We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. All too often, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you’re worried, bored, or lonely? Do you snack in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you’re:
It's the name of a book and a weight-loss strategy promoted by hypnotherapist John Richardson, who believes that what you say to yourself—subconsciously and aloud—can help you prevent weight loss-sabotaging behaviors. For example, on a midnight fridge raid you might say to yourself, "What am I doing here? Is this really what I want?" It's a technique that Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York, and author of Slim By Design: Mindless Eating Solutions to Everyday Life, has found to be strongly associated with losing weight. The problem is, many of us aren't willing to do it because it's, well, strange. But it's very much worth a try. "If you're faced with a snack and you're not hungry, say to yourself out loud: 'I'm really full, but I'm going to eat this anyway,' " he advises. "We've found that when people make that statement aloud, two-thirds of the time they don't eat the food. That's all you have to do, but you do have to say it aloud."
Re-think date night. “It’s really hard to find time to be together. People always say 'date night,' but it’s hard to get out once a week and leave the kids and do that," says Delaney. "So what we do is rather than date night we try to have one or two days a week where we train together in the gym. We spend time as a couple together being active and doing active things with the family. One of our favorite things to do is walk around the city, we don’t take cabs, we walk the whole city, window shop and have something to eat. When it comes to exercise, have fun and don’t make it feel like it’s a chore.”
In reality, a never-ending list of factors—including (yes) food and exercise, but also sleep, stress management, hormone health, self-esteem, past weights, and those pesky genetics—influence weight loss as well as the weight your body naturally gravitates toward at a given time in your life, Abby Langer, R.D., a Toronto-based dietitian and nutrition counselor, tells SELF. Of course, maintaining a caloric deficit drives weight loss, but so much more goes into a successful weight-loss effort than the math of calories in and calories out.
Or any activity that lowers stress. "The lower your stress, the lower your cortisol levels," says Fred DeVito of Exhale Spa. That means your body will store fewer calories as fat. If you're not sure yoga's for you, check out all the amazing things it can do for your body besides stress reduction in our report on 7 Surprising Reasons You Should Be Doing Yoga Now.
Last but definitely not least, it's important to check in with yourself on a regular basis. At the beginning of the week, make a list of the meals and snacks you plan to have. Then use that as a checklist, and make sure your kitchen's stocked accordingly. It's easier to make healthy choices if you have a bowl of delicious fruit sitting on the counter and that list is what'll get it there! Then, each day, write down everything you're planning to eat and everything you do eat. Be honest, and write down everything. This will keep you accountable to yourself, and reviewing your lists will help you identify any recurring problem foods.
Almost everyone has heard the rule that it’s okay to eat anything and everything so long as you do so in moderation—but that may not be the best approach to lifelong weight maintenance, according to 2015 PLOS ONE findings. The study of 6,814 people found that the majority of the time, varied diets lead to weight gain. “Though it can be scary to imagine completely cutting out the foods that you love, eating everything in moderation is actually near impossible—especially when it comes to foods with addictive properties, like sugar. You’ll likely find yourself going back for more and more which can slow your weight loss results,” explains registered dietitian Cassie Bjork. “That’s why it’s actually more beneficial to completely cut out the foods that increase your cravings and keep you wanting more.” For example, if you know that chocolate is your #1 trigger food it’s best to cut it out altogether rather than trying to stick to a small serving. In the mood for something sweet? Check out these delicious weight loss smoothies!
Though it’s hardly realistic to keep people from moving north, there’s evidence to suggest that those living in northern latitudes may need to be a bit more careful about their gut health than the rest of us. A study in the journal Biology Letters found that living in northern latitudes encourages the growth of Firmicutes microbes, which have been linked to weight gain while decreasing the number of microbes linked with slim body types called Bacteroidetes. Generally speaking, the research showed that the number of Firmicutes increases with latitude and the number of Bacteroidetes decreases with latitude. To help ensure a healthy gut no matter where you reside, make sure your diet includes fermented and probiotic-rich foods, both of which encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Dairy products such as cream and cheeses. They work well in cooking as they satisfy. The problem is if you’re munching a lot of cheese in front of the TV in the evening… without being hungry. Be careful with that. Or lots of cream with dessert, when you’re actually already full and just keep eating because it tastes good. Or another common culprit: loads of heavy cream in the coffee, many times per day.
Make an effort to fill your fridge with healthy produce and proteins. And when the crisper is empty, make sure the freezer is stocked with frozen veggie mixes or berries (and don’t forget to grab the bags that are sans added sauces or sugar). You may be less apt to order out when you’ve got the makings of a healthy dinner right at home. More good news: Healthy food doesn’t always have to be pricey.
Hold your horses; we’re not giving you the go to order a bubbling skillet of mac and cheese three times a day, but taking a break from your diet may be the secret weapon you need to ward off pesky pounds. An eye-opening study in the International Journal of Obesity found that participants who deviated from their low-calorie diets for two weeks ended up weighing 18 pounds than those who didn’t ditch their diet—even six months later! Although, there is a catch: During your double cheat week, you should be eating enough calories to maintain your current weight—not increase it. (Use a calorie calculator can help you find your caloric maintenance level.)
