I keep dozens of tips in my head that I've collected from friends, dietitians, magazines, and books to help me stay on track and stick to my goals. Here are some of the most effective tips I've learned.
- Focus on What You Can Eat, Not What You Can't - When you're trying to lose weight, many people work on only eating healthy foods, and they say no to cakes, cookies, greasy foods, and the like. With diet restrictions, it's hard not to think about all the foods that are off-limits. Instead of mourning for cheesecake and cheese fries, focus on the foods you can eat. Take a glass-half-full attitude, and revel in all the luscious fruits, savory vegetables, chewy whole grains, and creamy lowfat yogurt and cheese. Although it's true they're healthy for you, they're also deliciously satisfying.
- Bed of Greens Instead of Carbs - Fish, chicken, or meat dishes are usually served on an enormous portion of rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta. To avoid a starchy, buttery side dish, ask that your protein be placed on a bed of greens instead. Think steamed kale, chard, or spinach, or a raw bed of spinach or salad greens. I'm not saying I avoid those carbs altogether, but eating large portions of them makes me feel grossly full. Not only are the greens less filling, but they offer fiber and so many vitamins and minerals. Plus they add an interesting texture and fresh flavor to the main dish.
- Use Measuring Cups Every Time -The best way to make sure you're eating appropriate serving sizes is to be scientific about it. Keep measuring cups and spoons handy when it comes to everything you prepare. Don't just eyeball half a cup of granola or freely pour marinara sauce over your pasta. Chances are you'll overestimate and not even realize you're eating half a cup of almonds instead of a quarter-cup serving. The same goes when you're cooking. Measure out two tablespoons of olive oil instead of just pouring it from the bottle. If you have items that are difficult to measure, such as meat, chicken, or fish, use a food scale instead. You don't have to be anal about it, just be aware.
- Be Consistent With Calories Each Day -You eat really well Monday through Friday, and once the weekend rolls around, you splurge a little (or a lot) to reward yourself for being so good all week. Eating the foods you crave is essential when it comes to eating healthy, but you don't want to overdo it on the weekends, undoing a week's hard work. According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity, those people who ate a consistent amount of calories all seven days of the week were 50 percent more likely to maintain their weight than those who followed strict diets only Monday through Friday. It's best to stick to consuming the same amount of calories each day, and allow yourself a few 100- to 200-calorie treats throughout the week. Then once Saturday comes, you won't feel the need to binge on foods you've missed out on.
- Don't Wait Till You're Famished to Eat - We've all been there. You had to stay late at work for some meeting and by the time you make it home, you're beyond starving. You reach for anything quick you can eat (which is usually not the healthiest thing), and you end up devouring way more calories faster than you would if you were just slightly hungry. In the future, you want to avoid getting to that famished point. Keep snacks at work, in your desk, in your purse, in your gym bag, or in your car. So when you know it'll be a while till mealtime, you can have a little something in your stomach to tide you over.
- Avoid Baggy Clothes - Elastic waist bands, robes, and big shirts are comfy, but they cover up your body and allow you to forget what you look like or what your weight-loss goals are. They also encourage lounging around on the couch for hours. So when you get home from work and want to slip out of your business attire, opt for clothes that are slightly fitted. I'm not saying they have to be skin tight - they can still be comfortable, but not slouchy. Fitted shirts and pants made out of cotton or some other flexible material will give you a sense of your body image so you're not hiding behind your clothes. They may also inspire you to do something active.
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