Nearly 2 months ago, a new year was rung in. Along with it came plenty of resolutions. Year after year, one of the most popular new year’s resolutions is weight loss. Whether it’s 10 pounds or 100 pounds, plenty of people have weight loss on their minds.
Now that we’re nearly 1/6 of the way through 2017, you may find yourself lagging in your attempts to eat well, exercise often, and take care of yourself in the name of weight loss and achieving a healthy lifestyle. If you’re struggling to hold onto your weight loss resolution, here are 10 ways to accelerate your effort:
Eat More to Lose More
It sounds counter-intuitive to suggest eating more will help you lose more weight but it’s true! Dramatically slashing your caloric intake does nothing to help your weight loss progress. In fact, it actually harms your efforts by slowing down your metabolism, causing your body to put the brakes on fat burning, and can cause nasty dips in blood sugar levels that open the door to mega binges.
Instead of adhering to a super-restrictive diet, add in some snacks and make sure you’re at least getting enough calories to compensate for your body’s natural, resting metabolic rate (the amount of calories your body burns simply by existing). Some great snacks to add to the mix are nuts, seeds, veggies, hummus, and fruit. One note is that fruit juice does little to nothing for your body–make sure you’re eating the actual piece of fruit to benefit from the fiber and vitamins packed in each serving.
As much as I’d like to say this is a free pass to drown your sorrows in some wine or to chug those caramel macchiatos from Starbucks, alas, that is not what I’m advocating. What you should be drinking is plenty of water. If water is boring or just doesn’t taste right to you, consider adding fruit and/or veggies to it to enhance the flavor. Better yet, fill up a thermos of green or black tea and sip throughout the day to ensure your body is being adequately hydrated.
Listen to Your Body
Hunger pangs making you feel like Marsha Brady in those Snickers commercials? Before you reach for a snack, check yourself. Often, when we feel what we believe to be hunger, it’s actually just thirst. Try downing some of the fruit-flavored water or tea you’re toting around. If you’re still famished 10 minutes later, opt for a small snack that incorporates some healthy fats and protein.
Additionally, develop the habit of stopping before you’re completely full. Hara Hachi Bu: Eat until you’re 80% full. This ancient Japanese practice makes a hell of a lot of sense. Considering Japan yields some of the fittest, happiest, slimmest, and oldest living people on Earth, I think they may be onto something. It takes your brain at least 20 minutes to register you’re full. Avoid the bloating, irritating food coma by stopping just short of feeling full. You may be very surprised with the outcome!
This one is a no-brainer. Incorporating more movement into your everyday life is the easiest way to jump-start your metabolism and get your weight loss journey on track. Traditional exercise is a must-do but there are other ways to increase your movement. Fidgeting (quietly tapping your feet under the desk during a meeting, drumming your fingers, etc) is a proven way that naturally thin people stay thin. Other proven methods of getting–and staying–slim include parking further away, always taking the steps, doing a lap around the office every hour, and even challenging yourself to carry more groceries in one haul. Just keep in mind that while exercise will certainly help your weight loss efforts, it won’t do enough if you’re not eating well, too.
Pump it Up
In addition to adding more incremental movement into your days, you should also be strength training. Strength training is the number one way to increase lean muscle mass which in turn burns more fat, helps regulate your metabolism, and keeps your body firing on all cylinders even when you’re sleeping. Who doesn’t like the idea of burning calories while they sleep!?
To get the most out of your weight lifting sessions, try to add some short bursts of cardio in between exercises. This type of interval training will keep your muscles guessing and will torch huge amounts of calories if done consistently. On the topic (debate?) of lifting less with bigger weights or lifting more with smaller weights, it really doesn’t matter. Less than 10% of women are capable of naturally gaining large muscles because of how our bodies and hormones are designed. Better yet, why not try both?
Eat Before You Eat
What the what? Eat before I eat? Ok, now this is really getting a little bonkers. Lest you think I’ve gone off the deep end, consider what I’m saying. Eating before you eat means having soup before your pasta; salad before your steak. The best choices are something hot, something spicy, and/or something with fiber. With the hot temperature, you’ll wait for the food to cool as you gradually consume it, which gives your body time to register those calories (see above regarding the brain taking 20 minutes to decipher fullness). Spicy foods are difficult to eat quickly which gives your body the same time. With fiber, it fills you up so opting for an apple with peanut butter before you go to the restaurant will help you say no to that massive plate of nachos your boyfriend/husband may order as an appetizer.
Change it Up
Our bodies become accustomed to what we do on a regular basis. If you want to supercharge your weight loss, make sure to change up your routine. From adding a new strength exercise to adding a completely different form of exercise (swimming for runners, yoga for football players, it all works!), changing things up will help your body wake up, shape up, and lose excess pounds. Switching gears will give your metabolism a zap and ensure your body is torching calories as efficiently as possible.
Sleep on It
According to research done by Columbia University, if you get less sleep than usual, you may consume an additional 300 calories simply because you’re tired. Additionally, researchers found people who sleep at least 8 hours of sleep per night lost over 50% more body fat than if they slept only 5 hours while consuming the same diet. Your body mass is directly affected by how much you sleep, so sleep more to improve your weight loss.
If you constantly find yourself burning the candle at both ends, consider this: Your body has two hormones that regulate your appetite; ghrelin and leptin. Simply stated, leptin helps your body regulate fat storage and ghrelin stimulates your body to produce more growth hormone which increases appetite. Skimp on your sleep and these two hormones go completely out of whack. Not only will you be tired (and possibly a wee bit grumpy), but you’ll also be more likely to binge on sugary, fatty foods to help you get through the day. It’s definitely not worth the stress and impact on your body–log those hours in your bed, not at the computer.
Eat the Fat to Beat the Fat
A lot of fodder has been spread about the impact of a low-fat diet on weight loss. While reducing your overall intake of fat certainly helps you to lose weight, completely cutting it out does not. Those so-called “healthy” foods that tout ‘fat free,’ ‘calorie free’ labels are nothing more than engineered chemicals. When fat is stripped from your foods, sugar, sugar substitutes, and salt are often added in its place. Instead of obsessing over the amount of fat you’re eating, try to focus on the type of fat you’re consuming.
Unsaturated, healthy fats are a dieter’s best friend. Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated, the kinds found in nuts, avocados, fish, and seeds, are burned faster by your body than saturated fats, contribute to a higher resting metabolic rate (see above), and incite diet-induced calorie burn. Make an effort to balance your diet and your waistline will thank you!
Fill Up on Fiber
Much like fat is a beneficial resource for your body, fiber is a nutritional powerhouse that could be the secret ingredient in successful weight loss. Ditch the refined flour in lieu of whole grains–barely, farro, oats, and brown rice are a great starting point. Replace the meal replacement bars with the real things–those fake sugars (hello claims of “negative net carbs!”) wreak more havoc on your body’s insulin levels than actual sugar does. Eat real food rather than relying solely on shakes and smoothies. Smoothies can be an effective tool for weight loss, but they can’t be the only way you consume your food. Make sure you’re boosting your fiber levels to ensure you’re consuming vital nutrients, stoking your metabolism, and filling up on real food rather than fake substitutes. You’ll be more satisfied, less likely to binge, and will feel awesome!
What do you do to accelerate your weight loss efforts? Share your tips below!