I subscribe to an email service where the media puts out questions or articles they’d like input on. I recently came across a query asking about what it really takes to lose weight and keep it off. It seems so elusive, right? So today I’m sharing what I believe to be the top 5 secrets to weight loss success.
If you’ve ever gone on a diet or lost weight, then gained it all back, you know the frustration and maybe even desperation that goes along with the territory. I have certainly experienced it.
I started dieting honestly in middle school but very intentionally in college. I lost 15 pounds or so, excited to hit the beach for Spring Break in my smaller body. I remember heading down in the car with my best girlfriends munching on chips and m&ms because I had already done the hard work and lost the weight! And I’m sure you can guess what happened next – my weight fluctuated up and down for years, gaining and losing the same 30-40 pounds over and over again.
It was an extremely frustrating and hopeless feeling. The negative self-talk was at an all-time high. I’m an avid journaler and looking back on how I spoke to myself, it’s no wonder I used food as a coping mechanism to any and every emotion. I say all of this because if you’ve fallen prey to diets and experienced significant weight gain or loss, I know how you feel. And it’s not your fault.
Weight Loss Truths
Our brains are biologically hardwired to survive and thrive. They’re insanely smart and complex and work to maintain homeostasis at all costs. But diets (aka a form of starvation) work against nature, and the body will eventually compensate, either by bingeing on food when it’s actually available or even by slowing down your metabolism.
I’m not saying weight loss is impossible or that anyone is wrong for wanting to lose weight. It’s one of our biggest indicators of health and longevity. But I am saying it will take time, patience, intention, an evidence-based approach, and more mental and emotional effort than you may expect.
So when I came across this query asking about the secrets to weight loss success – I couldn’t help but reflect, respond, and share my answers with you all too. We’ll start with the tactical stuff then dig a little deeper.
Eating copious amounts of vegetables is one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off for so many reasons. They are naturally low in calories, high in fiber which keeps you full, and full of nutrients that make you feel amazing. Also focusing on adding more vegetables to your plate automatically allows you to replace more foods that are high in calories, saturated fats, and sugar. Finally, you can eat a large volume of food without feeling deprived or restricted. Veggies for the win!
Did you know our bodies are made up of 60% water? And every single cell in our bodies requires water to function? Dehydration can cause fatigue, impaired brain function, headaches, poor mood, and so much more. Staying well hydrated reduces the likelihood that you’ll overeat at meals. Plus, the more water you drink, the less you’ll have drinks with added sugar and empty calories. I recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily to every single person I meet with. It’s a non-negotiable for a healthy lifestyle and sustained weight loss!
Getting in some movement most days of the week is another key to losing weight and keeping it off. Obviously, you burn more calories in a day when working out, but it also works wonders for your mood, boosts metabolism, and helps you sleep better. Exercise also just gets you in the mindset of a healthy lifestyle and acts as a cornerstone habit to trigger other healthy behaviors.
When you have a sense of purpose in life, you’re passionate about it, you fight for it, and you are laser-focused on it. Knowing what it feels like to have a purpose sets you up for the grit and determination it takes to lose weight and keep it off by leading a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, if you do end up doing a restrictive diet, you might get a little obsessed with it – this definitely happened to me and most people that diet. When you have a purpose and goals to work toward, you’re simply too busy to waste time counting calories or worrying about the number on a scale. Knowing your purpose and focusing your energy on that will prevent you from the cycle of constantly dieting and weight loss/gain.
Ah, probably the most important part of successful weight loss is self-love, respect, and worth. Weight loss is relatively simple, but it is not easy. Behavior change is hard, but loving yourself enough to do that difficult work is essential to the process. You have to love yourself enough to respect your hunger and fullness cues, you have to love yourself enough to wake up in the morning and workout when you’d rather sleep, you have to love yourself enough to know that you’re healthy and happy and restricting yourself too much just isn’t worth it, you have to love yourself enough to keep up with the habits and behaviors that you know make you feel your best. Loving yourself enough to best the best version of yourself is absolutely crucial to weight loss success.
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Tips to support the secrets to weight loss success:
- Get yourself a big ole water bottle and sip on it all day long. I love my hydroflask
- Sparkling waters like LaCroix or Waterloo make it easier to hit your daily water goal
- Avoid drinking soda, juices, and too much alcohol. It may just be easier to keep them out of your home!
- Fall in love with vegetables! Roast veggies on a big sheet pan or in an air fryer
- Prep a large container of a marinated kale or hard veggies for the week
- Wash and chop veggies for easy snacking or salad assembly
- Throw in some spinach, cauliflower, or zucchini into your morning smoothies
- Schedule exercise like you’d schedule a meeting. Research shows those who exercise in the morning are more likely to get it done
- Track exercise. Seeing progress and growth leads to motivation to keep going
- Set out your workout clothes the night before
- Whatever type of movement you do, you should enjoy it. Exercise is much harder when you dread the workout
- Set regular goals and track your progress. I love the best self journal for this!
- Journaling, reading books about self-love, and speaking kindly to yourself are all helpful on your self-love journey
- If self-love feels particularly hard, you may want to consider speaking to a therapist
- Celebrate your wins, accept compliments without hesitation, and practice daily gratitude