We asked weight-loss bloggers to share their secrets to success.
What You've Been Doing: Making Sunday a meal-prep day Try This Instead: Add exercise planning to the agenda "I jot down my workouts for the week on my calendar every Sunday. My exercise timing changes a little bit by the day (I have an 18-month-old, so childcare often dictates the schedule), but knowing in advance exactly when I'm going to fit workouts in helps me follow through. Sometimes last-minute plans get in the way, but I generally stick to my schedule once I've put it in ink. —Tina Haupert, Carrots 'N' Cake; lost 25 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Opting for the lower-calorie version of whatever you're craving Try This Instead: Have a go-to snack on hand that's filling and nutritious "For me, cravings are rarely about the food—it's often about what I'm feeling and my desire to escape that. I eat the same exact thing no matter what I'm craving because doing so is more utilitarian than emotional, and it helps me recognize what I'm doing—"I'm eating this because I'm having a craving that I need to shake" versus "I need to eat something because I'm feeling stressed/anxious/unhappy." For me, it's 2 percent Greek yogurt with honey and flax seed. A little protein, a little fat and a little fiber can make a huge difference." —Erika Nicole Kendall, A Black Girl's Guide to Weight Loss; lost 170 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Watching your meals get smaller and smaller as you try to cut down on portions Try This Instead: Bulk up dishes with vegetables "Add extra veggies to just about any dish you eat to volumize it. I tend to be a breakfast-on-the-go person, so I focus on doing this with lunch and dinner, adding at least 1 cup of vegetables each time. One recent dish I made included adding roasted cauliflower to a lighter version of macaroni and cheese. I've even added spiralized golden beets to a loaded baked potato. Not only do you make it a larger portion but you also add greater nutritional value while filling yourself up." —Kelly Guy, No Thanks to Cake; lost 70 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Using all your willpower to pretend junk food doesn't exist when you're at the grocery store Try This Instead: Get what you want—after you've grabbed what's actually on your list "If I find myself with cookies or ice cream in my hand, I'll put them down and tell myself that I'll get them at the end of the shopping trip. Eighty percent of the time my cart is so full with other, healthier foods I like that I'll be able to talk myself out of it—or I'll forget it all together! If I feel like I want those foods so much that I can't stop myself from buying them even at the end of the shopping trip, I try to work them into a social event so I don't eat all of them myself, like taking them to my mom's house to enjoy with the rest of my family. —Monica Olivas, Run Eat Repeat; lost 20 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Being rigid about meal planning and never deviating from what you've decided in advance in eat Try this Instead: Keep planning ahead, but find a method with some flexibility "Planning out my meals ahead of time takes away the stress of trying to figure out what to eat in a moment when I'm hungry. But last-minute plans come up, or sometimes I just don't feel like eating the meal I've mapped out. So I use a white dry-erase board to write down meals for the next day. If things change, I can just erase what I had written and write in the new meal—it helps me be prepared but also flexible." —Katie Foster, Runs for Cookies; lost 125 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Forcing yourself to exercise in a way you don't enjoy (Everyone hates running at first, right?) Try This Instead: Find a workout that you don't completely loathe "It took me doing 5K's and a half-marathon to finally admit that I never got a runner's high and that I'd rather use that 'Oh, my gosh, I have to get out of bed and exercise' energy on activities that I look forward to. That meant trying Spinning, heavy weight lifting, Zumba, swimming, hot yoga and more. So many people start out walking and running because it seems like that's what everyone does. Then they groan about how they don't like it, and dread doing it, but do it anyway. It's great to find that persistence, but it takes less mental energy in the long run to find something you really like. It shouldn't be a struggle." —Emily Ho, Authentically Emmie; lost about 100 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Scrolling through drool-inducing food posts on Instagram even though you know those recipes probably don't fit within your eating plan Try This Instead: Filter out tempting images "I don't need constant, delicious dishes in my social media streams, so I've learned to carefully curate the Pinterest and Instagram accounts I follow based on the food they pin or post. There's no hard-and-fast cut-off rules, but if you're always posting indulgent food, I have to get rid of you. Instead, I find funny or inspiring accounts that lift me up instead of pull me down with temptation." —Rebecca Regnier, one of the bloggers behind Does This Blog Make Us Look Fat?; lost 15+ pounds twice
