The University of Alabama ran an article of good weight loss tips that, among other things, recommended setting several smaller goals to help you lose weight instead of focusing on one big goal. That’s because smaller goals are both more manageable and provide better feedback:
“If we set lofty weight loss goals, like 10, 20 or 30-plus pounds, and we don’t make progress quickly enough, it’s too easy to get distracted and have our emotions convince us that the goal is not achievable,” said Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., director of UAB Employee Wellness.
Whitt explained that breaking down goals into smaller, more manageable short-term targets, like losing one to two pounds per week, can lead to better chances of success.
“Once those first one or two pounds are lost, you can celebrate,” Whitt added. “Then the next mini-goal can become the focus.”
This makes a lot sense for all you Weigthhackers, especially because losing 1-2 lbs a week is a lot easier for most people than losing 5+ lbs a week. And yes, I know you’re probably thinking, I just want to lose it all RIGHT NOW! But the reality is you probably didn’t put on your extra weight in just a few weeks so it would be hard to take it off that quickly.
By the way, when I set out to lose weight a few years ago I had a target of getting down to 175 lbs by my birthday in December. I didn’t actually reach that goal until January, but even though I was “a month late” I’m completely satisfied with the outcome. In fact, I decided to keep going and eventually reached a nice, trim 157 lbs. You know how long did losing that other 18 lbs took me? I honestly don’t remember, because that wasn’t important. What was important is that I finally lost the weight I wanted to, not how quickly I did it.
Using Twitter as part of a weight loss program makes it more likely that you’ll successfully lose weight, according to a new study by the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. The study involved 96 people who were tracked for six months and who were using either an Internet-connected iPhone, iPod Touch, a Blackberry or an Android phone.
All of the participants were sent weekly podcasts that coached them about nutrition, exercise and goal setting. In addition, half of the group received an app that helped them monitor their diet and physical activity, as well as a Twitter app.
“The results show that those who regularly utilized Twitter as part of a mobile weight loss program lost more weight,” said [Brie] Turner-McGrievy of the Arnold School’s Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior.
The study also found that “those who engaged with Twitter were more successful with losing weight, such that every 10 posts to Twitter corresponded with approximately −0.5 percent weight loss.” The Twitter-enabled group used the social networking service to keep in touch with and support each other, and they also received daily tweets from a weight loss counselor.
This is more evidence that using a social network can help you lose weight since we already know that social networks can make weight loss contagious among friends.
Welcome to the New Year, which is traditionally a time when most of us look ahead to how we can improve our lives over the next 12 months. And if you’re overweight, probably the #1 thing on your 2013 To Do list is losing weight. Well, Weighthacker has you covered. Below are 10 of the best tips and hacks you can use to start losing weight quickly and, more importantly, permanently in the New Year.
Read on if you want to start losing weight today:
1) Don’t “Lose Weight”
“Losing Weight” is a great intention for the New Year but as an actual goal it’s terrible because it’s too vague. A better goal would be “lose 25 lbs by the end of March.” People who research goals say being specific does 4 valuable things for you: it focuses your efforts, it keeps you motivated, it makes you persistent and it inspires you to learn and grow.
2) Don’t Got On A Diet
In multiple studies the failure rate of dieting has been pegged somewhere between 80-95%, largely because of one issue: people can lose weight on almost any diet but they gain all the weight back once they go off the diet. So instead of going on a diet, focus on making permanent, sustainable changes to your diet. See tips 1, 3, 4, 5 and 10 for ways to do that.
3) Know How Much Food You’re Really Eating
According to registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner, “Nobody knows how many calories they should be eating, nobody knows how many they are eating, and nobody knows how many calories are in foods.” And it’s going to be hard for you to lose weight if you don’t know any of that. So sign up for a free online service like Loseit or MyFitnessPal that will help you easily understand and track what you eat. In fact, just writing down what you eat each day using something as low tech as a pen and paper will make you more accountable to yourself, which will automatically make you eat better.
4) Know How Much Food You Should Be Eating
There are dozens of free online calculators like this one that will help you figure out how much food you should be eating each day. Using them takes less than 5 minutes and will give you a whole new perspective on your food intake. Once you know how much food you should be eating, it will be easier for you to figure out how to eat the right amount to meet your weight loss goals.
5) Eat Whole, Not Processed, Foods
Whole foods like apples are more filling, have fewer calories and contain more nutrients than heavily processed foods like muffins and bagels. So an easy way to lose weight is to substitute whole foods for processed ones whenever you can. A good place to start is looking at the food label on the back of what you’re buying. In general heavily processed foods will have many more ingredients than whole foods, and they’ll also have ingredients with chemically-sounding names that you don’t recognize. Avoid those!
This one is easy and we were all born to do it: Walk. Many smart people believe walking is the single best exercise you can undertake, and a half hour a day of putting one foot in front of the other is all you need to do to start getting the benefits from it. It’s also free and you don’t need to go to the gym to do it! (I also suggest getting a walking desk if you can swing it. It changed my life.)
