One of the biggest missteps I see clients make when committing to losing weight is to assume that they need to change their lives in really big ways. The tendency is to sign up for a marathon, join a gym or start a new diet. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these choices, most people fail to stick with them. More importantly, such major changes aren’t necessary for sustained weight loss.
The key to losing weight and keeping it off is to make small, incremental and sustainable behavioral changes that, over time, make a significant difference in the overall development of a healthy life. Start with changes that are so small and manageable that you know you can’t fail. This process of slowly moving the dial toward your ideal weight will make the overall experience relatively painless.
Here are three simple ways you can get started with your weight-loss journey:
1. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier.
Why will more sleep help you manage your weight? Two hormones — leptin and ghrelin — are your hunger-management hormones, and they are controlled largely by sleep. If you get too little, you’ll find yourself more hungry and craving starchy foods throughout the day. When you get just the right amount of sleep, these hormones (and your appetite) will stay in check. So try getting to bed 15 minutes earlier than you normally do. And when that becomes manageable, add another 15 minutes.
2. Ditch the sugar in your drinks.
The perils of drinking sugary sodas are well documented. But did you know studies show that diet soda sweetened with aspartame or sucralose can increase your appetite? If you enjoy carbonated soft drinks, opt for a club soda and a squeeze of lemon or lime, or look for sodas sweetened with stevia (a natural sweetener that doesn’t have the same insulin impact as artificial sweeteners).
To that end, if you’re still drinking fruit juices, check the label and see how many grams of sugar per serving it contains. A glass of orange juice can contain up to 25 grams of sugar per serving, which equates to about five or six cubes of sugar.
And if you’re adding sugar to your coffee, try stevia as the sweetener instead. This can really add up to significant calorie savings.
3. Eat protein at every meal.
Protein is an essential component to your weight-loss strategy. One great approach is to consume at least 30 grams at breakfast, which has been shown to reduce cravings and hunger throughout the day. Protein is also essential for building and maintaining lean muscle during the fat-loss process.
With just a few adjustments to your diet you’ll start to see positive results. And with momentum comes increased personal motivation to do more and get even better results.