Whether you are just starting out on the path to losing weight, or you’ve already lost a few pounds and want to keep them off, the key to successfully shedding excess weight is making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Making just a few small changes only helps you lose weight, but by adjusting your eating and exercise habits for the long-term, you can reap benefits such as lower blood pressure, more energy and a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.
Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Spending an hour at the gym several times a week is ideal, but you can burn calories and reap the benefits of exercise without a traditional workout. Park in the space furthest away from the door at work or while shopping, or use your lunch break to take a stroll around the park or mall. If it is practical, walk or bike to work instead of driving.
Engage your friends in your lifestyle change. Instead of meeting for lunch, dinner or drinks, get together for a game of tennis, an exercise class or a walk in the park. Plan a healthy potluck supper and share your favorite low-calorie recipes. Make your interactions less about food and drink and more about sharing an experience.
Identify the triggers that cause you to overeat and the reasons you are not exercising, and think of ways to overcome them. This might mean keeping a stash of healthy snacks in your desk drawer to avoid the sugary treats your coworkers leave in the office kitchen, or choosing a low-impact exercise, like swimming, if your joints can’t handle jogging or aerobics.
Change the way you shop for groceries. Stick to the perimeter of the store and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy products. Don’t shop when you are hungry, and try to avoid taking the kids along to avoid the likelihood of unhealthy snacks making it into the cart.
Learn to cook. Experiment with different spices to add flavor to food, and develop a repertoire of low-fat, low-calorie recipes. If you’re short on time, find healthy recipes that you can cook ahead and freeze, ensuring that you have healthy meals available when you need them.
Adjust your eating habits. Slow down and enjoy the taste of your food; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that eating too fast is a common cause of weight gain. It can take up to 20 minutes for your stomach to feel full; if you finish your meal much sooner, you may be eating more than you need. Eat when you are only truly hungry, and plan your meals in advance so you don’t mindlessly graze instead of having a balanced meal.
Set realistic goals for yourself. According to the CDC, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can improve your overall health. Start off by setting a goal to lose just a few pounds. The psychological benefits of meeting that goal may spur you to continue your efforts.