10 Realistic Ways to Lose Weight for Good *

When embarking upon any weight-loss or fitness journey, there are bound to be some speedbumps along the way. When those detours threaten to derail your progress, who better to turn to than the men and women who have already reached their long-term goals? Below, discover 10 insider tips and recommendations for setting goals and staying motivated, all from people who have lost 50 pounds or more (and kept it off for a year or more!).
  1. A huge percentage of weight-loss success is mental.
    "Changing your lifestyle is a mental game, and your mindset is just as important as nutrition and exercise. There are so many times you need to fight through wanting to fail, give up or cry, but if your mind is in the right spot, you’ll get through those times." Erinn T. 

    "Once my head and sprit wanted it as badly as my body needed it, that’s when things really started to click." Amy T.

    Learning to change your perspective so that the healthy choice is the only obvious choice can mean the difference between steady progress and failure. Learn how to alter your perspective, and you’ll change your life!
  2. Moderation is key.
    "Indulgence is okay sometimes. I don’t want to live in a world where I can never have pizza, ice cream, or hamburgers and fries. But those are treats—not staples." Rachel S.

    Banish the word "diet" from you vocabulary and allow yourself to enjoy small treats occasionally, and you’ll find that it is easier to eat healthy throughout the day. Learn how to adopt a more moderate mindset here.
  3. You can't trust the grocery store to make good choices for you.
    "If you say "no" to [a food] in the store, you only have to say "no" once. If you bring it home, you have to say "no" every time you see it on the shelf. Don’t bring things that tempt you home!" Nancy L. 

    The grocery store is specifically designed to make you spend money on things you don’t actually need. To ensure that you stay on the right track at home, enter the grocery store with a game plan instead of relying on your impulses. Learn what to look for and how to avoid grocery store traps here.
  4. Exercise doesn’t have to be a hassle to be effective.
    "Exercise does not have to come in 1-hour blocks. If you don’t have an hour, do 10 or 15 minutes several times throughout the day." Annette P.

    If your schedule is filled to the brim, work on short bursts of exercise throughout the day to get your heart rate up, or experiment with high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts that crush calories in a little as 20 minutes.
  5. It's important to stay honest with yourself.
    "Don’t lie to yourself about your exercise and food choices. If you eat some empty calories, that’s totally fine, but don’t convince yourself that you didn’t have that much or that you are undoing it at the gym. Own your decisions and don’t feel ashamed." Amber H. 

    Getting on a healthy path is going to have its fair share of successes and slip-ups, and it is important to be truthful about everything with your biggest critic: yourself. Tracking your food is a great way to help keep you accountable to your food choices. Get started tracking your daily food intake with our Nutrition Tracker
  6. It's possible to love your workout (seriously!).
    "Go fitness hunting. There are so many exercise options and believe me when I say that you will find something you love. Once you find it, you would never quit it because it becomes a part of you." Connie S.

    Learning to love your workout can be the difference between meeting your goal and giving up. If you dread running, you’re more likely to talk yourself out of a 6:00 a.m. date with the treadmill. Scour the Internet for local deals to test new classes, or learn how to discover workouts that fit your fitness personality.
  7. The smaller goals are just as important.
    "Lose 10 pounds at a time. When you meet your 10 pound goal, celebrate, but not with food. Treat yourself to a new clothing item or a special activity instead. Then, immediately set your sights on the next 10 pound objective." Sean C.

    Reaching your goal weight or completing a predetermined fitness challenge deserves a celebration—but that doesn't mean you shouldn't acknowledge your hard work along the way to reaching your ultimate goal. Keep yourself motivated throughout your journey by outlining smaller, bite-size goals along the way that you can celebrate. For example, plan to see a movie with a friend when you can run three miles without stopping, or treat yourself to a facial after completing the second month of a six-month boot camp program. Small goals make the journey to healthy living even more enjoyable. For more non-food reward ideas, check out this list.
  8. Support is key.
    "I don’t think I could have done it without the support from my sister. We are workout buddies. Even if we are far apart, we keep each other going!" Tammy R.

    "My co-workers have stayed on the journey with me for nearly 2 years by participating in all sorts of crazy competitions. It’s the accountability that’s gotten me this far." Missy P.

    It is a lot more difficult to skip a workout when your buddy is incessantly texting you with reminders about your 6:00 p.m. TRX class. Plus, everything is more fun when sharing it with a friend—yup, even exercising and weight loss! To get started, why not grab a friend and try one of these fun races?
  9. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring.
    "I eat healthily, but decadently, which makes it seem like I’m not dieting at all. I love the foods I eat." Alice J. 

    When done correctly, healthy meals can taste even better than full-fat restaurant meals. As you begin working toward your weight and fitness goals, you’ll soon discover recipes that are both tasty and fuel your hard-working body. There are even plenty of slimmed-down desserts options to satisfy your sweet tooth, so you don't have to give up your favorite treats!
  10. It's important to remember why you started.
    "The biggest thing is staying true to WHY you started in the first place […] Knowing your "why" and living it every single day is what keeps you motivated and consistent." Tiffany M.

    "I have old pictures of me up throughout my house to remind myself of how far I have come--and that I don’t want to go back." Kaitlin S. 

    It's great to reach your goal weight or complete your first half marathon, but a healthy future is the greatest reward for all your hard work. When you’re resisting a cupcake or talking yourself into going for a run, remember the reasons why you started working toward your health-focused goals and realize how far you’ve already come. You’ll be surprised at how motivating those initial reasons can be in the long run! Try these tips to stick to your goal the next time you hit a motivation wall.  
* Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

What are your best tips for losing weight and keeping it off for the long haul? Share them in the comments below!