You may have convinced yourself that you can overhaul your diet and start exercising every single day, but that's kind of like hopping on a plane to Antarctica with no itinerary. "You need a plan," says John Norcross, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Scranton, who has studied New Year's resolutions. "What, specifically, are you going to do differently?" Experts recommend doing a brain dump of all the changes you want to make, then starting with one tiny, doable tweak—packing a healthy lunch or walking 20 minutes a day. Once that's a comfortable part of your routine, put a bold checkmark on your list, then add another small change. Sure, baby steps take longer, but they work: a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicinefound that people who made one small change a week lost nearly twice as much weight as those who followed broader "eat less, move more" guidelines. And imagine how gratifying it will feel to see those checkmarks add up as the pounds fall off.
Hypothyroidism, in which the pituitary gland produces too little of a key hormone that regulates metabolism, is one of the key reasons for weight gain that stubbornly refuses to reverse itself. And it's surprisingly common; endocrinologists say as many as one out of five adults over age 40 suffer from an under active thyroid. If you think this might be you, get a thyroid test. But beware: The first-line thyroid blood test, known as the TSH, is controversial and the cut-off for "normal" used by most labs may be too high. In 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists began recommending that the cutoff for normal TSH should be 3.0 versus the older standard of 5.5, but this news hasn't reached many labs or doctors. So check your results yourself and if they're between 3 and 5 and your doctor notes them as normal, make sure she's aware of the new recommendation. Pay attention to other signs as well; if you feel tired and lethargic and notice that you're cold all the time, or have poor circulation in your hands and feet, or hair loss (including eyebrows and eyelashes), these are all symptoms of hypothyroidism. Not to mention uncharacteristic weight gain that stubbornly refuses to respond to typical weight loss strategies such as making dietary changes, increasing exercise, and trying the strategies outlined here. You can also ask for further testing; there a number of additional tests that many experts believe give more accurate readings of thyroid function. And lots of endocrinologists think having a TSH between 1 and 2 is ideal for maintaining normal body weight and function, so if your doctor isn't sympathetic, get a referral to an endocrinologist known to treat thyroid disorders aggressively.
“For busy people, [planning ahead] is the most efficient way to get done what you need to get done — whether it’s your job, your workout, meal planning ... It’s not easy and we have so many things going on. Putting things down on paper clears your brain. Now you don’t have everything in your head; it frees up the space to focus on what you need to do. “

Looks like weighing yourself is the way to go. When Cornell researchers pushed study participants to lose 10 percent of their body weight, those who accomplished this in the program’s first year were able to keep the pounds at bay throughout a second year as well. The reason for this? Researchers think stepping on the scale played a large factor, as this became a daily reinforcer for participants to continue effective behaviors like eating less and exercising more. While this was more effective in the males being studied, David Levitsky, senior author, recommends using a simple bathroom scale and Excel spreadsheet to track progress and keep things moving in a positive direction.
"Order without looking at the menu. Almost every restaurant has the basics—veggies, grains, and protein. If you go in knowing what you want, I guarantee you'll be able to make a meal. If you're too uncomfortable to ask for what you need, tell a white lie: Say you're allergic. I know it's controversial to suggest this, but women in particular can really have trouble standing up for their own needs. So if you want the broccoli soup puréed without cream, tell the waiter you're lactose intolerant."

