Beginning a weight loss journey can be intimidating—but half of the battle is simply building the right habits to contribute to long-term success. Many of us want to see results quickly and may be tempted to try fad diets. While these often work temporarily, they are rarely sustainable, and many people end up gaining even more weight in the end.
When it comes to losing weight, slow and steady wins the race. In fact, the CDC recommends losing one to two pounds a month is ideal for lasting weight loss.
In this blog post, we’re sharing 15 healthy weight loss habits that will help you create and maintain lasting results.
1. Keep a Food Journal
Many of us aren’t fully aware of what we eat on a daily basis, so keeping a food journal can be surprising. We may find that we’re eating way more unhealthy foods than we thought. That’s why tracking your food intake is important when trying to change and learn more about your eating habits.
Not only does tracking give you more insight into your eating habits, but it also helps you hold yourself accountable while implementing new weight loss habits.
2. Limit Eating Out
Fast food and take-out may be convenient, but they are often full of unhealthy ingredients that aren’t great for our bodies. Additionally, several studies have proven that fast food intake is associated with weight gain.
Limiting how much you eat out can work wonders for your weight loss journey. When you prepare your meals at home, you have much more control over the ingredients and portion sizes that you use – unlike at restaurants, where you can’t be entirely sure.
3. Build a Support System
Tackling weight loss alone can be daunting. Having friends, family members, or even a weight loss group to share your progress with can help with accountability and support.
The science backs this up—it’s been shown that seeing others’ positive progress in weight loss groups can inspire and motivate individuals, leading to a greater chance of weight loss. So, share your journey with a friend or a group, and always stay inspired along the way.
4. Get Plenty of Sleep
It’s essential to prioritize sleep when creating weight loss habits. A great night’s sleep regulates hunger hormones and metabolism, which in turn prevents overeating.
The average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you don’t get enough, try to make a consistent sleep routine that works for you. Turn off your phone, listen to an audiobook, or take a relaxing bath before bed—whatever you need to do to get a good night’s sleep.
5. Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress can hijack your weight loss journey, making you crave comfort foods and encouraging your body to store fat as an emergency response. It can also cause emotional eating and disrupt metabolism.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat high stress. You can try mindfulness practices like yoga or meditation. Additionally, regular exercise acts as a natural stress reliever, supporting weight loss while improving mood.
Never underestimate the power of a good laugh or quality time with loved ones. Remember, weight loss isn’t just about diet and exercise, it’s also about emotional wellbeing.
6. Plan Meals Ahead of Time
One easy habit you can develop is to plan and prepare meals in advance. Meal prepping is a game-changer, eliminating impulsive, unhealthy food choices and ensuring balanced, portion-controlled meals.
To get started, plan a weekly menu, focusing on nutritious, filling foods. Then, dedicate a few hours each week to cooking and portioning. Invest in good quality storage containers for easy grab-and-go meals. The key is to make simple, sustainable meals that are aligned with your dietary goals.
7. Drink Plenty of Water
I’m sure you’ve heard it before: you need to be consuming more water. Drinking plenty of water can aid in weight loss, nourish our organs, give us energy, and satiate our appetite. Sometimes people even confuse thirst cues for hunger cues.
To up your water intake, carry a reusable water bottle with you to prompt frequent sips. Think water’s boring? Infuse your water with fruits, herbs, or a splash of juice for added flavor. You can also set reminders on your phone and try to drink a glass of water before every meal.
8. Eat at Regular Meal Times
Late-night cravings can be intense, and they often disrupt weight loss and cause overeating. Moreover, the body’s metabolism naturally slows down at night, leading to less efficient calorie burning.
Aim for regular meals throughout the day. Ideally, you should eat breakfast within an hour of waking and dinner several hours before bedtime. In fact, research shows that earlier dinners (starting at 5 p.m.) can be beneficial. The goal is to align eating patterns with your body’s circadian rhythm for optimal metabolic function.
9. Get Moving Every Day
Of course, physical activity plays a big role in successful, lasting weight loss. Many of us live sedentary lifestyles, so it’s important to make sure we’re getting the exercise we need.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week.
Anyone can sneak more physical activity into their day, even with a busy schedule or no gym. Incorporate at-home workouts or try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as an effective and quick way to raise your heart rate and get moving.
10. Learn About Balanced Diets
As far as weight loss habits go, a balanced diet may be one of the most important. Eating nourishing, nutrient-dense foods can help your body function efficiently, support satiety, and create a healthy relationship with food.
A balanced diet consists of lean proteins, whole grains, plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Variety and moderation are key. It’s also advisable to limit processed foods and sugary snacks, as they’re often high in empty calories.
11. Focus on Portion Control
Lots of times, it’s not what you’re eating that’s causing the problem, but how much. Portion control is crucial for weight loss as it prevents overeating, even of healthy foods.
To master it, use smaller plates to trick your brain into feeling satisfied with less. Fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with whole grains. Lastly, eat mindfully, savoring each bite to enhance satisfaction and recognize fullness cues.
12. Register Your Body’s Hunger Cues
Are you actually hungry, or are you just bored, stressed, tired, or emotional? Sometimes what we think is a hunger cue is actually something else entirely.
Hunger cues are the body’s natural signals indicating a need for nourishment, such as a growling stomach or low energy. Emotional eating, on the other hand, is driven by stress, boredom, or sadness.
For lasting weight loss, it’s crucial to differentiate between real and imagined hunger. Emotional hunger typically comes on suddenly, whereas physical hunger develops gradually.
13. Spend Time in the Sun
Vitamin D not only elevates our mood and keeps us healthy, but it can also help shed weight by regulating appetite and fat storage. A 2018 study found that BMI among participants dropped significantly after introducing a vitamin D supplement for six weeks.
So, how can you incorporate more vitamin D, even if you’re inside for most of the day? For starters, try opening the blinds or taking short outdoor breaks. Fresh air and sunshine have the added benefit of lowering stress.
14. Eat a Solid Breakfast Daily
Remember: breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it needs to include the right ingredients.
Protein is essential at the start of your day to help with hunger levels and satiety. If you’re go-to is a piece of toast or cereal, consider adding a protein-rich food to balance your breakfast.
For example, you could eat Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, a protein shake with berries, or an omelet with your favorite veggies.
15. Set Realistic Goals
Lastly, cultivate the habit of SMART goal setting. SMART goals are:
This method promotes success by establishing clear, manageable steps that you can take to have lasting weight loss. It also emphasizes the importance of realistic goal setting. If you set goals that are too far-fetched, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Be kind to yourself and think about what you can realistically achieve in a certain amount of time.
Healthy weight loss habits are achievable, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Start by changing the way you approach sleep, stress, and eating patterns. Over time, you’ll find that weight loss doesn’t have to be difficult or restrictive.
Remember that it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to diet or exercise routines.
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