As the sun comes out, so do our weight-loss aspirations. Unfortunately, after a winter of seemingly non-existent energy, tons of comfort eating, and sluggish workout sessions, it’s easy to put off change. Every day, we say “I’ll start tomorrow.” But if you follow these 11 simple strategies today, tomorrow really will be the day.
Ask Yourself Why You Really Want To Lose Weight
If you’re going to quit your junk-food habit and change your lifestyle for good, you are going to need a deeper source of motivation than “I want to fit into a size two,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., senior science advisor at Elements Behavioral Health. So ask yourself: Why do you want to fit into a size two? The most motivating reasons are intensely personal, she says. Maybe your best friend has asked you to hike Machu Picchu with her, you can’t keep up with your kids any more, or you want to feel better about yourself.
Write Down Your Goal
It takes 10 seconds and ups your chances that you’ll meet your goal by 42 percent, per research from Dominican University. “Women suffer from wellness amnesia,” says Peeke. “Life is overwhelming, so it’s easy to shift our focus from healthy living to other things.” By writing down your goal—and keeping it where you can see it each and every day—you’ll keep it in the forefront of your mind, right up there with your other priorities.
Raid Your Kitchen
Open the refrigerator, every cabinet, and every drawer. Then as yourself the following: When I eat these foods, will I feel loss of control? Will my body feel bad physically after I eat them? If the answer is yes, throw them out, says Peeke. They’re your trigger foods, and if they are left in your kitchen, you risk overeating, stalled weight loss, and, most importantly, an unhealthy relationship with food. Sure, in a perfect world, you would remove all refined, processed foods from your kitchen. But that's not realistic—and these trigger foods are the most important to ditch, she says.
Think Through Your Trouble Spots
And no, we don’t mean your tummy and thighs. Consider what has caused you weight-loss problems in the past, whether it’s dinners out or emotional eating, says clinical psychologist and diet coach Dr Terese Weinstein Katz. “Just being aware of these issues can help keep you from giving up when you bump into them.”
Prep Some Food
“The more you cook, the easier it is to drop weight and keep it off, period,” says Peeke. But who has time to cook three meals from scratch each and every day? Certainly not us. By prepping healthy foods and meals today, you’ll eliminate the amount of time you’ll spend in the kitchen during the rest of the week, while guaranteeing you’ll eat plenty of healthy home-cooked meals.
Tell Your Best Friends Your Plans
When it comes to weight loss, having accountability from the get-go is huge. But, at the same time, friends who take it too far—guilt tripping you when you do splurge, etc.—aren’t going to help you have a healthier relationship with food, says Peeke. “You have to make sure the people you tell about your desire to lose weight are people you care about and care about you in a gentle way,” she says. For instance, when a server sets down a basket of bread on the table and you start biting your lip, which of your friends will respond by telling the server, “Thank you, but we don’t need any bread. Could you please take it back?” That’s the friend you should tell about your weight-loss goals.
Make A Vision Board
“Women are visual,” says Peeke. “Visual reminders of what we want to achieve light us up like there’s no tomorrow.” So tape some motivating mantras and pictures to a board to remind you of what you want to achieve. Consider pictures of you from when you were at your fittest or pictures of things you want to achieve—like a half-marathon finish line. Whatever you put on your board should build you up and make you feel like, yes, you’ve got this.
Schedule Your Workouts
“If you have a hair appointment, you aren’t going to break it. You work the rest of your schedule around it,” says Peeke. The same should be true with your exercise time. So instead of trying to fit workouts into your free time (who even has free time, anyway?), plan a week’s worth of workouts today. Use pen, not pencil.
Buy Some Cute Workout Clothes
“If you wear nice clothes at work or on a date, it makes you feel good. It’s the same thing in the gym,” says Peeke. And the better you feel about going to the gym, the more often you are going to do it. Go online or hit up the mall: Look for fun, flattering, and comfortable workout pieces that fit your body as it is now, she recommends. As it starts changing, you can reward yourself with some more shopping.
Plan Some Small, Totally Doable Changes
Trying to completely overhaul your lifestyle sets you up for failure and discouragement, says Katz. A better plan: being honest about the small changes that you are willing and able to make starting tomorrow. Can you eat more servings of vegetables? Can you take a 15-minute walk after lunch? What about cutting back on happy hour? What are you really up for doing, and what’s just a pipedream? It’s okay to admit that, no, you aren’t willing to forgo Sunday brunches. Being realistic sets you up for awesome, “I can totally do this!” moments that are so critical to long-term success, she says.
Go To Sleep Early
Turning in on time tonight will help you lose weight tomorrow: In one study presented at the American Heart Association's 2011 Scientific Sessions, women who slept only four hours ate 329 more calories the next day than when they slept nine hours. That’s largely because he body’s two hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin, go berserk when you skimp on sleep, says Peeke. And you thought beauty sleep was just for those circles under your eyes.