However, if a HIIT workout or piling on muscle mass seems too daunting, simply move for two-ish minutes to whittle your waistline. Why, you ask? Research printed in the journal Physiological Reports showed that people who did five 30-second bursts of max-effort cycling, followed by four minutes of rest, burned 200 extra calories that day. If you incorporate this technique into your workout routine just a few times per month, you can burn thousands of additional calories per year.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee dropped their longstanding recommendation that we should limit dietary cholesterol. Decades of research have shown that it has little effect on blood cholesterol levels, and the government’s outdated recommendations have done little more than send scrambled messages about the pros and cons of eating eggs and shrimp. So go ahead and scramble up an omelet—with the yolk. Eating the entire egg is beneficial to your body because it contains metabolism-stoking nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids, and choline—a powerful compound that attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver. To learn more about the flat-belly benefits of eggs, check out these What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Eggs.
Boredom is dangerous and so easily leads to weight gain. While free time gets perceived as relaxing, it actually makes me feel anxious, which can lead to bad eating habits. My busiest days are the ones when I tend to focus less on my food and more on what I need to get done. That's why I always try to fill my schedule with things that make me feel productive—so I don’t find myself rummaging through the pantry for a lack of something to do.
If you’re trying to decide whether to work out in the morning or at night, getting up early has some serious weight-loss potential. A 2012 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise can reduce your appetite, decreasing your motivation for food throughout the day. Because of that, you’ll see the number on the scale drop. For tips on getting out of bed with the sun, learn The Best Ways to Become A Morning Workout Machine.
Meatless Monday is more than just an alliteration; it’s an easy way to drop a few pounds. Numerous studies have shown that those who eat the least amount of meat are less likely to be obese, have lower BMIs, and lower body fat levels. Though it’s perfectly fine to eat meat a few times a week, these high-protein foods tend to fill you up before you can work your way over to the veggies, which possess fat-fighting, waist-trimming powers. Try spotlighting just greens and healthy grains in your meals a few times a month.
Sleep not only reduces stress, helps us heal faster and prevents depression, it can also help shave off pounds. That’s because sleep loss is linked to changes in appetite and the metabolism of glucose (sugar in the blood). Moral of the story: Sleep is associated with less weight gain. Take a look at our guide to sleep positions to optimize those hours spent under the sheets. And try other solutions for extra zzz’s like turning off electronics in the bedroom and avoiding large meals late at night.
Many dietitians begin by asking clients to access the organ with the most powerful effect on weight: the brain. "I always ask my clients to monitor their food intake by keeping a food journal," says Karolin Saweres, RDN, LD. "I often find that my clients are not aware of how many meals, snacks, nibbles, or handfuls of food they eat each day." Becoming aware of our actual intake may initially be an uncomfortable surprise but can lead to more mindful eating throughout the day.
You'll need to think about whether to have RAI versus other hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease treatments. Weight gain after RAI is common. One study on patients who had a thyroidectomy found that those who did the surgery as their first line of treatment were less likely to become overweight or obese than those who had undergone RAI first. Talk to your doctor about your Graves’/hyperthyroidism treatment options.
SNACKS: Fresh vegetables with fat-free dip are a healthy snack food. Fat-free rice cakes and rye crackers contain fiber and starch which helps you feel full. Avoid foods high in sugar, such as candy, cookies, and pastries. Also, avoid high fat snacks, such as nuts, regular chips, and chocolate foods. Instead try baked or fat-free chips, air-popped popcorn, or fresh fruit between meals.
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Conventional wisdom would suggest that teaming up with a diet buddy will  ensure that you stick with your healthy-eating goals (and the easiest compadre to recruit would be your romantic partner). However, social psychologist Jennifer Jill Harman, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Colorado State University, recently surveyed people about how confident they feel about controlling their portion sizes while alone and also in the presence of others. She found that among 50 overweight, romantic couples who had resolved to lose weight, the more successful one partner was at restricting his or her diet and eating healthier, the less self-assured the other partner was about controlling his or her own food portions. "People feel less confident in their ability to achieve their goals when they see others succeeding at those same goals," says Harman. Which makes a weight-loss partnership tricky. So try something different: Set your own goals, alone. 
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.

Do-overs: They’re what your parents use to give you when you missed an easy hole on the mini golf course. But sadly, with adulthood, comes “grown-up” responsibilities, leaving little to no time for second shots—especially when it comes to your long-term happy weight. Shedding pounds takes countless hours of dedication, so if you’ve already gone through the grind to reach your goal weight, do you really want to do it again? We didn’t think so.