7) Track Your Steps
Splurge on a simple Web-enabled device like this Fitbit to track how many steps you walk each day. It will wirelessly upload your data online so you can chart your progress, set goals and (of course) share your info via social networks. Just like tracking your food helps you eat less, tracking your steps motivates you to walk more.
8) Plan To Fail
Losing weight is like playing a video game. You’re never going to do things perfectly the first time you try it, but the more you play the better you’ll get. So go into the New Year knowing that there will be setbacks and pitfalls on your weight loss journey. Instead of letting them derail you, use them as opportunities to figure out what went wrong so you can do better the next time.
9) Mod Your Environment
Using smaller plates, putting junk food in opaque vs. clear containers, and leaving your fruit bowl out in the open are some of the many ways you can mod the environment around you to help you lose weight. Check out this interactive guide from Diane Magazine for 11 tips on how to rearrange your kitchen for maximum weight loss help.
10) Planned Obsolescence
One of the biggest reasons people regain the weight they lose is because once they reach their goal weight, they slowly abandon the habits they used to lose the weight in the first place. 5 days at the gym becomes 3, then 1, then none. A splurge day turns into two days, then into a splurge week, etc. And because you previously lost weight, you fall into the mindset of “well, I can lose it again any time I want.” Before you know it, you’ll be back to where you started or, worse, heavier than you used to be. You can avoid all that by planning to segue smoothly from “weight loss” mode to “maintenance” mode, something most people never consider. When the behaviors you used to lose weight become obsolete, replace them with a new set of behaviors to maintain your progress, otherwise you’ll default back to the old ways that made you overweight to begin with.
To get more weight loss strategies and tips throughout 2013 and beyond, follow me on Twitter at @weigthhacker, over on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also sign up for the Weighthacker newsletter using the form on the right-hand column or pre-order my upcoming book.
Remember, you can lose the weight you want to!
Instead of focusing on any one specific diet, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center wanted to determine what kinds of simple behaviors people could do to help them lose weight. Their ultimate goal was to get people to reduce the number of calories they’re consuming regardless of what types of food they’re actually eating.
They came up with three specific things that you can do to lose weight, all of which are Weighthacker approved:
1) Keep a food journal.
2) Try not to eat out too much.
3) Don’t skip any meals.
I’ve found No. 1 to be one of the most effective ways for people to lose weight since it’s actually hard for your brain to keep track of your food intake (we simply weren’t built for that). Research team leader Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., put it this way:
“For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the No. 1 piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating.”
Skipping meals was actually associated with eating more calories according to McTiernan:
“The mechanism is not completely clear, but we think that skipping meals or fasting might cause you to respond more favorably to high-calorie foods and therefore take in more calories overall.
We also think skipping meals might cluster together with other behaviors. For instance, the lack of time and effort spent on planning and preparing meals may lead a person to skip meals and/or eat out more.”
Eating out is problematic because finding healthy options can be harder, you have little control over what ingredients are in your food, and you don’t control the portion sizes. With restaurants prone to serving massive portions, your’e practically bound to eat more than you intend to.
(from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics via MNT)
Eating apple peels may help your body build muscle mass and increase the amount of “brown fat” you have, two things that will make you burn more calories and thus lose weight. (In case you missed it, here’s why brown fat helps you lose weight.)
It’s specifically the peels that help because that’s the part of the apple that contains ursolic acid, which is what’s doing all the work in this case. Those were the findings from a recent study done on obese mice at the University of Iowa by Christopher Adams, M.D., Ph.D., UI associate professor of internal medicine and a Faculty Scholar at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the UI.
“Our study suggests that ursolic acid increases skeletal muscle and brown fat leading to increased calorie burning, which in turn protects against diet-induced obesity, pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease,” Adams says. “Brown fat is beneficial and people are trying to figure out ways to increase it. At this point, we don’t know how ursolic acid increases brown fat, or if it increases brown fat in healthy mice. And, most importantly, we don’t know if ursolic acid will benefit people. Our next step is to determine if ursolic acid can help patients.”
More work needs to be done to know if this will translate from helping overweight mice to helping overweight humans, but since apples are great for you anyway, this is just another reason for weighthackers to work them into their diets.
The National Weight Loss Registry has been conducting a long running study comprised of more than 10,000 voluntarily enrolled people who have lost at least 30lbs and kept it off for at least a year. They ask members to fill out an annual survey about their weight, diet, exercise habits and their strategies for keeping their weight off (i.e. maintenance).
From the surveys the Registry has compiled fascinating statistics about how people lost their weight and what they do to avoid gaining it back. That last part is key because around 80% of people who lose weight will put most of it back on, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
A major finding of the study is that “nearly all registry members indicated that weight loss led to improvements in their level of energy, physical mobility, general mood, self-confidence, and physical health.” Which reinforces what Weighthackers already know: losing weight isn’t just good for your waist, it’s good for everything.
Here are some of the numbers from the National Weight Loss Registry around losing weight:
- 45% of members lost weight on their own
- 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program
- 98% modified their food intake in some way
- 94% increased their physical activity, most frequently by walking
To keep the weight off, most report keeping their diets low in calories and fat, and getting more physical activity, as well as:
- 78% eat breakfast every day
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV a week
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour a day