Your quest to lose 15, 20, 30 pounds or more is a big goal that may seem impossible to achieve. So, think small, not big. Break down that goal into daily doable chunks that’ll will eventually get you there.
“Focus on the bite-sized challenges that you can do each day,” says Beachbody super trainer Autumn Calabrese, author of Lose Weight Like Crazy Even if You Have a Crazy Life! “Conquering small goals gives you little victories that keep motivation high and culminate in accomplishing that big goal.”
Start now. Below, Calabrese offers her tips and mini goals that will put you well on your path to achieving the body and the life you want. Read on, and for more on how to lose weight, you won’t want to miss The Best Ways to Lose Belly Fat for Good, Say Doctors.
Never Leave Home Without This
A 16- or 32-ounce travel bottle of ice water. If it’s always at your side, you’ll drink more throughout the day. Staying hydrated fights hunger and cravings. Shoot for drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day.
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Purge Your Pantry
To avoid being tempted by yummy baked goods and sugary treats, purge your pantry of unhealthy snacks. Go through your foodstuffs with a large plastic bag; anything that has more than 8 grams of sugar should be tossed.
Always Have Fruit on Hand
I always keep my refrigerator stocked with frozen fruits. They are always ready for you and never get old and mushy. Frozen fruit is great to throw in a shake or even to sauté up with a drizzle of maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla extract for a healthy “dessert.”
RELATED: 6 Frozen Foods To Eat for a Longer Life, Say Doctors
See Through the Marketing Hype
When grocery shopping, avoid buying food products with certain catchy phrases on them like “low-calorie,” “reduced calorie,” and “zero-calorie,” to name a few. This can lead you to believe you are buying something that is healthier for you than its counterpart, with all its fat or natural sugars, but when sugar and/or fat have been removed, usually something else has been added in to make it tastes good, and that something else usually is fake and not so great for your body. If something is truly natural and good for you, it doesn’t typically need a lot of food labeling to tell you that. I mean, I’ve never seen broccoli labeled reduced sugar or an apple labeled low-fat. Just saying.
Baby Step Away from Soda
There are about 39 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce soda. Drinking just one soda a day increases your risk of diabetes by 67%, according to a study by the American Diabetes Association. There are zero benefits to drinking soda, so that’s one of the few things I tell my clients to stay away from. If you have a soda habit, baby-step out of it. First, add up the number of ounces you are drinking in a day. Cut it in half and start weening yourself away from the cravings. Stay there for 3 days, then cut it in half again and stay there another three days. Continue cutting the amount in half until you’ve cut out soda completely. You can even try replacing your bubbly with 21 Healthy, Low-Sugar Soda Alternatives That Make It Easy to Quit Cola.
Visualize Your Progress
Besides weighing yourself, I recommend taking progress photos of yourself every 7 days. Take one from the front, one from each side, and one from the back. Don’t suck in. These photos are for your eyes only. They are designed to illustrate your progress every week to keep you motivated.
Buy a Zester
Make healthy recipes tastier without adding calories by adding citrus zest for flavor. Use a zester to quickly add fresh lemon, lime, or orange zest or to grate garlic or fresh ginger into recipes instead of calorie-dense sauces and dressings, like these 20 Unhealthiest Salad Dressings on the Planet.
Text Your Tribe
Check-in regularly with a tribe of friends who know about your weight loss goals and can provide support and accountability. Studies suggest it’s easier to maintain a weight loss plan when you have support, can share tips on diet and exercise, and have an exercise buddy.
Use the 40-30-30 Macronutrient Split
This means to split your daily macronutrients into 40% healthy carbohydrates, 30% lean proteins, and 30% healthy fats. Eating this way will ensure that your body gets the most useable nutrients and satisfies your hunger. One of the biggest reasons I like this split is because your body can only absorb so much of a nutrient at a time. Take protein for example; your body can only use so much at one sitting for muscle repair and growth; you expel or store the rest. Another reason I use this split is that certain vitamins can only be absorbed when combined with fat or water. Take vitamin A in asparagus, kale, and broccoli. To best absorb A, sauté those vegetables with a teaspoon of olive oil. I go into greater detail on the 40-30-30 macro split in my new book, Lose Weight Like Crazy Even if You Have a Crazy Life!
