In today’s marketplace, hundreds of weight loss gimmicks and deprivation diets clamor for your attention promising lightning-fast weight loss. Unfortunately, most of these are unhealthy — even dangerous — options that may cause you to lose a few pounds quickly, but result in even faster boomerang weight gain once you go back to normal living.
So what’s the secret to healthy, safe and lasting weight loss? Some factors are universally consistent and proven to work. The steps below may not be celebrity-endorsed or trendy, but they’re honest, tried-and-true ways that help you lose weight and keep it off. And you don’t need special equipment, exotic ingredients or a personal chef or trainer. Just set a goal and load up on common sense, a little determination and a lot of excitement and you’ll be well on your way to looser fitting jeans!
1. Cut calories — duh.
Yes, we’ve all heard this a million times. It seems like a no-brainer, yet we often underestimate how many calories we take in each day. Here’s how to take control of calories:
- Get to know portion size. Was your morning cereal really just a 3/4-cup serving as listed on the box? Or was it actually double that? (And double the calories listed.) What’s a recommended serving size of meat? Just 3 to 4 ounces — about the size of a deck of cards. Yet a restaurant portion is usually at least twice that. At home, use your measuring cups for a while to “train” you on what different portion sizes look like.
- Shrink your plate. In the past 40 years, our dinner plate size has widened nearly 30 percent — along with our waistlines. We’ve been piling on more food to fill our bigger plates. The solution is simple: Use a smaller plate. It holds less food, yet it looks fuller. This little mind trick will satisfy your visual appetite while you’re eating fewer calories and shrinking your belly!
- Write it down. Grabbed a handful of M&Ms? Picked up a large latte? A nibble here and there racks up calories quickly, yet we often forget those indiscretions when we mentally tally what we ate for the day. Start a written daily diary of every morsel, every drop that passes your lips each day. Note the amount, time, and how you were feeling (Hungry? Bored? Anxious? Angry?) before you ate it. This habit will help you identify eating patterns in addition to showing you how much you really eat in a day and where you can cut back.
2. Move. More. Frequently.
Again, no earth-shaking new strategy here. Your body is designed to move. But how long, how often and what type of exercise is most effective?
- Frequency matters. While something is always better than nothing, if you’re trying to lose weight the tough-love advice is that you really need to get heart-pumping exercise every day.
- Stretch the time. Ready for more boot-camp reality? While 30 minutes is a good starting point, your body launches into full-throttle fat-burning mode just after the 30-minute threshold. So push yourself to exercise for 45 to 60 minutes for maximum weight loss benefit. To meet your exercise quota, you may need to get up a half hour earlier each day. But the regular exercise will give you more energy to do that! It’s OK if you need to work up to a longer duration. Start with an amount you can handle (a doctor’s checkup first may be prudent) but be sure to challenge yourself by adding five to 10 minutes to your routine each week as you build your endurance.
- Intensify efforts. Truly don’t have the time to exercise for a full hour? Interval training, which includes short bursts of intense effort mixed in with moderate intensity, has been shown to burn fat and improve fitness even faster than longer exercise done at moderate pace. These short bursts of intense exercise can also be done in less time. To get the most from your efforts, alternate between pushing hard for one minute during walking, jogging, swimming or cycling and easing up for a minute. Do these intervals for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Stand up. If you work at a desk, be sure to take breaks from sitting, even if just for a minute. Sitting puts your metabolism in park. A recent study shows those who take short breaks from sitting have smaller waistlines and better health. So stand up when you’re on the phone, deliver a message in person rather than by e-mail, and visit the water cooler more often. Also, studies show people who take 11,000 daily steps (tallied by a pedometer) were more successful at maintaining weight loss than those who just took 5,000 steps a day.
- Add weight to your work out. When you’re working out with dumbbells, resistance tubes and your basic push-ups, crunches and squats, you’re burning calories as you build muscle. This one-two punch will help you look leaner faster — muscle takes up less space than fat. And muscle continues to burn more calories at rest. In addition, a 2006 study by the National Institutes of Health found that lifting weights just twice a week can prevent you from gaining intra-abdominal fat — the dangerous kind that envelops organs and constricts blood vessels.
3. Seek support.
In a study of more than 800 people on various diets, all participants lost weight by cutting calories. But participants who also regularly attended counseling sessions lost more than twice as much weight than those who didn’t attend counseling sessions. The take-home message: Peer support is essential for ongoing motivation and accountability. So find a weight-loss buddy who will cheer you on and go through the journey with you.
- Join a team. To find a whole team of weight-loss support buddies, join the Team Reliv Fitness Club. You’ll be supported by hundreds of other Reliv Distributors and customers who are committed to exercise and are tracking their pounds and inches lost right alongside you. Sign up today!
- Choose a partner. Another key support player is Reliv’s Slimplicity® Weight Loss System. The Slimplicity kit includes a delicious, calorie-controlled meal replacement shake, accelerator capsules to boost metabolism and burn fat, a food and exercise journal, a pedometer to track your steps, nutrition tips and online support. Slimplicity gives you a healthy advantage in your weight loss efforts. And it’s a great way to maintain your weight after you reach your goal.