Embarking upon a weight-loss journey is something that about 50 million Americans do each year, according to Colorado State University. Only 5 percent of those who lose weight will keep the pounds off, CSU says. While there aren’t any quick fixes that will help you lose the weight and keep it off, there are some things you can do to improve your odds.
Write a Contract
Write a contract with yourself that includes short-term and long-term weight-loss goals. When you do this, remember that weight loss involves eating a balanced diet and exercising. You can set goals on pounds to lose within a specific time frame–one to two pounds per week is considered a safe weight loss rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Keep a Journal
The things you eat and your daily activities have an effect on your weight loss. Keep a journal that includes everything you put into your mouth–food and drink. Add in the ways you get your daily exercise. Include information about things that affect your mood, such as death in the family or a celebration.
Find a Weight-Loss Buddy
Find a weight-loss buddy, either in person or on the Internet, to help you stay motivated and help keep you accountable to your program. Check in with the person regularly, either daily or weekly. Set a timetable that works for both of you.
Weigh and Measure Yourself
Weighing yourself once per week enables you to see your weight going down. Measure yourself once per month so you can see the inches falling off. Women should measure their upper thighs, hips, waist, bust and upper arms. Men should measure the waist, chest and neck.
Plan Your Meals
If you plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, it will be easier for you to stay on track. You can plan on a day-to-day basis if your plans change frequently; however, this may involve multiple trips to the grocery store to ensure that you have the foods you need for that day. If you like to plan in advance, plan weekly or monthly menus.
Keep Healthy Snacks with You
When you are on the go, it can be tempting to grab fast food or snack on something unhealthy. To minimize the risk of that happening, take healthy snacks with you when you leave home. Nuts, low-fat granola and 100-calorie snack packs are good options for when you are on the go.
Place your food on a small plate and eat using toddler utensils while sitting down. Eating on a small plate gives your eyes the illusion of having a lot of food. When you put your food on a small plate, you are less likely to pile on a lot of foods. Toddler utensils help you to take smaller bites. Sitting down to eat helps you to focus on eating. Overeating because you don’t realize you are full can thwart your weight-loss goals.
Dine Out and Stay on Track
If you must dine out while on your diet, order from the child’s menu if possible. If you can’t do that, order an appetizer only or order a full entree and take half of the meal home with you. Some restaurants offer healthy options on the regular menu. If you are dining at an establishment with those options, make a note of the nutritional values, such as calories, from the menu so you can keep track of a meal’s content.
Get Ready for Exercise
Lay out your exercise clothes before you go to bed at night to give you motivation to workout. You should exercise on most days of the week for 60 to 90 minutes per day, which is the recommendation the American College of Sports Medicine makes for weight loss.
Plan for Deviations
Being on a weight-loss program doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself. To help you stay on track with your weight-loss plan, you should plan to eat some foods that aren’t on your diet. If you have stayed on track all week, treat yourself to a “forbidden” food or have cake at a birthday party. Just remember that you must still limit yourself to a single serving instead of an entire dish.
About this Author
Casey Holley is a medical writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health and fitness industries. She has worked as a nutrition consultant and has written numerous health and wellness articles, for various online publications. She has also served in the Navy, and is currently pursing a business administration degree.