Congratulations: You have officially survived the holiday season! Now it's time to get back on the wagon and reach some major milestones in the new year. Weight loss may be at the top of your list of goals for 2013, as it is for many people. And whether you want to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, you're going to have to make some changes to your lifestyle habits.
The good news is that you don't have to completely overhaul your life all at once. At SparkPeople, we believe that small changes can lead to BIG results—and the ever-growing number of success stories from our members is proof of that! Millions of people just like you have been in your shoes and have come out on the other side happier, healthier and fitter than they could have ever imagined. And they've learned some bits of wisdom along the way that you can now use to your advantage along your own journey. Are you ready to lose your first 10 pounds of 2013? These helpful weight-loss tips from successful SparkPeople members will help you do just that!
Take Baby Steps
When it comes to New Year's resolutions, people often set multiple big goals to achieve simultaneously. It's great to be motivated, but diving into a lot of change all at once is a recipe for burnout. Instead, start with one habit, and once you've got a handle on it, move slowly onto the next.
Says MUSICGIRL0604: ''Start with something--anything. For example, I felt I needed more water. After a day or two of eight cups a day, I felt more energy for exercise. After a day or two of at least 10 minutes of exercise a day, I felt a desire to try to eat healthier and cleaner. Pick one thing that will be easy for you to stick with and see where it goes from there!''
Remember--slow and steady wins the race. Be consistent with gradually adding more healthy habits, and you'll see results in no time!
Always Have a Plan (And Back-Ups)
When you fail to plan, you're at the mercy of whatever life throws your way--whether it be unhealthy snacks in the office vending machine, or a traffic jam that prevents you from getting to your exercise class on time. When it comes to eating right and getting in your fitness minutes, always have a ''Plan A'' and a ''Plan B'' to ensure that you're never left unprepared for life's little obstacles. These SparkPeople members agree:
''I plan everything for the week--when I will work out, what I will eat, etc. When I know that I will be indulging due to a party or other celebration, I exercise extra that day and eat a smaller lunch.''
''I pre-cook my meals for the week on the weekend and put them in the freezer. This way, I'm sure that what I cook is healthy and true to my weight-loss goals. A great idea for busy people!''
''By planning ahead, you are less likely to fall prey to poor choices. Consider this: You get home exhausted from working late or going to the gym. If you've planned ahead, you will have something cooked up and ready to go, or at least have a quick recipe picked out to make. If you haven't planned, you're more likely to get take-away food, or ''naughty'' stuff. Plan, plan, plan, and everything gets easier--including losing weight!''
You might think you know how much you're eating, but very few of us are perfect at estimating portions—and that little extra bit of cereal, coffee creamer, or salad dressing can add up fast.
RAVENSONG37 says: ''Make sure everything you eat is measured or weighed… especially if you are new at cooking healthy portions. What we think looks like one cup or four ounces might be surprising! Measuring everything keeps you on track with nutrition and portions!''
Invest in a set of measuring cups and spoons and practice measuring out your portions at every possible opportunity. Keep up this habit over time, even if you feel like you've become a measuring pro. It's amazing how easy it is to forget what an appropriate serving size looks like, especially when we're constantly faced with larger-than-life portions at restaurants.
Drink Water (And Lots of It!)
When it comes to weight loss, water is your secret weapon. Drinking enough H2O will help keep you full, prevent fatigue and crush food cravings. A lot of people struggle with getting the recommended 64 ounces of water per day, but with enough practice, it's a habit that can become second nature. Drink up using these smart tips:
''Give yourself more energy and prevent cravings by downing two glass of water when you get up---before breakfast!''
''My secret is really no secret! When I have gone too long between meals and feel famished, I first grab a glass of water to help me from overeating! It's actually a great thing to do before eating every meal… and an easy way to get water in!''
''Since water is not my favorite, I have found that if I drink my 8-10 glasses of water before I let myself drink any other beverages (unsweetened tea, etc.), it's much easier to get in my water for the day. By noon, I have normally consumed at least four glasses, and the other four are easier. And on some days I actually exceed the minimum required amount.''
Flex Your Motivation Muscle
Getting motivated is like bathing—you have to do it daily! Motivation comes and goes, and if you let it get too low, keeping to your healthy-living goals can seem like a daunting task. Find something that motivates you and incorporate it into your daily routine.
INNESSMITH says: ''I watch a motivational video on YouTube every night! This helps me to remember that I don't have that far to go, comparatively speaking, and that I can do it!''
