8 weight loss tricks that aren’t about calories
While a healthy diet and portion control are key to weight loss and maintenance, there are some non-food related tricks that can help you achieve and maintain your goal.
- Don’t skimp on sleep. “Not getting enough sleep is known to lead to poor nutritional choices, like donuts for breakfast or fast food for lunch, as well as overeating,” says Dr. Mary Ellen Moore, a family medicine physician affiliated with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.
In fact, University of Chicago researchers found lack of sleep caused bad food choices, overnight overeating and eventually, weight gain.
- Choose non-food related activities. “Our culture is heavily geared toward activities and celebrations that include food and calories, including happy hour, dinners out and sporting event parties,” says Dr. Moore. “Instead of meeting friends for a meal and drinks, suggest going to a museum, taking a class like painting or jewelry making or participating in an outdoor activity such as a walking/running group, riding bikes or kayaking.
- Visualize the life you want. When making a lifestyle change, it’s imperative that you visualize the end result and how you will get there.
“If something doesn’t help you to hit your goal and achieve the life you want, then you need to reevaluate its role in your journey,” says Dr. Moore, who adds this could include activities that, and people who, sabotage your goals, restaurants that don’t serve healthy options or something as simple as avoiding the break room at work if it’s filled with unhealthy snacks.
- Don’t keep too-big clothes for “just-in-case.” Sure, keep a pair of pants to give yourself a visual of how far you have come, but once clothes become too big, either have them altered or donate them. “Don’t give yourself the option of having a wardrobe you can wear if you gain the weight back,” says Dr. Moore. “You are making a lifestyle change.”
- Have a goal outfit. This could be a pair of jeans you want to fit in again or a new outfit you are working towards. Be sure to display it prominently as encouragement. “Don’t buy something more than two sizes below where you are now, or you could get discouraged,” says Dr. Moore.
- Find exercise you enjoy. “Working out is good for weight loss, maintenance, physical health and mental health, so it’s important to find activities you like and can maintain,” says Dr. Moore, who recommends exercising 3-5 times a week for 20-30 minutes at a minimum.
And, according to research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, those who enjoy their workouts may even eliminate the desire to indulge in extra calories.
- Join a support group. You can also join in-person accountability groups (like Weight Watchers), an online accountability/fitness group or start your own support group with friends, family or colleagues. “Having others share your journey can be helpful for encouragement and motivation,” says Dr. Moore. However, she advises that you speak with your physician before beginning any fitness or weight loss program.
- Stay busy. When you are busy pursing active activities (not Netflix binges or movie marathons) that interest you, you won’t have the time or inclination to snack out of boredom or habit. If you have always wanted to explore painting or archery, now is the time to try!
About the Author
Kate Eller, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. She came to Chicago and Advocate in 2014 after living in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Texas. She enjoys road trips, exploring little towns, minimalism, hiking and urban hiking around Chicago.