Don't expect miracles
fizkes/ShutterstockAs much as you fantasize about it, you're not going to lose 20 pounds in a week. Instead, you want to set realistic weight loss goals and then be prepared to stick with your diet plan for weeks, even months. "I tell clients that it takes four weeks to feel better, six weeks to see some differences, and really a full eight weeks to see a lot of changes and long-term results," says Phyl London, a Level IV Master Trainer specializing in Pilates and Group Exercise instruction who created Bodiphy®, a program that brings you through Pilates, Barre, strength, and alignment training. That means you need to stay on track even when the scale isn't budging—because it may start moving the following week! Don't miss how to jump-start weight loss.
Any diet works, as long as you stick with it
Uber Images/ShutterstockLow-carb or low-fat? Don't stress. A study published in JAMA found that what diet you choose really doesn't matter if you want to lose weight. What's more important is that you actually follow it. Weight-loss differences between popular diets like Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach, and Nutrisystem—which were all among those included in the study—are minimal. And they have similar levels of effectiveness, researchers found. Check out the weight loss secrets of people who lost 50-plus pounds and kept it off.
If you bite it, write it
Kiattipong/ShutterstockBefore you overhaul your eating habits, try one of our best weight-loss tips: Record everything you drink and eat. Take advantage of apps and website or use pen and paper. Note trouble spots, like that 3 p.m. candy bar or evening bowl of ice cream. "This is the single most important thing you can do when you're watching your calories," says Paige Waehner, a certified personal trainer and author of The About.com Guide to Getting in Shape. "I have so many clients who think they're eating healthfully, but writing down every bite makes you aware of those extra calories you eat without even realizing it. Just an extra handful of nuts could cost you more than 100 calories." Find out what a healthy diet will look like in 2018.
Tell everyone about your campaign
Rawpixel.com/ShutterstockDon't keep your weight-loss goals a secret. Improve your chances of weight-loss success by spreading the word to friends and family about your new diet. It will help motivate you and increase your accountability. "Almost no one succeeds without support from the people around them," says Malia Frey, MA, CPT, CHC, a health coach and personal trainer. "Asking for help is the most important part of your weight-loss program." Don't miss why your diet isn't working.
Sweat the small stuff
Steve Cukrov/ShutterstockA free sample of pizza at the grocery store. A nibble of the cookies your colleague brought into work. A bite of your son's grilled cheese sandwich at the diner. Yes, it may just be a taste here and there but the calories from those BLTs—bites, licks, and tastes—really do add up. So, heed this weight-loss tip: If you're not hungry or a food is not on your meal plan, don't eat it.
Know your areas of weakness
Amarita/Shutterstock"Chocolate and ice cream can be in my house for days and I won't overeat them," says London. "But I can't have tortilla chips, pretzels, or pita chips in the house. Those are the kinds of foods that I'd overeat if I came home tired from a long day at work." Get rid of your triggers. Then, restock with healthy fare like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy foods. And make those healthy foods easy to eat by displaying them in a beautiful bowl on the counter or pre-chopping them and storing them in clear containers in the fridge. That's just one of the ways you can lose weight without a lick of exercise.
Don't pig out at dinner
Pressmaster/ShutterstockAfter a long hard day, most of us tuck into a large meal. However, multiple studies have found that this practice is linked to weight gain. When researchers had one group of people eat a bigger breakfast and smaller dinner, and another group eat the reverse, it was the big breakfast group that lost more weight. And people in the big dinner group actually ended up gaining weight. Check out the breakfast food that will keep you burning calories all day.
Eat on red plates
George Dolgikh/ShutterstockTo avoid overeating, try a scare tactic, courtesy of your dishware. Research shows that the plates you serve your food on impact your perception of taste and flavor. Charles Spence, author of Gastrophysics The New Science of Eating, found that red plates trigger an avoidance or danger signal that leads us to eat less. Here are more simple tricks to help you eat less every time.
Don't follow every trend
Andrey_Popov/ShutterstockSometimes what works best is what works best for you. "Don't assume that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that you should eat every three hours to curb hunger, or that you shouldn't eat past 7 p.m.," says Frey. "These diet guidelines don't work for everyone." Instead, she suggests that you create and follow a meal routine that accommodates you and your needs. "Getting proper nutrition is the goal. The schedule by which you meet those needs is up to you."
Brush your teeth earlier
VGstockstudio/ShutterstockHave you ever brushed your teeth and then had a sip of orange juice? The beverage probably tasted sour and not too pleasing to the palate. That can work to your advantage when you're trying to avoid post-dinner munching. Try brushing your teeth earlier in the evening instead of right before bedtime. "After you brush your teeth, it's much less likely that you'll find yourself snacking on empty calories later in the evening," says Pete McCall, host of the All About Fitness podcast, personal trainer, strength coach, educator, and author. For extra motivation, learn more about why it's bad to eat late at night.