1. Make a Plan1 of 17
Know what you plan to eat and then...eat it. Yes, a novel idea, but it works. Having no plan is the equivalent of planning to fail. Life will throw you curve balls in the form of office parties, dinners out and impromptu cravings. But you can dodge those curves by keeping healthy snacks on-hand and practicing portion control.
2. Eat Often2 of 17
Eat the right foods often, that is. Eat donuts five times a day, and you'll have little chance of getting or staying thin. Instead, eat small, healthy meals every three hours to keep hunger at bay and keep your metabolism working for—not against—you.
3. Learn to Love Fruits and Veggies3 of 17
If most of your meals consist of meat and potatoes or pasta and cheese, swap these high-calorie choices for more fresh produce. You'll learn to crave fruits and veggies in no time. Ideally, your breakfast should be half fruit, and your lunch and dinner, half veggies. Keep your snacks to a similar ratio, too.
4. Avoid Temptation4 of 17
If you keep your pantry loaded with chips, cookies and other high-calorie snacks, and then dare yourself NOT to eat them, then you are walking directly into the lion's den. Instead, keep your kitchen stocked with healthy foods to avoid temptation.
5. Rotate Your Meals5 of 17
Don't eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Three times a week, rotate three meals of your choice. For breakfast, cereal is okay, as long as it's high in fiber and whole grains and low on sugar. Oatmeal, Greek yogurt or eggs are good choices, as well. Fun tip: Always include fruit.
For lunch, rotate meals more frequently. Need ideas? Salads with low-calorie dressings, sandwiches on whole grain (minus the mayo), eggs (unless you had them at breakfast) and broth-based soups (no cream allowed) are all great choices. Again, always include fruit or a side of vegetables.
For dinner, rotate five healthy meals that include foods like chicken, fish and whole grains. Make veggies a staple. You can get creative; just be sure to stick to the proper ratio of fruits and veggies.
6. Hold the Sauce6 of 17
Beware of the hidden calories in sauces. Use tomato sauce instead of alfredo on pasta, substitute hummus or mustard for mayo on a sandwich and make your own low-calorie salad dressings. Just add a little ranch seasoning to plain Greek yogurt, or a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
7. Go Easy on the Nut Butter7 of 17
Almond butter, peanut butter and other raw nut butters are a great source of protein, healthy fats and fiber. However, a low-calorie serving size is two level tablespoons; anything above that and you start racking up the calories fast. Measure your nut butter servings carefully.
8. Make Fiber Your Friend8 of 17
If you want to eat less and feel full, then aim for fiber—at least 25 grams a day. Good sources include beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Just make sure to eat high-fiber meals or snacks at least two hours before you run or work out.
9. Don't Shop When Hungry9 of 17
Simply put: You'll be less likely to put tempting foods into your shopping cart if you shop when you're full, not hungry.
10. Eat Slowly10 of 17
Studies suggest that when you eat more slowly, you eat less because your brain has a chance to figure out that you're full. The best way to slow your pace? Avoid distractions while you eat: no computer, no television and no newspaper. You'll pay attention to every bite, eat more slowly and satisfy your hunger with less.
11. Make Your Own Meals11 of 17
When your schedule allows, cook for yourself. Sure, it's easier to grab something to go from a restaurant, but it will definitely be calorie-laden. Control what you eat, right down to the ingredients you put into every dish.
Your diet will allow you to grab the occasional meal out, but cut down on that practice and you'll save on money and calories.
12. Eat Real Food12 of 17
Much of our food comes highly processed in packaged or pre-packed meals. But half of a homemade sandwich is a better weight loss snack than a handful of pretzels and a handful of raw nuts are more filling than a bag of animal crackers. Keep yourself armed with healthy whole foods so you can snack on the go.
Also, pay attention to what your body is really telling you. Eat only when hungry, not when you're bored, sleepy or restless.
13. Monitor Your Intake13 of 17
Even if only for a few days, keep track of what you eat in a journal or mobile app and record the calorie count for each. Many people tend to uncover negative patterns of eating that they can change. It can't hurt to track the number of weekly workouts in your diet journal, as well.
14. Keep Yourself Honest14 of 17
This is where a diet journal helps: Did you work out three days or four? Did you take an extra cookie or not? Being honest will help you track the ways you may be inconsistent in your diet and exercise plan.
Follow a training plan. If you need help, consult with a professional fitness trainer to help construct your unique training and nutrition plan. You'll reach your goals faster and more likely achieve long-term success.
15. Add Mileage15 of 17
The more you run, walk or work out, the more calories you will burn. It's that simple. Start adding miles to your runs or minutes to your workouts in small doses. Can't run a mile yet? Then add a quarter mile at a time until you hit your 1-mile goal. Split your time between morning runs and evening runs, so the increased distance won't seem so overwhelming. That method helps your recovery, as well.
16. Crank the Intensity16 of 17
Once you have recovered and added more miles to your running or workout routine, don't rest on your laurels. Take your intensity to the next level through weight lifting or HIIT workouts.