Four Essential Steps to Weight Loss

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There are hundreds, if not thousands, of strategies for weight loss. These four are the most essential part of any weight loss plan.

You can lose weight without following these strategies, but if you do follow them – you are more likely to experience success without terrible deprivation.

Write it Down

Carry a notebook and jot down everything you eat. Studies show that a food journal can actually help you double your weight loss efforts. A food journal keeps you accountable – you might think twice about the second helping of dinner if you have to write it down.

A food journal is also a cure for a selective memory. You might think you are eating healthfully, but when you look back at your journal you might see a healthy dinner or lunch, but you will also see the muffins from breakfast, the handful of chips from your child’s plate at lunch and the movie popcorn midday. Be honest or miss the point of food journaling. You can pretend you did not eat the brownie, but your body knows you did.

Move More

This does not mean spending hours at the gym. It simply means get up and move every moment you have a chance. Go outside and play catch with your kids. Park farther away from your office. Deliver messages in person rather than via email or text.

Get up and pour your own glass of water rather than ask someone else to get it for you. These moves may seem insignificant, but over the course of a day, they can add up to 200 to 500 extra calories burned, and in one week, that equals a half to one pound of weight loss.

Avoid Restaurants

The more restaurant food you eat, the more calories you consume. Restaurant meals contain, on average, at least 60% more calories than a meal made at home the NPD Group, a market research firm, told USA Today in 2006. Restaurants do not care about your waistline, they care about making money.

They use cheap ingredients and fat, sodium and sugar to boost the taste of their food so you will crave it and buy more. Cook at home as much as possible – even if it’s just a sandwich or whole wheat pasta with marinara.

Stop Drinking Calories

You have heard it before, but it bears repeating. Soda, energy drinks, fancy coffee drinks and fruit juices provide little to no nutrition and satiation, with tons of calories. One can of soda contains 150 calories, and a 32-ounce soda from the local convenience store contains almost 400 calories – the same amount as many meals.

Even a non-fat drink from Starbucks contains an average of 200 to 250 calories. Whole food provides more satisfaction and nutrition, especially if you choose fruits, vegetables, low-fat cottage cheese, nuts, yogurt, hummus or a whole-wheat bagel. Drink water, unsweetened tea, coffee with milk or skim milk most of the time.

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