Calcium and vitamin C team up well to boost metabolism, and broccoli is just one of several healthy foods that contains both nutrients. What sets broccoli apart from the others, however, is that the green veggie also contains kind of fiber that’s been shown to increase the digestion, absorption and storage of food, also known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). A revved up metabolism combined with an increased TEF is a match made in weight loss heaven, so consider incorporating broccoli into a tasty stir-fry, or serving it as its own side dish.
Eat Breakfast Every Day. One habit that's common to many people who have lost weight and kept it off is eating breakfast every day. "Many people think skipping breakfast is a great way to cut calories, but they usually end up eating more throughout the day, says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. "Studies show people who eat breakfast have lower BMIs than breakfast-skippers and perform better, whether at school or in the boardroom." Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low-fat dairy for a quick and nutritious start to your day.
We already told you that sticking to a fitness routine is an absolute must for weight maintenance but that doesn’t make finding the time—or motivation— after a busy work day any easier. The solution to the problem: Wake up an hour and a half early and fit in your workout before heading to the office. If you’re up at 5 a.m. with nothing else to do but break a sweat, odds are pretty low that you’ll skip out on your boot camp or spin class. For more creative ways to stay motivated in the morning, check out these 35 Fun Ways to Lose Weight.
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.

Even if you’re a sweet tooth, it’s wise to eliminate as much sugar from your diet as you can, especially if you’re trying to keep weight off. “Sugar has been linked to leptin resistance, which is the hormone that tells you when you are full,” explains Dr. Petre. “Bad bacteria also consume sugar and compromise your immune system. [This] causes cell aging and a decline in tissue function and elasticity.” Heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes are just a few additional reasons to avoid it at all costs. She recommends reading food labels closely so that you know just how much sugar you’re really consuming.

Forgive yourself: “We beat ourselves up all the time and you can’t do that because the most successful people in life take risks, and part of taking risks is failure," says Delaney. "I learned this through business: If you fail, you were brave enough to take the risk, so don’t beat yourself up. What people need to understand is, it’s okay to mess up, what isn’t okay is to let that ruin your motivation. Get back on the wagon and regroup; think about why you messed up so you don’t keep repeating the same problem.”
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Check out online communities (on Facebook, Twitter or other forums) that provide support and encouragement. One study showed that overweight adults who listened to weight-loss podcasts and used Twitter in tandem with a diet and physical activity monitoring app lost more weight than those who did not go social. Sharing progress and setbacks on social media can help you feel accountable for your goals.

We’ve already established that friends and family play a key role in motivating you to get in shape and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it’s also crucial for you to be your own driving force. Luckily, research has shown that doesn’t need to require a tremendous amount of effort. According to a 2015 study in the Journal of Marketing Research, subtle, even subliminal, messages may be more effective at helping us stick to a healthy eating regimen than ongoing, conscious focus. The research showed that people who receive reinforcing notes urging them to eat healthily were more likely to make smarter choices than those who tried to keep their goals top of mind at all times, so grab some Post-Its and start crafting motivational messages!

Think of sweet potatoes as nature’s dessert. Not only do they satisfy your sweet tooth, these taters digest slowly and keep you feeling fuller for longer thanks to their satiating fiber. They’re also brimming with carotenoids, antioxidants that stabilize blood-sugar levels and lower insulin resistance—which prevent calories from being converted into fat.

Listen up: Skipping meals will not make you lose weight faster. If a hectic day makes a sit-down meal impossible, stash an energy bar or a piece of fruit in your car or tote, keep snacks in your office desk drawer, and make a point of getting up to grab a nosh — anything that will keep you from going hungry! Going long periods of time without food does double-duty harm on our healthy eating efforts by both slowing down your metabolism, and priming you for another binge later in the day. (Think: You've skipped breakfast and lunch, so you're ready to takedown a whole turkey by dinner!) Make it your mission to eat three meals and two snacks every day, and don't wait longer than three to four hours without eating. Set a "snack alarm" on your phone if needed.
Typically, Americans eat a small breakfast, medium-sized lunch, and big dinner, but one study of 50,000 adults published in the Journal of Nutrition found you should be doing the opposite, if you want to lose weight. By eating your most calorie-heavy meal at breakfast, you’ll be able to better decrease your BMI — and, you know, enjoy more of your favorite foods right away in the morning. Healthy pancakes, anyone?
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