You may be tempted to hide your pudge under a bulky sweater and try to deal with it in a month or two, but that hide-it strategy only lasts so long. Still, before you get on the scale and obsess over every ounce or severely restrict your calories, realize that most of the time, these extreme tactics don’t work. That’s because for sustained weight loss and maintenance, you need to have specific goals and stay motivated...
“Spend as much time in your bathing suit, or naked, as possible so you are constantly aware of your figure,” says Matty Whitmore, former Survivor finalist and celebrity fitness trainer at Spectrum Athletic Clubs. Hanging out in the buff may seem uncomfortable at first, but it may become liberating as you take stock of your body’s pros and cons and positively take stock of ways to improve “target” areas while appreciating your natural beauty.
Don’t waiver in your goals, says Joey Gochnour, registered dietitian nutritionist, certified personal trainer, and owner of nutritionandfitnesspro.com. He advises setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
“Start with a small goal you know you will achieve rather than one you won’t that will discourage you,” says Gochnour. “Smaller goals will empower you. Reach them, then set a new goal. You have momentum now.”
If your goal is sustained weight loss, find inspiration from others who’ve lost the weight and kept it off. “Hearing someone else talk about how they succeeded often shows us that we can do it too,” says Georgie Fear, registered dietitian, nutrition coach, and author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss. “It didn't take superhuman effort, just some smart, consistent changes to their diet and activity. Changes that you can make, too.”
If you want to lose weight, you probably think you should check your weight every day. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. “The scale can create a negative judgment spiral where you feel bad about your body and yourself when the number doesn’t decrease," says Dr. Ellen Albertson, psychologist, nutritionist, licensed wellness coach, and founder of SmashYourScale.com, who recommends not weighing yourself or doing so only a few times a month.
Instead of worrying about how many pounds you’re losing, concentrate on what’s on your plate. “Focus exclusively on eating, not on weight,” says Karen Koenig, psychotherapist, eating coach, and blogger. “Eating is the beginning of the process and weight loss is the end.” She recommends eating mindfully, and only eating when you’re hungry. “Stop when you’re full or satisfied and your weight will take care of itself,” says Koenig.
You’re on Instagram and Twitter anyway, so why not use the sites to boost your weight loss motivation and fast-track your way to success? “Try fitness socializing,” says Whitmore. “Join meet-up groups for exercise where friends and people that share your interests hold you accountable, not just your fitness trainer.”
“Having some personal commitment statements, or ‘mantras,’ can be a really helpful way to keep you on track,” says Molly Carmel, director of The Beacon Program, which helps people lose weight and transform their lives by changing eating behaviors. Carmel says mantras should answer the question, “Why do I want to succeed at weight loss?” Responses can be whatever you want, including living a good life or being a better parent. Once you have one or more mantras, create reminders to keep you thinking of your goals. “Plan to have reminders pop up in your phone with some of your mantras, put notes on your mirrors, in your desk at work, on your computer screen,” she says. “The more reminders the better.”
Enlisting the help of a buddy can keep you focused on your goals. “Get a friend who has a history of staying committed to whatever they do and would welcome company,” says Gochnour. Whether your friend keeps you accountable for exercise, meals, or emotional eating, having a supportive pal can be a real motivator.
A structured diet can keep your weight loss on track. “You can’t just say ‘I want to eat healthier,’” says Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Maria Marlowe. “You have to have a plan. What are you going to eat for breakfast lunch and dinner? What are you going to buy at the grocery store? What will you cook? What are you going to order when you go out?” Creating this structure will help you plan ahead so you’re not tempted to stray from a healthy mindset.
Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. But instead of eating a candy bar or ordering a latte, “reward yourself with things other than food like trips [or] new clothes,” says Whitmore, who also advises inspiring yourself with weight-loss games like doing squat-a-day challenges.
Turning off the TV can help you stay focused on moving and eating healthier. “Television watching is associated with higher BMI,” says Albertson. So get off the couch and get going! Research also indicates gaming and using tech devices like tablets and smart phones contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which can inhibit your ability to lose weight and maintain it.