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In the age of instant shopping, it can be frustrating to have to wait for results. But when it comes to your body, losing weight too quickly can be dangerous.
If your goal is to lose 10 pounds in a month, you can make it happen with a combination of exercise and healthy eating. But make sure to take care of yourself physically and emotionally while you’re losing weight — slow and steady wins the race.
We’ve put together this list of healthy tips to help. But keep in mind that everyone’s ideal weight is different. Focus on how you feel, not how you look. Crank up Lizzo’s “Feeling Good,” and let’s get started!
You bought the gym membership, the trendy leggings, and even a water bottle with your favorite inspirational quote (“Sweat like nobody’s watching”).
So why have you been wearing those leggings on the couch more than at the gym? It might be because doing the same workout every day is dull.
First, let’s get clear on how much exercise you need: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 2.5 hours of vigorous aerobic activity per week.
In other words, we should all be exercising more days of the week than not. Fortunately, your exercise doesn’t have to happen only on the treadmill. Do whatever you enjoy!
But cardio isn’t the only exercise you need: The HHS also recommends doing muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week for additional health benefits. Lifting weights or using a rowing machine will definitely keep you from getting bored.
The bottom line: Your body craves variety and challenge, so don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut with the same ol’ workouts.
Walking: It’s not just for dogs and the owners lucky enough to carry their poop. In other words, you don’t need to Zumba your butt off to see progress from aerobic exercise.
As long as your heart rate is in the fat-burning zone, you’ll be in the sweet spot for weight loss. You can get up to this level with a brisk walk or a slow jog or by riding your bike at less than 10 miles per hour.
Not sure what heart rate you need to reach? According to the CDC, moderate-intensity physical activity means your heart rate is between 64 percent and 76 percent of your maximum heart rate. And for vigorous physical activity, a heart rate between 77 percent and 93 percent of your maximum should do the trick.
Research shows that eating fewer carbs can be a reliable way to lose weight. You know the drill: Decline the bread basket at dinner or embrace some healthy swaps, like opting for cauliflower rice over white rice or chickpea pasta over wheat pasta.
Of course, you’ve probably also seen the keto diet pop up on your Instagram feed every 5 minutes. The rules of keto are similar to those of the Atkins Diet: Keep your carb intake between 20 and 50 grams a day and stock up on fats and proteins instead.
When your body runs out of glucose (which it usually gets from carbs), it’ll turn to your stored fat into fuel. Burn, baby, burn!
But before you embrace keto or any other new diet that involves significant changes, chat with your healthcare provider or a nutritionist. Low- or no-carb diets are not for everyone, and if you’re restricting foods, it’s essential to do so healthfully.
It can be difficult to stay motivated when you’re making changes with your diet and exercise. No, you’re not the only one who feel likes ditching your goals for another Netflix-and-Seamless sesh!
How you talk to yourself matters. According to a 2012 study, people who use the phrase “I don’t” instead of “I can’t” feel more empowered in their choices.
For example, instead of saying “I can’t skip this workout,” try “I don’t skip workouts.” Or instead of saying “I’m too lazy to cook a healthy dinner,” try “I don’t order takeout on weeknights.”
Focusing on your goals rather than on restrictions can make all the difference when it comes to motivation.
Calories are the energy your body releases when it breaks down food. If you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the excess as fat.
So if you want to burn fat, you’ll need to eat fewer calories than you need for your daily energy. This will cause your body to visit its storage shed of fat for the energy you stored previously.
How many calories should you eat per day if you’re trying to lose weight? Two pounds per week is considered healthy and safe weight loss, and 1 pound of fat contains 3,500 calories.
Calorie counting might seem like the worst kind of math, but you can make it easy as pi (get it? Math jokes!) by downloading a health tracking app.
Apps are an awesome way to keep track of your calorie intake and make sure you’re around your daily limit. (It’s also way easier than keeping track on a piece of paper.) Some great apps to try are Fitbit, SparkPeople, and MyFitnessPal.
Thank the coffee bean gods. Coffee might actually help you lose weight faster — at least in the short term. We all know caffeine helps us perk up when our energy is low. In fact, it increases your resting metabolic rate.
But our bodies become more tolerant to caffeine over time (as anyone with a three-cup-a-day habit can tell you), so drinking a cup of joe can help in the short term but is not a viable long-term weight loss strategy.
And, unfortunately, this does not include your Vanilla Creme Frappuccino or any other drink that’s pretty much a milkshake. (But swapping a sugary blended coffee drink for a regular cup of coffee is generally a good idea.)
We all know the consequences of too little shut-eye: grogginess, lethargy, distractibility. Did you know that not getting enough sleep can also hinder your weight loss goals?
According to a 2011 study, less sleep is linked to increased levels of ghrelin, aka the hunger hormone.
People vary in how much sleep feels right, but The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.
Eating a nutritious breakfast can help you start your day on the right track — and prevent that dreaded midmorning energy crash where you attack the box of doughnuts in the office break room in desperation.
Protein is a good choice for mornings because it helps you feel full and may boost your metabolism. (Plus, you get it out of the way and don’t have to think about eating protein for dinner!)
Shoot for 25 to 30 percent of your total daily calories from protein (500 to 600 calories per day if you’re on a 2,000-calorie diet). Load up on protein-rich foods, like eggs or tofu, first thing in the morning to start your day off right.
