By Anthony Baker

New Year, new you?  It sounds counter-intuitive, but the best way to lose weight is to forget about the diet.  A diet implies drastic short-term change – instead, you should focus on creating healthy, sustainable and long-term habits.  Introduce these seven strategies into your life and you’ll find yourself losing weight in the healthiest way possible.  Why not make 2021 the year you ditch the diet by embracing these effective and transformative lifestyle changes?

Love Plants, Lose Meat. Lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish) can be an important component of a healthy diet.  But red meat and processed meat, products like bacon or sausage, are less beneficial.  Reduce these types of foods in your diet, and instead eat more fruits and vegetables.  Fruits and vegetables are lower in calories and higher in volume than other foods – meaning  you can fill up on them without gaining weight as easily.  Another advantage is that they are high in fiber, which is essential for anybody trying to lose weight.  Viscous fiber, a substance only found in plant-based food, increases nutrient absorption and slows stomach emptying, so you’ll feel full longer. 

Water, Water Everywhere. A simple yet effective strategy is to drink a large glass of water before every meal.  You’ll find that it helps fill you up so you eat less.  You should also try replacing sugary drinks with water.  Carbonated, sweetened beverages tend to be full of empty calories, so they don’t contribute any vitamins or minerals to your diet. They won’t do your health any good so give water a chance instead.

Don’t Let Perfect be the Enemy of Good.
This advice is usually applied to writing or studying, but it also holds true for weight loss.  It’s common to want to give up after making a mistake.  Maybe you couldn’t resist that hot chocolate and slice of cake on a cold rainy afternoon, or an extra helping of your mom’s delicious potatoes at dinner.  It helps to forget about dieting and think instead about how you want to live your life.  You’re making a long-term change for the benefit of your health, not a quick-fix.  Slip-ups and the occasional unhealthy day are okay – treats can be a part of a healthy lifestyle.  Don’t worry if this happens, and don’t give in to the mindset that everything’s ruined so you may as well indulge more.  Reset and start your healthy eating again at the next mealtime.

Think Like a Shark.  Sharks must move forward at all times or else they’ll die.  Perhaps this is a drastic way to look at exercise, but try to avoid sitting still for any length of time.  Last year researchers stated that sitting is more dangerous to your health than smoking.  You don’t need to be in the gym constantly in order to lose weight.  Weight loss can be achieved by small tweaks to your amount of movement throughout the day.  Take the stairs rather than the elevator, offer to make the coffee for everybody else, walk to the store instead of driving, or have a conversation in person at the office instead of email.  These tiny modifications will add up.

Smaller Plates, Smaller Portions. If you already eat healthy and exercise often but you’re not seeing any changes to your weight, portion size could be the culprit.  If you typically serve your food on a large plate, you may be serving larger portions without realizing it.  Switch to a smaller plate and you’ll find that you eat less – without missing the extra food.

Mind Over Matter. We’ve all heard of the buzz around mindfulness, which just means being present and aware in the moment. But how can this help you lose weight?  By thinking about each bite rather than just automatically eating, you’re more likely to stop when you feel full.  Try to avoid electronic distractions such as the television while you’re eating.  You’ll enjoy your food more and ultimately eat less.

Weight loss is never easy, but these simple modifications to your lifestyle can go a long way to helping you achieve good health.  A positive mindset and a focus on nutrition can make all the difference when it comes to your well-being.

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