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Weight loss isn’t just about changing your eating habits and exercise habits. “It’s also about changing your mindset, your behaviors and your environment,” says dietitian Devon Golem. “They all go together.” You’ve probably heard that the majority of men who reverse obesity end up heavy. Adopting a solid, long-term game plan will tip the scales in your favor. These science-backed tactics are designed with that in mind.
01/ Have smart expectations
Before you swear to never let another pig scratch touch your lips, seriously think about the commitments you make and the results you anticipate. Weight loss takes time and you will find that it rarely happens at a predictable pace. “There will be times when you will see dramatic changes and then it will plateau for a while,” says Dr. Golem. Your motivation will also experience ups and downs. Knowing this ahead of time will help minimize your risk of quitting after food slips or weeks of no progress.
02/ Think bigger than food
You can’t just adopt a new diet and not change anything else in your routine. “Things like sleep, exercise, and stress are all interconnected,” says Dr. Golem. “When you ignore one, it can sabotage the others.” An example: evidence shows that suboptimal sleep (less than seven hours) causes us to overeat. You will get the best results if you actively seek ways to take better care of your body in all areas of life.
03/ Forget quick fixes
When you want to lose a significant amount of weight, you need to turn your healthy changes into instinctual habits. “You want to get to the point where eating this new way becomes second nature,” says Dr. Golem. It takes practice, but you can set yourself up for success by viewing each new diet change as a permanent change. This mental shift will help you spot resolutions (eg, “I’ll have green juice for breakfast every day”) that are likely to be sustainable.
04/ Master a single habit
Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to create 20 new habits at once. Start with just one, says Dr. Golem — whether that’s drinking two liters of water a day or removing the dashboard from vending machines at 3 p.m. Taking on too much too quickly can lead to frustration and overwhelm you. Instead, gradually build your habits like Lego blocks.
05/ Don’t be obsessed with numbers
Achieving an objective weight loss goal (“I lost the first stone!”, “I lost a waistline!”) is fine, but don’t get too carried away with the numbers. Dr. Golem also suggests setting some subjective goals. Do you want to have more energy? Move more freely? Focusing on these unquantifiable metrics of weight loss can give you extra motivation when you’re stuck on a plateau. So maybe you weigh the same as last week – but getting up for that 6 a.m. run was easier than ever. It pays to recognize these new feelings as rewards, says Dr. Golem.
06/ Avoid junk food
Before blacklisting cookies and chips, focus on adding more vegetables to your diet – Dr. Golem advises eating seven to eight servings a day. The more you add, the less room there is to indulge between meals. As a bonus, increasing your intake will boost your mood, digestion, and immunity. (New research links high-fiber diets to better mental health.)
07/ Go whole or go home
Swapping white breads for brown isn’t quite the power move you think. Some so-called whole-grain breads have only a negligible increase in fiber compared to their refined counterparts. Check the label to make sure you’re getting 100% whole grain. Better yet, replace the bread with quinoa, oats or freekeh.
08/ dust yourself off
No one achieves significant weight loss without a few slices of pizza. Life is for living, after all. Don’t let these deviations derail your progress. If you’re eating more than expected, Dr. Golem says, “take a step back, calm down, and acknowledge that it’s part of the learning process.” Don’t punish yourself, forgive and move on.