Whether it’s a few pounds or fifty pounds, more than sixty percent of adults want to lose some amount of weight. That is to say that if you have a weight loss goal, you’re in the good company of more than half of the population. The best way to lose weight is very debatable, but counting and restricting your daily caloric intake is definitely the most popular weight loss method.
Counting calories is a common weight loss tool, but it’s also one of the most frustrating, discouraging, and all around brutal ways to try to lose weight. If you consistently restrict your daily caloric intake every day for a period of weeks or months, it’s almost impossible for you not to start shedding pounds. However, counting calories proves to be an ineffective weight loss method for many people because it is such a difficult habit to maintain. More often than not, well-intentioned goals for counting calories and losing weight end in frustration and discouragement. Fortunately, there are many other viable weight loss options that don’t involve counting calories and help you drop pounds in healthy, effective ways without feeling miserable or restricted.
1. Stop Stressing
Reducing stress is much easier said than done. Everyone has stress in their lives, and there is no way to get rid of it completely. However, stress is extremely counterproductive to your weight loss goals. Excess stress triggers your body’s production of cortisol hormone. High cortisol levels tend to increase belly fat and make fat loss more difficult.
Make sure that worrying about your fitness progress or lack thereof is not contributing to your stress levels. When you stop worrying about how much weight you are or are not losing, it’s easier to naturally relax into a healthier lifestyle without constantly feeling pressured and discouraged. Minimize your worries by focusing on how you feel rather than how you look. Avoiding weighing yourself more than once every few weeks can also help reduce weight loss-related stress and anxiety.
2. Rethink Your Balance
A healthy, effective diet is all about balance. In fact, maintaining a balanced diet is much more effective long-term than restrictive diets centered around calorie counting. It’s also much less psychologically taxing to allow yourself to indulge in moderation rather than denying yourself certain foods completely.
The most important parts of your diet to balance are protein and carbs. Protein and carbs should make up about eighty percent of your diet, with the other twenty percent coming from healthy. Many diets claim that minimizing the amount of carbs you consume helps you lose fat more quickly. While this might be true, carbs are an important macronutrient and cutting them out of your diet is not sustainable and not healthy. Ideally, your diet should be composed of fifty percent protein and thirty percent carbs to keep your energy and metabolism up.
3. Shrink Your Dishware
Human senses perceive things in relation to other things. You naturally think differently about something depending on what else is around and influencing your perception. On the topic of portion control, the same amount of food looks very different depending on the plate or bowl that holds it.
If your kitchen is filled with jumbo dishware that holds much more food than you really need to eat, you’ll likely end up filling your plate completely or feeling unsatisfied even if you’re no longer hungry. Using plates and bowls that hold less food helps you subconsciously eat less and consume fewer calories without even thinking about it. You are much less likely to go back for seconds than you are to mindlessly eat your way through a huge portion.
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On the topic of portion control, giant restaurant portions can be a major obstacle preventing you from reaching your weight loss goals. Restaurants tend to serve way more food than you should be eating for one meal. It’s not at all unusual for these portions to add 1000-1500 extra calories to your daily intake.
That doesn’t mean you need to start frantically searching for the calorie count of the meal you order every time you go out to eat. Just be conscious of restaurants’ tendency to serve enlarged portions. Save money and calories by splitting a plate with a friend or date. Or, if you’re a mindless eater, carve out a smaller, more reasonable portion of your meal for yourself as soon as your food arrives and set the rest off to the side to take home with you.
5. Take Selfies
Taking a full-body picture of yourself in a bra and underwear every two to four weeks can be a major motivator for you as you strive toward your weight loss goals. These selfies might make you feel a little uncomfortable, but they help you see visible proof of your progress and hold you accountable to maintaining your healthy habits so you can keep seeing more progress as time goes on.
Don’t let the selfies you take become a punishment or an opportunity for you to criticize yourself for slow progress. Instead, let these pictures act as a celebration of the progress you are making and the continued time and effort you are devoting to becoming a healthier version of yourself.
6. Give Your Hunger a Bedtime
For some inexplicable reason, it always seems much more difficult to stick to a diet at night. Many women easily stick to a healthy eating schedule all day long, but end up snacking on junk food or chocolate late into the night. Prevent your midnight snacks from inhibiting your weight loss by setting a time in the evening–say nine or ten pm–past which you stop snacking for the day.
If you find yourself really hungry past the time that you normally try to stop eating, don’t deprive yourself. In preparation for this situation, create a pre-approved selection of healthy snacks–like half an apple or a handful of almonds–that you can eat when you need food late at night.
7. Build a Routine
Consistency is key when it comes to weight loss. If you work on building a healthy daily routine, your healthy habits will soon become second nature to you and you won’t have to worry about checking up on yourself by counting calories.
Try to fit in thirty minutes of moderate exercise at the same time a few days per week. Always start your day with a healthy, protein-rich breakfast. Keep your fridge stocked with healthy snacks–such as Greek yogurt or a bunch of grapes–to take on-the-go with you to work or to class.
Losing weight doesn’t have to be a torturous daily regimen that takes over your life. By easing yourself into a healthier lifestyle, you can feel better and naturally shed pounds without ever counting a single calorie.