1. Set a goal
Whether you want to lose weight, save for a dress or put down a house deposit, you need to work backwards from the goal. And the best way of doing that is by writing down the steps you’ll need to get there. Peter Walsh, author of Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? says he’s had so much success helping people clear their clutter because he focuses on clarity of purpose. “The first step is to define the life you want. If you can do that, you’re halfway to getting it.”
2. Clear the clutter
Use kitchen counters for food preparation only, not storage (so no cookie jar), advises Walsh. He takes a hard line when it comes to visual distractions: “Most kitchens are littered with gadgets, but you can’t make your healthiest food choices in a cluttered, disorganized space. You wouldn’t eat in a messy restaurant, would you?”
3. Eat at home more often
To save money and pounds, start tracking how often you eat out and how much you spend on those meals each month, then gradually cut back. “People who eat out a lot tend to eat less-healthy food and to be heavier,” says Melodie Yong, dietitian for the Heart and Lung Institute of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. In fact, the decline of cooking at home tracks very closely with the rise in obesity over the past 30 years, she notes.
4. Increase metabolism by getting more sleep
Not only do we crave unhealthy comfort foods when we’re tired, but our sleep levels are linked to our hormone levels, says Joey Shulman, author of The Last 15—A Weight Loss Breakthrough. “People who are sleep-deprived tend to have more secretions of the hormone cortisol, so they’re more stressed out. And that’s going to trigger fat storage as well,” she says. Lack of sleep also causes fluctuations in the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, which indicate whether you’re full or hungry.
5. Vary your fitness routine
No matter how good the fitness plan, sticking with the exact same routine day after day is hard—and discouraging. Try a different workout for every day of the week, each focusing on a different body part, recommends celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, who has worked with stars such as Halle Berry and Katherine Heigel. Whether you vary the number of reps you do or make a switch from cardio to resistance training, it’s important to vary your routine enough so you don’t get bored. “At least one thing should be different daily,” he suggests.
6. Eat more at breakfast and less at dinner
A U.K. study of 6,764 men and women aged 40 to 75 determined that those who ate the most calories at breakfast gained the least amount of weight, regardless of the total number of calories consumed during the rest of the day. Looks like brekkie truly is the most important meal of the day.
7. Rethink what’s delicious
“When we see food we like, we are exceedingly compelled to eat it,” says Alain Dagher, a neurologist at the he Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. “Unfortunately, our brains are likely wired to value high-calorie foods, which is important if food is scarce or difficult to obtain,” he explains.
One way to counter this is to increase the appeal of low-calorie foods by thinking about them more positively.
8. Don’t skip meals or snacks
Skipping breakfast is a sure-fire prescription for overindulgence later in the day. Breakfast choices also help to tame cravings and maintain energy levels throughout the day. Night-time munchers are often breakfast-skippers, or those whose morning meal falls short on balance.
9. Get support
Losing weight—even just five or 10 pounds—takes true commitment, so it’s no surprise that people who have support from friends or family tend to experience more success with healthy eating and fitness regimes. Share your goals with friends and family who you think will be supportive of your plan.
10. Stop dieting
Diet plans favoring grapefruits, cabbage soup, food combinations or even low-fat regimens are not the answer to weight loss. If you have been considering dieting because you think you ought to, give some thought to this fact: the vast majority of dieters eventually go back to their pre-diet weight or become heavier than they were before. If a range of foods is designated as forbidden, dieters feel guilty if they transgress, which makes them feel worse about themselves. Balance is the key. To reach and maintain a reasonable body weight, you need a balanced diet full of nutrients to prevent disease and to ensure optimal energy and psychological well-being.