5 Tips for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off
Only five, you ask? Yup, there are five tried and true techniques for losing weight and keeping it off. If you're willing to exercise a little patience and moderation, then the following tips will help you in losing weight and keeping it off for good.
1. Drink Lots of Water
By now, we've all heard that we should drink eight glasses of water a day for optimum health. But when it comes to managing your weight, water is the best friend you can have at your side.
In short, water regulates cravings. When we have cravings, most of the time we're feeling the side effects of dehydration, not a lack of food. But most people don't know this, and so we respond by pumping more food into our systems.
This is like asking your friend for $5 and getting a shiny new quarter in return. It's not what you asked for, and what you received isn't nearly enough to satisfy your needs. There's no doubt that you'll be right back to asking for more money pretty quickly.
What our bodies really want more than anything is to be hydrated. You still need to eat, of course, but after a couple days your body will stabilize as it becomes properly hydrated. After that, the hunger pangs will diminish in intensity and frequency, if not disappearing altogether.
At this point you'll get a clear picture of just how often you're truly hungry. I started getting the daily recommended 8 glasses of water a day (64 ounces), and it paid off with fewer cravings between meals. Give your body what it really wants and you'll feel more satisfied than ever.
2. Use Portion Control
The best technique for anyone looking to lose weight and keep it off is portion control.
Too many of us are over-eating on a regular basis. Take me, for instance. I used to eat four or five slices of pizza in one sitting or order one of the biggest burgers on the drive-thru menu, not to mention gobbling the fries and soda that came with the meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner—it didn't matter. I was eating way too much at every meal.
And the problem wasn't so much what I was eating (although I had to be careful about that, too), but how much I ate.
I found that once I limited myself to one or two slices of pizza, then I was fine. Or when I was in a rush and needed the convenience of a drive-thru, I ordered only the burger and skipped the fries and drink.
I do the same thing whether eating at a friend's house or going out to eat, and it's paid incredible dividends. Skip the extras and the sides, and decline the chance for appetizers. But if you do have sides, make sure it's a smaller amount than what you normally have.
3. Take Your Time With Your Food
The key to portion control is, of course, patience. In addition to eating too much, most of the time I ate too quickly.
I would go back for seconds before giving my body time to register the first meal. I let my body fool me into believing that I was still hungry. As a consequence, I continued eating more and gaining more weight.
So not only did I start portioning off my meals, but I would take a small break from them. Not a big break (you don't want your food to get cold!). Just a few minutes to let the first half of your meal digest in order to avoid over-eating.
I've done this many times and am amazed at how much my hunger drops than when I first started eating. As a result, I've eaten less, many times not even finishing my food. Try it with your next meal and you'll be able to stop your tendency to over-eat, which is a crucial obstacle to losing weight and being able to keep it off.
4. Cheat Meals
Cheat meals, when restricted to one or two a week, can be great for helping you stay relaxed and confident in your diet plan. By the time the cheat meal rolls around, you will have curbed your cravings by drinking plenty of water and by controlling your portions and over-eating. This will give you confidence to know that your cheat meal won't have as much of an impact on your weight than it would have before.
But before you get carried away and inhale your cheat meal, remember that portion control still applies. Take your time with it, go slowly, and don't get as big of a portion as you normally would. If it's a slice of cake, ask for two forks and split it with a friend. Or take a break halfway through. Then see how hungry you are when you come back to your food.
At the very least, however, make sure you give yourself time after the meal to allow what you've just eaten to register with your body. Always avoid over-eating, even with cheat meals. This will ensure that you are losing weight and keeping it off for good.
5. Cook Enough to Make Leftovers
For the longest time, I cooked just enough food to last me through the meal I wanted to eat. I'd do the same thing for dinner the very next night. And the night after that. Too much of this routine would often discourage me from cooking after a few days, opting instead for the much easier route of take-out or drive-thru food.
One way I've learned to combat this is by cooking enough food to last me for a few days. I bought storage containers and packed the leftovers in the fridge. Then the next night, I'd have a meal in the few minutes it took the microwave to heat it up. It virtually wiped out my desire to buy take-out.
Another trick is to cook a lot of food on Monday, store the leftovers, and then cook a lot of another type of food on Tuesday. This way you'll have some options for the rest of the week, as opposed to eating only what you made on Monday. Most leftovers are good for up to seven days, so there's no rush to eat everything within a couple days. This is helpful for those days when you have your cheat meal or eat at a friend's house. You can skip a night and know the food will still be good the next day.
If you implement these five easy habits into your daily routine, you're very likely to see yourself losing the weight while still enjoying many of the same foods. And the best part of all? You'll keep the weight off because you're not over-eating or giving yourself a chance to crave. It takes time and perseverance, because you'll see friends around you gorge themselves on whatever they feel like. But stick with it and you'll never feel hungry again, all the while losing weight and keeping it off.
For those that like to keep everything really simple and easy, there are established diet plans that build on these ideas. For example, both the Medifast Diet and Nutrisystem Diet focus on portion control (completely taking care of this for you) and eating healthy, but they also allow for snacking. Simply add in the suggestion for drinking plenty of water and remember to take your time while eating, and you are set.
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