You made it.
Winter weather? That’s a thing of the past (at least for the moment). Most of the U.S. is officially through the worst of it. Temps are heating up, the parkas are finally coming off, and … oh dear.
If you indulged in a few too many Paleo double-chocolate brownie bites over the last few months, you might notice that you’re a little thicker than usual. Don’t fret—seasonal weight fluctuation is totally normal. But if you’re itching to shrink back into summer shape, there’s no need to jump on the latest fad diet in order to drop a few pounds. You’ll be way more successful long-term, and probably a lot happier, by simply going back to the basics for weight loss. Use these tried-and-true tips to start making healthier choices—and losing some weight will be a happy coincidence!
Start keeping a food journal
Examining your daily eating habits can be seriously revelatory—it illuminates your food preferences, where you’re doing a good job, and where your diet could use some work. It might sound a little tedious, but for seven days in a row (including weekends, when many of us binge without realizing it) make note of what you eat, how much, and the time of day. At the end of each day, write down how you feel. Do you feel energized? Sleepy? Notice a headache or stomach ache? If so, pay attention: all of these symptoms are signs from your body that deserve to be noticed.
At the end of the week, compare your daily notes. Look at the days that you felt the best and see how they were different from the days that you felt icky. Now you have data that you can draw from to make better food choices, so you have more “good” days and less “bad” days.
Be mindful of your intake
After looking at their food journals, a lot of people are surprised by how much they’re really eating a on a daily basis. If the goal is shedding a few pounds, it might be necessary to reduce calorie intake for a few weeks. Some studies have shown that the calories in, calories out model isn’t exactly applicable for every weight-loss situation, but for short-term weight loss, cutting back on calories can be effective.
Jillian Michaels says this is her clients’ biggest mistake—they assume that they can eat whatever they want just because they’re working out all the time. You can’t outrun a bad diet! Check out Michaels’ advice on how to avoid this diet blunder.
Swap high-calorie, low-nutrition foods for better options
Here’s where that helpful food journal comes back into the picture. Scan your notes for snacks or treats that are high in calories, but not necessarily nutritious. Just because ice cream is made from milk doesn’t mean that it’s good for you! These are the items that you’ll swap out for something that’s better for you—and lower in calories.
Read the nutrition facts on label
So how to decided if something is “better” for you? Read the nutrition label. No brainer, right? Sure, but you’re not just going to pay attention to calories here. Take a look at the macronutrients, micronutrients, and ingredients, too. First, anything that has more than five grams of sugar should automatically be eliminated. And if it includes any trans fats at all, definitely ditch it. Scan the ingredient list for anything funky—artificial sugars, chemicals, and artificial colors or flavors should be avoided at all costs.
Better options will tend to have more protein, less sugar and carbs, and a short ingredient list free of foods with hard-to-pronounce chemical names.
Losing weight and getting healthy doesn’t have to be hard, frustrating, or painful. It can be simple, especially when you pay attention to how you’re fueling your body.