Practicing portion control is one of the most reliable ways to lose weight—even if it’s not an easy task. Portion distortion is common, but it may help to use portion visuals. For instance, a serving of chicken (three ounces) is roughly the size of a deck of cards; or holding about a two-inch circle of uncooked pasta, will yield about one cup cooked.
Think on it.
How satiated we feel a few hours after we eat depends not on how much we actually scarfed down, but how much we think we ate. Pay attention to what you eat, and know that it’s okay to eat with your eyes.
Make time to meditate.
Emotional eating—eating to make yourself feel better (often when stressed or anxious)—can interfere with weight loss goals. But meditation—using techniques like muscle relaxation, breathing, or achieving self-focus—can help binge eaters become aware of how they turn to food to deal with emotions.
Repeat motivating mantras
Sometimes we just need a little fire to get motivated. Try out some motivational mantras: “You’ve got this!” “Yes, you will!” “Every day you’re getting stronger!” Hang up an inspirational poster or write your phrase on a sticky note at work. Bonus: Mantras don’t cost a thing!
Add, don’t subtract.
Instead of fixating on cutting cookies, cake, and pizza, focus on adding healthy foods. Ditching all the “bad” stuff can feel daunting. Instead, focus on sticking to one good habit at a time (science says it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit). Add in as many healthy habits as you’d like—drink more water, eat more fruits and veggies—and reassure yourself that in a few months, your brain may actually start to crave healthier foods.
Stress can trigger increased eating and cravings, especially for sugary carbohydrates. If pressure at work or a family burden has got you feeling overwhelmed, try out one of these ways to reduce stress before pawing at a doughnut.
Visualize your goal.
Time spent visualizing what you would look and feel like with a few less pounds, can help acknowledge the health and fitness changes necessary for successful weight loss. Research suggests that imagining achieving an exercise goal—like running a 5K or increasing the weight during your next workout—can actually enhance performance.
Change one habit at a time.
There’s an idea that focusing on less helps us achieve more. Changing a habit is tough, but trying to tackle a handful may seem impossible. Instead, concentrate on changing one behavior at a time. Start small and make clear guidelines. For example, if you’d like to increase your veggie intake, decide to eat three different vegetables each day, or one cup with each meal. And remember, small changes can lead to gradual weight loss.
Think big picture.
So you’ve “banned” chocolate cake, but decide to have a small taste. Instead, you polished off two slices. It’s easy to go overboard on an old habit. Instead of beating yourself up if you fell short, think of the big picture. Focus on the change rather than what’s being eliminated (think: it’s not about the chocolate cake, it’s about not overdoing unhealthy sweets). Live in the moment to successfully make new healthy habits.
Sleep not only reduces stress, helps us heal faster, and prevents depression, it can also help shave off pounds. That’s because sleep loss is linked to changes in appetite and the metabolism of glucose (sugar in the blood). Moral of the story: Sleep is associated with less weight gain. Take a look at our guide to sleep positions to optimize those hours spent under the sheets. And try other solutions for extra Zzzs like turning off electronics in the bedroom and avoiding large meals late at night.
Get a social network.
Check out online communities (on Facebook, Twitter, or other forums) that provide support and encouragement. One study showed that overweight adults who listened to weight-loss podcasts and used Twitter in tandem with a diet and physical activity monitoring app lost more weight than those who did not go social. Sharing progress and setbacks on social media can help you feel accountable for your goals.