We applaud you for getting off the couch and making it to your weekly spin class. But if you refuse to venture beyond stationary bikes, you might give the pounds the green light to creep back on. “If you’ve been doing the same workout for the past few months, your body isn’t being challenged anymore, meaning it’s not burning as many calories as it otherwise could,” Dr. Sean M. Wells, personal trainer and author of Double-Crossed: A Review of the Most Extreme Exercise Program, tells us in 17 Reasons Why You’re Regaining Weight. Spike your metabolism and switch things up by exploring different fitness classes or trying a HIIT routine at home.
Before you throw your fork at us, hear us out: There's absolutely no need to resign yourself to a liquid diet to detox your body and give your sluggish system an invigorating boost. For a 24-hour lift, try our Ultimate One-Day Detox. If you simply want to work naturally detoxifying foods into your diet, fill your grocery cart with the 8 Best Foods for Instant Detox.
Make sure that everything you're eating is whole — as in nothing processed or packaged. Since salt is a preservative, these are the foods that are highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. Plan on making sure that all items you choose are fresh. That means filling up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
If this cycle has occurred more times than you'd like to admit, you’re not alone. Setting a weight-loss goal is easy to do, but following through on it is a different story. Which is why losing weight is consistently one of the most popular resolutions, but few of us actually accomplish it. In fact, one survey found that at the end of the first week of January, 30 percent of people have already called it quits.
Before you begin the habit of refilling your water bottle several times a day, make sure yours isn’t laced with BPA. A Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a 75 percent greater chance of being obese than those in the lowest quartile. No wonder why drinking out of plastic bottles is one of our 40 Bad Habits That Make You Fat! To avoid weight gain, make sure your bottle is BPA-free and be particularly wary of plastics that sport a #7 recycling symbol on them, which is an indicator that BPA may be present.
“I wish people knew that gluten-free foods aren’t all automatically healthy,” Torey Armul, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists. “People often lose weight and feel better on a gluten-free diet, but it’s usually not because of lack of gluten. It’s because they’re paying attention to their food choices and eating more real foods and less simple carbs. Gluten-free labeled packaged foods actually tend to have more calories and extra fat or sugar for added flavor.”
In addition to blasting belly fat, you should also be working out and trying to build up your muscle mass. Even when you’re at rest, your body is constantly burning calories, and the “resting metabolic rate” is much higher in people with more muscle. That’s because every pound of muscle uses about six calories a day just to sustain itself. If you can pack on just five pounds of muscle and sustain it, you’ll burn the caloric equivalent of three pounds of fat over the course of a year, and be even closer to obtaining that lean physique you’ve always wanted.
A recent JAMA Internal Medicine study of nearly 4,000 couples found that people are more likely to stick to healthy habits when they team up with a partner. Invite your honey to a Saturday morning run and then hit the showers together—knowing you have something steamy to look forward to afterward should serve as some additional motivation. And speaking of getting frisky, be sure to check out these 30 Best Proteins for Your Penis.
Part of the weight loss puzzle has to do with fighting inflammation, and incorporating the spice turmeric into your diet is an excellent way to do that. Like a myriad of other spices, the Indian cooking staple contains anti-inflammatory compounds. In a 2015 study in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers gave 117 patients with metabolic syndrome either supplements of curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—or a placebo. Over eight weeks, those who received the curcumin saw dramatic reductions in inflammation and fasting blood sugar.
Those who have achieved successful weight loss report making substantial changes in eating and exercise habits in order to lose weight and maintain their losses. On average, registrants report consuming about 1400 kcal/day (24 percent calories from fat) and burning about 400 kcal/day through physical exercise. Walking is the most frequently cited physical activity.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
Chances are, you read The Fat Trap in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, in which Tara Parker-Pope demonstrated how typical weight-loss strategies backfire, leading people to regain the lost weight, usually within months. What happens is that most popular weight loss regimens trigger the body's starvation alert, which in turn triggers hormonal changes that essentially set up a rebound reaction. So forget fast-track weight loss plans and instead make small, gradual changes that allow your metabolism to adjust once and for all. Once your system is used to the new regimen, it won't react with rebound.
Nothing beats breakfast in your PJs, but if you put a bit of effort into what you wear prior to chowing down, it could impact your physique. You can keep your goals front and center by dressing up before a meal, Clinical psychologist Katie Rickel tells us in If You Weigh Over 170 Pounds, Here’s What You Need To Do To Lose Weight. Showing that you care about your appearance is a great reminder to eat in a way that reflects that, whether you’re throwing on business attire or a pair of jeans.
Ah, the über-popular “know your why” strategy. One Brown University study found that when people are motivated to lose weight for appearance and social reasons, they stick with their weight-loss habits for significantly less time than those who are motivated by their health. After all, these external motivators (like looking a certain way or fitting into a cultural ideal) aren’t going to get you going when you’re feeling down, have had a bad day, or are frustrated with a plateau, Albers says.