Even creating balance has a starting line. Before you start cutting out unhealthy foods and hitting the gym twice a day, it is helpful to get into the mental mindset of losing weight, and really making strides towards an entire life change.
It may seem like a silly thing, but if you’re a mindless muncher, having a full bottle of water at your desk can help you resist taking that doughnut from the morning meeting. “Last thing you want to confuse for thirst is hunger,” warns Keri Gans, nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet.
Motivating yourself to lose weight is a multifaceted issue. A huge part of it is not only eating “better,” but also understanding what those foods can do for your body to keep you focused on your weight loss goals. “Don't think of losing weight as a punishing task of self-denial,” warns medical weight loss expert Dr. Sue Decotiis, M.D. "Consume a protein-filled breakfast and a lunch and dinner of vegetables and protein. To help the fat burning and stave off the cravings, start [with] a strong probiotic [a food that will help digestion, like yogurt] to enhance the gut’s ability to signal fat cells and to promote satiety.”
Depriving yourself is a surefire way to have an opposite effect and will cause you to overeat. “Rev up your metabolism with small meals and snacks,” says Jacqueline Gomes, registered dietitian and owner-operator of CKO Kickboxing in Lyndhurst, N.J. “Plan to eat a snack that consists of carbs and protein about two hours before your workout.”
For folks who like to snack, it is all about choosing wisely. “Don’t hide your fruit and vegetables in a low shelf or drawer in your refrigerator," suggests Gans, "but put them front and center so you them when the door opens. [That serves as] a gentle reminder of what you should be grabbing.”
Sometimes actions speak louder than words. Physically surrounding yourself with positive and subtle reminders can keep your motivation up. “Lay out your workout clothes the night before so they are the first thing you see when you wake up,” advises Gans.
To really motivate yourself to get into the swing of living a healthier lifestyle, you have to tackle issues head on. “Saying ‘I want to lose weight’ is too vague,” states Tsilimparis. “But saying ‘I want to lose five pounds in two months’ is a more concise goal you can aspire to.”
Just as Tsilimparis suggested, writing down everything can help keep you focused, even outside of what you ate that day. “When you first start an exercise program,” says Gomes, “It’s helpful to jot down your gym time into your planner so that you don’t make other appointments or other plans during that time.”
Sometimes staying motivated means surrounding yourself with positive choices and preemptive decisions. There are little things you can do around the house to help keep you on track. “Plan your meals for the week,” instructs Gomes. “Hit the grocery store with a list of foods that correspond to specific meals. Pre-prepping meals on the weekends save a lot of time during the week. Pack it to go. Pre-packed lunches and snacks make choosing healthier foods throughout the day easy.”
There is a lesson in the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Doing too much too fast can cause enough frustration and exhaustion to make you want to quit. “Start off [exercising] with three nonconsecutive days a week. It’s just the right amount of activity to keep you healthy while not burning you out.” This also applies to your diet in general. “Don’t make your goals too large," cautions Gans, "but rather choose one small change each week to work on.For example, instead of focusing on eating healthy at all meals throughout the day, pick one — improve it, and then move on to another.”
Don’t keep your goals to yourself, it will only make them harder to accomplish! “When you tell people, you are accountable for your actions,” says Tsilimparis. “You have so many outs if you keep it a secret.”