Whether it's watching a video, reading an inspirational book, journaling, or finding motivational quotes online, make sure you take some time to replenish your motivation supply every day!
Work on Your Relationship with Food
For many people, eating is an experience that is charged with many conflicting emotions. Therefore, it's not enough to simply go through the motions of eating healthier. You have to mentally change your perception of what food means to you, too. Although it can be difficult, consciously working to change your relationship with food is one of the best things you can do for long-term weight-loss success.
BLABLA71 says: ''Before I started my healthy lifestyle, I used to treat food as either a friend or an enemy. It was only when I learned to approach food as what it really is—nutrition--that I managed to incorporate my new eating habits!''
Of course, this is a skill that will take a lot of practice. But simply taking time to focus on eating for fuel (rather than emotional reasons) is a step in the right direction.
Take Advantage of Your Tracking Tools
SparkPeople's Fitness and Nutrition Trackers offer more than just accountability—they also enable you to see patterns in your exercise and eating habits over time. Using the trackers in this way made a huge difference for ENUFF81020:
''After working on weight loss for a while, I finally realized that if I looked at my Nutrition Tracker and my Fitness Tracker for the weeks when I had good weight losses, it was easy to find out what I did that really worked. I have found my personal plan for weight loss from doing this--and I have lost weight 9 weeks in a row from following it.''
The food and fitness data that you track is more valuable than you might realize. Don't just track your intake and exercise—really use that information!
Surround Yourself with Goal Reminders
It's easy to let life get in the way of your well-intentioned plans to eat right and exercise. But if you surround yourself with constant reminders of your big-picture plan, it makes it easier to stick to the healthy habits that will get you results. The following strategy has helped KATANIA stick to her plan:
''If you're serious about losing weight, you'll be sure to incorporate healthy habits no matter where you are. At my office job, I have a chain of paperclips to visually remind myself of my goals. 1 clip=1 pound. As I lose weight, I remove clips from the chain.''
Vision boards also serve as great daily reminders. To make one, cut out images and words from magazines and newspapers that represent what your goal means to you. Paste the cutouts on a large piece of poster board, and hang your board in a place where you will see it every day. This small exercise can be surprisingly effective at helping you stick to your goals when times get tough!
Keep a Food Photo Journal
If you're a visual person, taking pictures of your food before a meal is an easy way to get a clear picture of how much you're eating. It's pretty difficult to be dishonest with yourself about what you ate when you have the evidence in photo form!
QUELINDA2 says: ''I've started taking a photo of everything I eat. I review at the end of the day. If you have to have a picture of it, you might think twice before eating it! This is a great way to see what I'm actually eating over the course of a day. I can also snap a quick photo if it's something I don't have time to log. Just log it later. It keeps me mindful of what and how much I'm eating.''
If you feel strange taking pictures of your food in public, don't worry—all you need to do is snap a discreet shot with your phone. Nobody will notice but you!
Be Kind to Yourself Every Day
We can’t all be optimistic 100% of the time. But taking the time to practice positive self-talk really does make the path to success a little bit clearer, and can rekindle your motivation when you need a pick-me-up. Find a quiet moment every day to reflect on how far you've come already—and tell yourself that you deserve to live your best life. Here are a few positivity pointers from some of our successful SparkPeople members:
''All our weight-loss efforts--exercise, planning, tracking, figuring ranges--are all temporary unless we are kind to the person in the mirror. That person is the one we have to learn to love FIRST. Search out the positives. Talk to the person in the mirror about those positive things rather than all the hateful things you are used to saying. Learn to be your own best friend! It leads to a whole world of possibilities--not just in weight loss.''
''I've been practicing the positive self-talk for a little while now, and I honestly have seen better results. I have been trying to reduce my intake of desserts and empty calories, so when I turn things down, or decide not to eat something, instead of saying that ''I can't have X'', I say that ''I don't WANT X.'' It makes a HUGE difference, and I don't obsess over it because I'm too busy congratulating myself for turning it down.''
''Negative thoughts happen. They're kind of like little birds that flit through your head. The key is to shoo them away and not let them make a nest in your hair!''
''A good way to encourage positive self-talk is to post affirmations where you'll see them several times a day. A good one is to use affirmations or positive words as passwords. You'll be typing those several times a day and sending the message to your unconscious mind.''
Which of these 10 tips will you try this year? Do you have any weight-loss secrets of your own to share?
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