Whether you’re just starting a new diet, or you’ve been dieting since the New Year, you’re probably looking for ways to be better at dieting and being fit. Who isn’t? But while some weight loss and dieting tips are just confusing or far too difficult to use in your busy life, the ideas in my list of ways to be better at dieting are common-sense and simple. So step off the scale, put down the celery sticks, and let’s get going!
1. Make It a Lifestyle
The first and most important of the ways to be better at dieting is to stop dieting… and start making permanent lifestyle changes. When you do lose weight, it will be for good, and you’ll never have to actually “diet” again! Making the for-good switch to healthy eating and regular exercise will ensure you stay fit and trim without a fad diet or any sort of deprivation.
2. Make Simple Swaps
Eating healthier and dieting don’t have to be difficult – sometimes it’s truly just a matter of making simple swaps. If you normally drink whole milk, switch to 2%. Swap your bread and pasta to whole grain versions. Replace your bland, nutrient-poor iceberg lettuce for a tasty blend of mixed greens with baby spinach. These three swaps alone will help you lose weight and stay fit!
3. Add Exercise
Unless you want to be the skinniest flabby girl ever, you’re going to have to add a regimen of regular exercise to your healthy diet. Regular, strenuous exercise will give you a healthy heart, toned body, and loads of energy… isn’t that the point of dieting, anyway? Aim for five days of exercise, about 45 minutes each day, and make sure to combine stretching, strength training, and cardio.
4. Make Healthy Fast Food Choices
Fast food is pretty much a fact of life for today’s busy girls and women, so rather than trying the near-impossible (banning it altogether), figure out what on the fast food menu is the healthiest choice for you. For instance, rather than ordering a cheeseburger meal with fries and a soda (which contains an entire day’s worth of calories, most of them from fat), order a salad without dressing and cheese. It’s a much healthier choice, and can still be eaten on the go.
5. Skip the Soda
It’s time to ditch the soda, especially diet soda, if you want to be healthy and fit. Why? Regular soda is loaded with nasty chemicals and loads of calories from sugar, without any real nutritional value. But diet soda’s even worse! It contains chemicals that have been linked to increased risk of cancer, but even more insidious is the fact that it’s been shown to actually lead to weight GAIN, not loss! A study from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio suggests that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda trigger your brain to prepare for sugar, so when your soda doesn’t deliver, your body craves those sweets even more… which can sabotage your diet. In fact, the study showed that people who drink diet soda are 70% more likely to GAIN weight than people who don’t drink it at all. “Diet” soda? I think its name is misleading!
6. Color Your Plate
This sounds odd, but the more colorful your meal or snack, the more likely it is to be healthy. Think about it: all those gorgeously-hued fruits and vegetables and greens are exactly what your body needs to be fit and trim… while refined grain bleached breads, fried meats, and the like are bland, boring brown. Fill ¾ of your plate with a rainbow of greens, fruits, and fresh veggies, and the rest with lean protein.
7. Stay Inspired
All of these changes, large and small, can be difficult to make, and to keep to. That’s why it’s so important to stay inspired, to find what motivates you to keep going, and to make these healthy habits stick for good. I have a folder full of inspirational quotes I keep on my computer (and one I have taped to my fridge and vanity) to keep me going when I want to stop. What will inspire you?
8. Go for the Long Haul
Remember in the intro when I asked you to step off the scale? I was being serious. Weighing yourself every day or even every week isn’t going to help you accurately gauge the success of your healthy diet and workout lifestyle. A more accurate measure of your success could be the way your clothes fit or your energy level, or, more technically, a before and after workup by your doctor.
Trying any of these dieting tips will make you a much better dieter, but combining them will make you even more successful! I’m especially fond of the simple swaps, but which of these ideas do you think will work best for you? Or do you have another idea for becoming a better dieter you can share?