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What You've Been Doing: Silently stewing about how hard and unfair losing weight can be (and, for the record, we agree that it's far from easy) Try This Instead: Remind yourself that this process is your choice "Pay attention to thoughts like 'Why do I have to do this?' or 'It's not fair that I can't have that.' Both suggest an external force pushing you to make certain choices. There is no external force; it's all coming from within you. This simple but profound mental shift can free you from resistance to change. Once you have that energy freed it up, you can use it resist more important things, like those chocolate donuts that someone just put in the office lounge. —Michelle Funez, Diary of an Aspiring Loser; lost 85 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Reaching for food, even healthy stuff, at the first sign of hunger Try this instead: Let your stomach get a little growl-y now and then "So many times we hear 'Don't let yourself get too hungry.' But I've found that feeling true hunger helped me learn when my body needed food and when I just wanted to eat for eating's sake. Stop eating because the clock tells you to and learn to feel and trust your own hunger signals by allowing yourself to get hungry in between meals. Hunger is not an emergency, and feeling that growling stomach before filling it with nourishing foods will help you learn what foods satisfy you longer and which ones cause cravings later." —Roni Noone, Roni's Weigh; lost 70 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Trying to eat everything in moderation, even if that doesn't seem to work so well for you Try This Instead: Make your own rules that fit your personality "People say not to exclude any one food or food group, because it will just set you up to go overboard once you do have it. For me, it was the opposite. I'm a total all-or-nothing person, so it was easier to say I wasn't going to eat specific foods (for me, it's grains and dairy) at all than to have them sometimes. I'd tried to do that during previous weight-loss attempts and I'd find ways to justify eating them more often than I should. Cutting them out completely was the better option." —Theodora Blanchfield, Preppy Runner; lost 50 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Automating breakfast Try This Instead: Automate your lunch too "I found that lunch could be a challenging time of day for those of us who struggle with making healthy food choices. So I almost always have a salad. I get creative with toppings and mix-ins to keep me from getting bored, and I'm ensuring that my meal is vegetable-packed, filling and generally pretty reasonable in terms of calories. Making this meal a routine means that I save time and energy and don't have to test my willpower." —Andie Mitchell, Andiemitchell.com; lost 135 pounds
What You've Been Doing: Spending all of your gym time on the cardio machines, focusing on burning as many calories as you can Try This Instead: Branch out to the weight room and add some muscle-building moves to your regimen "Strength training accelerated my fat loss and boosted my metabolism—I found that I was able to eat more of the foods I love while still losing weight. Using weights and doing body-weight exercises like push-ups felt like a chore at first, but once I realized how effective strength training is at transforming the shape of the body, I got on board and really began to love it. I couldn't even do one push-up when I started—now I can barrel through them. And we're talking about full-body push-ups, not the modified 'girl' kind that you do on your knees." —Josie Maurer, Yum Yucky; lost 40 pounds twice—first after having her third child and again after her fourth
My team did a cool study in which we took people on a walk for a mile and told some it was a workout and others it was scenic and fun. Afterward, everyone ate lunch, and the scenic group consumed 35 percent less dessert than the workout group. If you think of physical activity as fitness, you tend to want to reward yourself. But if you see a workout as something else, like personal time, you don't have that same tendency. Now when I exercise, I think of it as a celebration. I say to myself, "You know, many people like you who are in their 50s couldn't do this."
<em> -- Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the <a href="http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/" target="_blank">Cornell Food and Brand Lab</a> and author of</em> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Slim-Design-Mindless-Solutions-Everyday/dp/0062136526?tag=thehuffingtop-20" target="_blank">Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life</a>