7 Simple Ways to Lose Weight

These weight-loss shortcuts can help you stay lean without stressing out.

November 28, 2017
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Adapted from The Women's Health Fitness Fix

Launch into pretty much any diet plan and you’re bound to lose some weight. It’s not magic; suddenly, you’re not randomly grazing but you’re following a meal plan and eating with a purpose, even if that purpose is based on pseudoscience or radical theories.

The problem is, your brain is a calorie hog, and it takes an immense amount of concentration to stick to a complicated diet. Not to mention, from day one, most don’t feel sustainable so you know from the get-go it’s a temporary fix.

More: Your 20-Minute Weight-Loss Workout Plan

But getting or staying slim does not require a diet! In fact, most lean people are that way because of seemingly minor behaviors that add up to a healthy lifestyle. They may sound too easy or basic to work, but that’s the point. These weight-loss shortcuts may not be as obvious and their results may not show up as quickly as fad diets’ do, but they're lasting. By trading in your old dieting ways, you’ll save time in the long run because you’ll be able to sustain these habits forever, and therefore maintain your lighter weight.

Learn to eat healthy, one meal at a time, by ditching deprivation and shifting to a new way of eating that'll keep you lean for life.

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1
Keep It Consistent

Make sure your approach to eating is one you can stick with. No crash diets or fads which are literally defined by their fleeting status. Ask yourself, “Can I see myself eating like this forever?” If the answer is no, you need to change your approach. You should think of this as a permanent lifestyle shift.

And consistency doesn’t just mean Monday through Friday either. Researchers have found that people who eat consistently day to day are one and a half times more likely to maintain their weight loss than those who diet only on weekdays. At the same time, it’s important to remember that one meal doesn’t define your diet and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed or fallen off the wagon. Every meal is a chance to start over and do it right.

More: 7 Days to Slim: A Practical Guide to Feeling Lighter in a Week

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2
Take Control

Don’t rely on hope and prayers to get the body you want. Investing just an hour or two on the weekend to get a jump start on preparing your meals for the week (cutting veggies, making marinades) will save you time and pounds in the long run. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that almost 40 percent of people who lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off planned their weekly meals. When you don’t map out your meals, you’re too tempted to grab whatever’s nearby, which is often high-calorie junk.

More: 10 Slimming Staples for Your Pantry

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3
Find Your Own Frequency

Around the turn of the millennium, research began to sing the benefits of eating more frequently (as opposed to sticking to three main meals). The “graze, don’t gorge” philosophy is based on the idea that having frequent small meals keeps your blood sugar steady, your metabolism ramped up, and your appetite in check. A big part of the logic is that going too long between meals or skipping them completely may lead to overeating later. It could even explain why women who skipped meals lost about 8 pounds less than those who ate more consistently, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Here’s the thing: Other research shows a link between obesity and eating more than three times a day, most notably in women. You’ll eat healthiest if you eat your way. Meaning, if you prefer substantial meals fewer times a day, there’s no reason to force yourself to do the opposite.

More: 9 Ways to Recover From a Food Binge

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4
Eat Food You Actually Like

If eating nothing but raw foods, or locally sourced meat, or cabbage soup sounds enjoyable to you, go for it. But for the vast majority of people, these aren’t maintainable eating options, they’re diets. To be sustainable, you have to actually like, not just tolerate, the food you’re being told to eat. If you don’t, you start off knowing it’s going to be a short-term gig, which could make you throw in the towel even sooner.

More: 9 Eating Hacks for Weight Loss

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5
Track Feelings, Not Calories

Our tracking-app age has intensified this idea that a “calorie is a calorie”—that weight loss isn’t really about what you eat, but how many calories you eat. As long as your weight-loss app says you came in under your daily caloric totals, it doesn’t matter if you had two candy bars for lunch.

While counting each and every calorie may help keep your intake in check, it can also take up way too much of your time and make you feel crazy. Try a little experiment: For 1 week, take a break from the numbers and, instead, keep track of when you eat and how you feel. Look for patterns. Do you always hit up your coworker’s candy jar after a tough meeting? Do you graze before dinner out of boredom? Do you always crave ice cream after seeing a Dairy Queen commercial? Identifying and working to change these habits can help you slim down in the long run.

More: 6 Science-Approved Stress-Busting Strategies

 
 
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6
Snack Smarter

While they were instituted as small bites to keep hunger at bay between meals, today roughly one-quarter of the calories in the American diet come from snacks, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition. And snack-size packaging, which supposedly was introduced to help manage our portions, may only make matters worse. 

Researchers found that dieters inhaled significantly more calories from mini packs of cookies than from standard-size ones. When you finish one bag and still aren’t satisfied (the portions are really small, after all), you dig into another and then another. Homemade servings are not likely to trigger the same overeating as store-bought packs, because the size of the food isn’t deceptively smaller, the amount is limited, but to a portion that satisfies you.

More: 22 Allergy-Friendly Snacks Under 300 Calories

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7
Lose the Labels

You thought I was talking about the ones on packaged foods, didn’t you? That works, too, but it’s not what I’m referring to. When it comes to nutrition, everyone today seems to be looking for a good guy and a bad guy. But putting a mental safety lock on “bad” foods doesn’t guarantee results. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who restricted junk-food intake shed the same amount of weight as those who didn’t. The researchers found that subjects who deprived themselves still splurged, just on other grub. It can also actually make you crave the off-limits food more: Women who suppressed thoughts about chocolate craved it more—and ate more when they gave in.

More: The Truth Behind the Most Common 'Healthy' Food Labels

Find more weight-loss strategies in The Women's Health Fitness Fix

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