RELATED: 7 Ways Eating Too Much Protein Can Harm Your Health
Ditch the Word ‘Can’t’
Sure, you can meal prep. You can absolutely find a way to fit exercise into your day. You are certainly capable of preparing a delicious healthy meal. When you find yourself using the word “can’t,” be realistic, you can, you have done it before, and you can do it again. Move your attitude into the positive zone by banishing the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. Tell yourself “I can. I’m smart. I’m strong.” Then figure out a way to get it done.
Plan Your Weekend to Stay on Track
Having a plan for the weekend can make a huge difference to staying true to a diet and fitness program. Come up with a list of fun things to do that don’t revolve around food and alcohol. Partying and overindulging will set you back. (See: 12 Worst Weekend Habits for Your Waistline) Plan fun physical activities with like-minded friends that will move you forward.
Do 60-Second Metabolism Boosters
Energize your alertness and jumpstart your metabolism at regular intervals throughout your day with 60-second cardio drills. Start with 60 seconds of jumping jacks, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Then jog in place for 60 seconds to cool down.
Order Off the Appetizer Menu
Appetizer portions tend to be more in line with real serving sizes, compared to bigger entrées. So, choose from the appetizer menu and ask the server to bring it out as your meal. Prefer something from the entrée side of the menu? Then ask your partner to split the meal with you.
Don’t Dis Frozen Veggies
Frozen vegetables come in handy if something is out of season or if you are running low on fresh veggies for the week. And guess what: They are often higher in nutrition than their fresh counterparts. Why? Because they are picked at the peak of freshness and flash-frozen on the spot, so they retain more of their nutrients. Depending on where you buy your fresh produce, it might have traveled on a truck for several days before hitting the supermarket shelf, then it sits on the shelf for at least a few days, so, by the time you eat it, it might already be two weeks old.
Keep Your Drinks Clear
If you are going to have an alcoholic beverage before dinner, substitute it for a serving of carbs, and choose wisely. Avoid the cocktails that are loaded with juices or other high-sugar mixers. Keep it clean and simple, a clear alcohol like vodka mixed with soda water is best. You can ask for it to be muddled with fresh herbs to add more flavor.
Plan Your Meals
I always say being prepared isn’t half the battle, it is the battle. In order to lose weight like crazy, you need to prepare your kitchen for success and plan out your meals. Start by getting a good blender, measuring spoons, platic baggies, plastic wrap, glass salad dressing bottles or mason jars, and storage containers. Each week before you grocery shop, plan out at least some of the meals for the week. Find healthy recipes to help you create your shopping list. Only buy what’s on your list. By planning meals out, you won’t fall prey to defaulting to unhealthy meals or take out. Studies show that people who lose the most weight and achieve longer-term results allowed themselves two days to prepare for a diet program and used online planning and self-monitoring tools 50% more often than other participants.
This is really the secret to losing weight. Portion control works. Eating the right ratio of macronutrients works. Drinking a lot of water daily works. Exercise works. Limiting sugary carbs works. But only if you do these things consistently. You can’t expect success if these are things you do occasionally. They must become habits, part of who you are and how you live every day.
Turn the Clock Ahead
Lack of sleep can lead to stronger cravings the next day. When you’re tired, your body can start to crave sugar. That’s because it’s looking for a readily available energy source, and your body knows that sugar is a quick hit. If you tend to stay up late, try getting to bed earlier to get more sleep. Over the course of a week or two, gradually train yourself to go to bed 15 minutes earlier every couple of nights until you can regularly get 8 hours of quality sleep per night.
Smoothie Out the ‘Hangries’
When your mood dips with your blood sugar, or you need to crush a craving for sweets, blend up a protein smoothie to take the edge off. Beachbody’s Vegan Vanilla Shakeology is my go-to fix: 4 ounces water, 4 ounces unsweetened coconut milk, 1 cup frozen bananas and strawberries, 1 cup frozen cauliflower (makes the shake creamy and gives me a serving of vegetables), 1 scoop Vegan Vanilla Shakeology.
