The real way to lose weight is a no brainer: exercise and proper diet, right? But as you may have noticed, it rarely ever produces long term results. The problem often lies not in the process itself, but in the commitment and execution. As any good fitness instructor or personal trainer will tell you, consistency is key, and the only real way to lose weight is by making lifestyle changes.

You’re probably already turned off by the term ‘lifestyle changes’, especially since the holidays are coming up. But stay with us for a minute and we promise you won’t have to skip out on those Christmas feasts. We get that the thought of doing things to lose weight can be overwhelming. We really do. Hence our first real tip: the easiest way to lose weight is to break the process down into small steps.

Set a Primary Goal

Setting your goal as ‘to lose weight’ is so overrated and ineffective – make your goal more specific, measurable, and achievable. Make it personal. Examples of good goals are to be able to fit into your favourite pair of old jeans, or shedding x amount of inches from your waistline.

Also set mini-goals like being able to touch your toes without problem, or being able to do x amount of pushups or crunches. After you’ve achieved these, start aiming higher!

Stick to a Meal Plan

“I vow never to eat a junk food again!”

Said no one ever who really meant it. Vowing to never eat your favourite junk food again is too big a commitment. Don’t fall into the trap of attempting to make drastic changes for quicker weight loss as this is unsustainable. You’ll only end up feeling deprived before ultimately giving into the craving. Studies show that suddenly reducing your food intake causes your body to slow down your metabolic rate in an effort to store energy more efficiently.

The key, according to CDC, is balance. Allow yourself to eat food you like that aren’t necessarily very good for you, but place limitations. This way, your diet doesn’t feel like torture! If you know you’ll be having a lot to eat for dinner, eat less than you normally would throughout the day to keep your calorie count for the day as close to normal as possible.

Don’t even bother trying to find the ‘best’ diet out there – there isn’t one. It will always be a case to case basis, and the only real factor that makes a difference is your ability to commit to it.

Do Not Fear Muscles

Many people avoid exercising despite wanting to lose weight because they don’t want to gain muscles. The truth is, it’s not that easy to bulk up! Exercising regularly does not mean you’ll easily get significantly bigger muscles – focus instead on the fact that building and strengthening the muscles will burn more calories, make everyday activities easier to accomplish, improve your posture, and give your body more definition. In fact, it was reported in a study from the UCLA that the more muscle mass you have as you age, the less likely you are to suffer from premature death.

Avoid the Weighing Scale

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that there is a link to frequent self-weighing and the risk of depression and eating disorders. The weighing scale only measures your overall weight, but does not tell you your body composition. It’s possible to gain weight as you gain muscles, even though you’ve lost fat. What’s more important than the number on the scale is how you feel and how you look.

Try Different Exercises

Weight loss counselor Katherine Tallmadge, RD says that burning 500 more calories than you eat everyday can help you lose 1-2 pounds a week. There are many different exercise programs you can try to achieve this, some of them are even possible as regular home workouts. Fitness instructor Sarah Kirkham says that the best way to lose weight is by combining cardiovascular exercise and weight training. Cardio exercises raises the heart rate – examples include jogging, running, cycling, and swimming. Strength training induces muscular contraction with the use of resistance to build strength and anaerobic endurance.

Some of the more popular fitness programs these days include Zumba and CrossFit. Trying out different exercises means you never get bored, plus you’ll be working out different parts of your body each time.

Fitness plans are so much easier to accomplish when broken down in specific, bite-sized steps that you can take one day or week at a time. This way it won’t be overwhelming, and you’ll be able to sustain the results!

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