Is weight loss on your to-do list? Knowing how to begin can be the hardest part. These simple strategies can help you start your journey off on the right foot.
Maintaining a healthy weight may help lower your risk of potentially serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. But it’s not always easy to get started. You might not be sure how to approach weight loss to get the results you want. General advice, such as eating healthy and exercising, can be more vague than helpful — where do you turn?
Gaining access to ways to tackle weight loss can put you in a better position to succeed. The following strategies provide easy yet effective ways to begin this journey. Use these steps as a starter guide while working your way toward achieving your weight loss goals.
Track What You Eat and Drink
You might not realize how many calories you eat daily or how often you snack on unhealthy foods. Writing down everything you eat and drink can be an eye-opening experience. It’s helpful in other ways, too.
Tracking what you eat and drink can help you pinpoint where to change your diet. For example, your breakfast foods might be healthy. But you might not be making the healthiest food choices for dinner. Seeing exactly what your diet includes can help you adjust it and plan meals better.
Being more mindful about what you put in your body can also encourage you to be accountable. Since you’re writing down all of the foods and drinks you consume, you might be more eager to choose healthier options. Seeing three unhealthy choices in one day can bring this realization to the surface, helping you create more specific goals.
Increase Your Physical Activity Levels
Getting exercise is linked to an increased chance of losing weight, but it has many other benefits, too — from boosting your mood to reducing the risk of serious health conditions. The amount of exercise you get matters regarding weight loss and overall well-being.
How much physical activity should you get? That depends partly on how much you currently get and how intense it is. Ideally, aim for around 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. You can break that up into 30-minute exercise routines five days a week. If that doesn’t fit your schedule, you can do a couple of 75-minute exercise routines per week.
The type of physical activity you do makes a difference. Moderate exercise can include walking at a brisk pace, biking, dancing, or even doing some light gardening work. You can swim laps, go jogging, or do aerobics workouts for more intense activity.
If you’re already getting some physical activity, increasing the amount may help with weight loss. For example, you might add in one more exercise routine per week. What if you don’t exercise regularly? Don’t overdo it. You might start with simple walks around your neighborhood, then gradually increase the amount of exercise you get.
Cut Back on Processed Foods
Boxed meals, fast food, cold cereals, and baked goods are just a few examples of processed foods. These kinds of foods are convenient to eat and sometimes cost less. But they can make it much harder for you to lose weight.
Processed foods are often filled with high levels of sugar, sodium, or saturated fat. They don’t offer much in terms of healthy nutrients, such as fiber, minerals, and vitamins, filling you up without providing your body and mind with what they need. You’ll find those nutrients in whole foods instead.
When you’re grocery shopping, start by choosing whole food options rather than highly processed foods. For example, skip the cold cereals and choose oats with yogurt and berries. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of chips and other processed snacks. Plenty of fun recipes are out there — get creative and focus on whole foods you love to get started.
Get Adequate Sleep
What does sleep have to do with weight loss? Not getting enough sleep is linked to a higher risk of gaining weight rather than losing it. You might have an increased appetite, less energy for exercise, and a harder time making healthy food choices when you sleep poorly.
Taking steps to improve sleep can benefit your weight loss journey. What are the best ways to do this?
Go to bed and get up around the same time daily to help regulate your sleep cycles.
Make sure your bedroom is sleep-friendly — that includes keeping it quiet, dark, and cool and sleeping on a comfortable mattress.
Stay off of devices, such as phones and tablets, a couple of hours before you go to bed.
Avoid eating a heavy meal or drinking caffeine late in the day.
Find Support From Friends and Family
A solid support network can go a long way toward helping you reach your weight loss goals. Your journey to wellness can be a challenging one. You might sometimes want to give up, especially if you’re not getting the results you want soon enough.
Friends and family can provide you with the motivation you need to continue. They can also help with accountability. When you share your weight loss efforts with loved ones, you’ll be more likely to stick to exercise routines and dietary changes. You can even try to kickstart this journey with someone else so that you can motivate each other and share your daily, weekly, and monthly wins.
Remember, Slow and Steady Wins the Race
As you make your way toward accomplishing your weight loss goals, don’t rush. Aim to lose a pound or two per week. According to the CDC, individuals who lose weight gradually rather than quickly tend to keep the weight off in the long run.
Looking for more tips to help you during your weight loss journey? Check out the ActiveFit+ blog for helpful advice on health and wellness.