Flip the Script
Look at your past experiences with dieting and ask yourself what didn’t work for you? Was the diet too restrictive? Did you understand the science behind the method? Did you give it your all or only half-ass it? Think about it and write it down. Then write down how you can flip the script on how those experiences made you feel Less Than to motivate you to be More Than you ever thought possible.
RELATED: 21 Warning Signs You Need to Change Your Diet—Fast
Lose Weight During TV Time
A body in motion burns more calories than one lying on the couch. So, make TV time more productive by doing some simple calisthenics during the commercials. Pick your favorites. Here are my suggestions: 25 crunches, 30 mountain climbers, 30 heel tap hops, 5 burpees.
Banish the Negativity Committee
Write down every bad thing you have ever said about yourself, all those negatives, on a piece of paper. Read them. Now, imagine that your best friend wrote them and handed it to you. You might wonder “how could my best friend say those things about me?” Well, it’s the same thing when you think and say those things about yourself. Now destroy that paper. Get rid of those negative thoughts forever. Write down what you really are: strong, smart, capable.
Learn how Autumn overcame her negative mindset in her book, Lose Weight Like Crazy Even if You Have a Crazy Life!
Use Smaller Plates When Plating Your Food
We eat with our eyes. When you use a huge dinner plate, putting properly portioned food on it can look small, even though it’s a lot of food. If you use a smaller plate when plating your food, the meal looks fuller and will give you the feeling that you are eating a sizeable portion.
Don’t Talk and Eat
It’s one thing to enjoy conversation once you’ve put food on your plate and sat down at the table to eat, but you don’t want to stand at the buffet or snack table to chat. That leads to nibbling. We have a handful of this, a bite of that, and a taste of this, just a few more chips, never really paying attention to what or how much we’re eating. Instead, take what you want, then move the conversation away from the piles of food.
Fight the Fear, Find the Courage
Repeat this mantra: “Everything I ever want is on the other side of fear.”
Let it sink in. The next time you hesitate to try something you really want because you are afraid, face it and push forward. Powering through fear makes you realize that you are much stronger, braver, smarter, and more capable than the thing you feared.
When starting a weight-loss or fitness program, get clarity on your current situation and where you ultimately want to be. Ask yourself some questions: Does my lifestyle help or hinder my nutrition and wellness? Do I look at food as a reward or a punishment? What will it feel like when I improve my nutrition? What does a good day of eating look and feel like?
When formulating a plan or changing your lifestyle, ask yourself these questions: “What steps am I willing to take to improve my eating habit, and what am I not willing to change? What new fitness activities can I begin as a way of improving my health? What new mindset do I want to adopt into my life around nutrition and exercise and why? How can I set a healthy example for my family? What are my most important goals regarding nutrition and health?” Check out the full “Get Clarity-Take Action” worksheet in Lose Weight Like Crazy Even if You Have a Crazy Life!
Eat to Avoid Temptation
Never go food shopping, go out to eat, or head off to a party when you’re famished. When you do, this is when your eyes become bigger than your stomach. Suddenly everything looks delicious and it’s much more difficult to choose healthier items and practice portion control. Have something small. Make sure it includes some protein to keep your belly satisfied.
Do This if More Pounds Refuse to Come Off
If you’ve stopped losing weight or you feel you’re not dropping pounds quickly enough, try these three tricks for jumpstarting weight loss: Eliminate all sugary treats for three weeks. Cut out all alcohol for three weeks. Try eating new types of vegetables, especially those high in fiber. See: 43 Best High-Fiber Foods For a Healthy Diet.
Remember, It’s About Progress, Not Perfection
Each time you hit a bump in the road to losing weight, you’re being given an opportunity to evaluate what happened and learn from it. Did you make some poor food choices? Did you overeat? Ask yourself, “was I actually hungry? Did I emotionally eat? Did I wait too long to eat and get ravenous? Am I drinking enough water?” Answering those questions honestly is an opportunity to look inside and learn more about yourself and the journey you are on. That’s progress. Sometimes keeping a journal can help. Check out The Expert Guide to Keeping a Food Journal for Effective Weight Loss.