Ten Actions to Help You Drop Pounds for Good

by Amy Hendel, P.A. Health Writer

If you're falling into the trap of yo-yo dieting, then maybe it’s time to embrace a game plan that can help you to not only lose weight, but also keep it off for good. Here are 10 actions you can take to make that happen.

Commit to a long-term healthy lifestyle

You don’t need to wait until New Year’s to commit to a new lifestyle plan. Waiting until New Year’s or bikini season means you think there’s a “right time.” The right time is now. It begins when you stop thinking about dieting and really commit to adopting habits that you will continue to keep up even after you reach your goal weight.

Improve your gut microbes

The delicate balance of the bacteria that live in your intestinal tract can either help with weight loss or encourage weight gain. Certain foods rich in probiotics such as yogurt and fermented foods support a healthy gut, and should be daily staples of your diet.

Use tools like a checkbook

“You can’t spend it if you don’t have it,” is a standard in the world of financial planning. Many nutritionists, too, like using a checkbook analogy to weight goals. For example, “save and then spend” is a good mantra. Exercise first, tally the amount of calories burned and then figure out how many calories to consume that day to lose weight or maintain it. Things like a diary, journal, or fitness tracker can all help to keep you motivated and honest.

Food quality is everything

Diet plans that, “let you eat whatever you want,” as long as you meet a daily calorie count, are missing the point. A main goal of lifestyle is health, so food should be tasty, satisfying and nutritious. Just remember to use portion control and opt for high fiber foods, a mix of lean and plant-based proteins, and fruits and vegetables. Also try to include fish, beans, legumes, seeds, and make whole grains a focus.

This is about you and for you

It seems to make sense to follow a diet that someone else has had success with. But just because it worked for them does not mean it will work for you, too. Your family history of disease risk, current state of health, personality and work schedule are all variables that a lifestyle program needs to match. That’s why it’s vital to find a catered lifestyle match, if you expect to sustain it.

You must exercise

Exercise burns calories, and helps to balance calorie intake when you are on a weight maintenance program. And losing fat rather than muscle is the goal of a healthy lifestyle program. Include aerobic exercise as well as weight training, which helps to build and maintain muscle mass. Having more muscle mass will also boost your metabolic rate.

Slow, steady weight loss better

Here’s a lesson from The Biggest Loser television show: Dramatic, rapid weight loss may impair your leptin hormone production, lower your metabolic rate permanently and ultimately work against long term efforts to lose weight. Aim instead to lose one to two pounds per week. When you hit a plateau, increase your exercise intensity or reduce calories a bit. But be sure not to go below a minimum intake of 1200 calories daily.

One bad day is one bad day…unless you make it a week

Don’t let one bad meal or bad day of eating derail your lifestyle program by severely depriving yourself as a way to make up for it. It can set you off on a food binge and allow your bad feelings to sabotage your efforts. So just treat the incident as just a single episode of emotional eating in a long-term lifestyle program. Use food psychology and the mantra, “It’s just one.”

Reward yourself

Celebrate milestones and small achievements by rewarding yourself with something other than food. Treat yourself to a spa day, a mani-pedi, a new book, a new piece of exercise equipment, some new music, a day at the beach or a movie with a friend. Learning to reward yourself will boost your mood and allow you to celebrate the healthier you. In addition, finding other ways to reward yourself will help to keep you on your new lifestyle program.

Use the new science

New research is revealing more and more about obesity and effective ways you can lose weight. Learn about different approaches such as intermittent fasting, HIIT, bariatric surgery, effective weight loss medications, various dietary approaches that match your needs and goals, and eliminating foods that contribute to obesity. By accessing the latest science, you can win your war on weight for good.

Amy Hendel, P.A.
Meet Our Writer
Amy Hendel, P.A.

Known as "The HealthGal", Amy Hendel P.A. is a medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, health coach and brand ambassador. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, find her on Twitter @Healthgal1103 and on Facebook @TheHealthGal. Check “Daily Health News” at healthgal.com. Her personal mantra? “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”