Drinking water has so many benefits, including keeping your digestive system running smoothly and preventing dehydration.
But drinking water also reduces your appetite, possibly because it makes you feel more full before you dig in. A 2010 study found that middle-aged adults who drank water before a meal lost more weight over a 12-week period than those who didn’t drink water.
Water can also replace other drinks that aren’t as healthy, like sodas or sugar-filled juices. And you really can’t beat zero calories.
Don’t worry — you don’t have to go stone-cold sober. But it’s no secret that alcoholic drinks are often high in calories (not to mention that they make you more likely to text your ex).
A beer has 150 calories or more, with little to no nutritional value. Just 1.5 ounces of liquor has about 100 calories. Cocktails pack even more, depending on ingredients: A margarita has about 170, and if you like piña coladas, each one can contain almost 500 cals.
It’s always a good idea to limit your drinking to moderate territory. But even if you only enjoy three beers, you’re consuming 450 calories or more. Something to think about.
Alcohol also prevents your body from properly absorbing the vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. That means that even if you’re eating more healthy foods, alcohol could be undoing your efforts.
Reducing your alcohol intake, or not drinking at all, will help keep your weight on the decline.
Let’s talk about added sugars. Sugars that are added to foods during processing add calories without any nutritional value.
The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 36 grams (150 calories) of added sugars per day and women consume no more than 25 grams (100 calories) per day.
The problem is that some beverages have sneaky amounts of sugar in them. For example, 100 percent fruit juice has roughly the same amount of calories and grams of sugar as soda.
Juice bars can seem like good places to stock up on your fruits and vegetables. But smoothies and cold-pressed juices (which don’t have added sugars, like many bottled juices do) actually don’t provide as many vitamins and minerals as you would get by simply eating fruit or vegetables.
They can add unwanted calories, too, since people tend to consume them in addition to (rather than in place of) their meals.
Lots of us make split-second decisions about the food we put in our bodies based on packaging and marketing — like whether it says “healthy!” in big letters on the front.
However, the best way to make informed choices about your food is by reading the fine print. Yes, it’s time to get familiar with food labels.
Many foods are advertised as being “low fat” or providing “energy” — but when you look at the ingredients, you might see that they have more sugar than you want to consume daily. Watch out for added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, and honey.
Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everyone experiences stress sometimes! It’s what we do about it that matters. Some of us cope with stress by skipping meals, eating high fat foods, or eating more than we usually would.
There are plenty of ways to de-stress without messing with your diet and exercise goals. Plop down with a coloring book, take up a calm hobby like knitting, or start meditating on the daily.
Your body, mind, and spirit (and your friends, your family, and everyone else who has to deal with you) will thank you.
Probiotics are good bacteria, found in fermented foods, that target your digestive system. That’s right: We’re talking about your gut. Consuming more probiotics may limit the number of calories you absorb from food and therefore decrease your weight.
However, the research on whether probiotics help you lose weight is inconclusive, and further study is needed.
In the meantime, you may want to add probiotic supplements or probiotic foods to your diet and see how you feel. Try kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha, or yogurt.
Mayonnaise, ranch dressing, teriyaki sauce, sour cream, maple syrup, melted butter — the calories in all those much-loved sauces and condiments add up fast.
Cutting these out of your diet will reduce your intake of sodium, sugar, fat, and preservatives. But don’t worry — your food won’t lose all its flavor! You’ll just have to get a little more creative in the kitchen. Use herbs and spices to add flavor without the calorie gain.
This trick on its own won’t lead to significant weight loss in a month, but cutting calories here and there will add up over time.
Apple cider vinegar is so hot right now. You might have heard that it may help with weight loss, but there hasn’t been much research on the subject.
One small study in 2009 found that people who consumed 15 to 30 milliliters of ACV daily for 12 weeks had a lower body weight at the end of the period. This may be due to increased feelings of fullness. But overall, there’s no conclusive evidence that it works.
If you want to give ACV a try, it’s important to start with small amounts and dilute the vinegar with water before you consume it. Drinking it, even mixed with water, is pretty intense, so you might try mixing it into salads, slaws, or bean dishes instead.
This is one way to lose weight without even changing what you’re eating: Eat slowly.
When you’re nearing hangry territory, it’s tempting to eat quickly. But research suggests that for some people, eating more slowly leads to increased fullness an hour after the meal began.
More research is needed on this topic, but on a practical level, eating more mindfully gives you the opportunity to pay attention to portion size and enjoy your food even more.
Here’s the little-known weight loss secret: Be kind to yourself and consider your overall health and wellness while planning your diet and exercise approach. If your weight loss plan makes you miserable, you’re not going to stick with it.
As much as we tell ourselves being healthy isn’t fun, it should feel good. If you’re not feeling good, change up your routine until you find something that works. If you’re happy, you’re way more likely to stick with it and make long-term progress.
Above all, before embarking on a weight loss journey, talk to a certified personal trainer or registered dietitian.
Loop your doctor in for good measure, especially if you have any health conditions that could be affected by changes in your diet and exercise routine. They’ll be able to help you come up with a goal weight and the safest way to get there.
It’s important to talk to the pros because weight is just one number — it’s not the only or best indicator of your health. In fact, if you’re gaining muscle and losing fat, you’ll actually get heavier, even though you look thinner, because muscle is denser than fat!
Be kind to yourself, and you’ll feel stronger and healthier in no time (well, OK, it’ll be at least a month).