For just about any activity or endeavor you can think of, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. That certainly holds true where dieting and weight loss are concerned because even the tiniest of mistakes can deal a significant blow to weight loss efforts and possibly derail the whole plan. Losing weight is something that might come easy for a few people but most of us are facing one of the most difficult struggles of our lives when we resolve to lose weight. While it’s important to acknowledge that everyone is different when it comes to weight loss, there are some “Golden Rules” that everyone should abide by. There are probably millions of diet plans out there to choose from but no matter which one you decide to try, these universal rules will likely serve you well.
1. Use Willpower
Without at least some willpower, weight loss efforts are doomed to failure. Everyone struggles to force themselves to exercise when they would rather just sit in front of the TV or has trouble passing by the candy aisle in the supermarket. Sure, a bit of cheating is bound to happen once in a while, but willpower can help you prevent a little cheating from becoming a full-blown pig out session. Maintaining your willpower is one of the toughest things to do while dieting but it’s also your most valuable and effective ally.
2. Think Long-term
As much as we all would love it, there really doesn’t seem to be any quick way to lose weight. Starvation might work for a while but that’s both impractical and potentially dangerous to your health. Your best bet is to not think of your diet as a diet. Instead, think of it as a lifestyle change. That may sound difficult but your new lifestyle doesn’t have to be completely free of tasty, indulgent food. A lot of people are successful with something called the “80/20 rule.” This plan demands that you stick to your diet plan 80 percent of the time but allows you to indulge a bit for the other 20 percent of the time. A plan like this is usually much easier to stick to since you are not completely depriving yourself of the food you love.
3. Don’t Starve Yourself
While skipping meals and eating very little food every day might seem like a super fast way to lose weight, your body probably won’t react the way you expect. When you cut down too much on eating your body has a tendency to put itself into what might be best described as “survival mode.” In other words, your body knows something’s up and it slows down your metabolism in order to burn less fuel and hang on to those fat stores so it can try to delay what it perceives as starvation. That would allow you to survive longer if you were in an actual starvation situation.
4. Avoid Alcohol
This could be a tough one for a lot of people because alcohol is such a constant in the lives of many people. While it’s normally OK to have a few drinks once in a while, overdoing it should definitely be avoided. You might consider alcoholic beverages as part of that 20 percent we talked about earlier. Consider it a treat and place strict limits on the amount you drink. Alcohol can be high in calories, has no real nutritional value and can also disrupt your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients. Drinking alcohol can have many effects on your body, such as slowing down the metabolism, which is something you really want to avoid when trying to lose weight.
5. Drink Lots of Water
While drinking alcohol is not such a good idea while dieting, drinking water is a great idea. In fact, many people find that drinking lots of water allows them to lose weight faster and easier because it causes your body to burn more calories. It also makes you feel full for longer and so makes you less likely to reach for calorific snacks.
6. Don’t Deprive Yourself
We talked about the “80/20 rule” above but it really is worth stressing that you should not be so rigid in your approach to dieting and weight loss that you take away all those indulgent food you most love to eat. When you totally eliminate a favorite food from your diet you are more likely to experience cravings, which will often take you off track and well along on the road to failure. The key is limiting those indulgent foods and thinking of them as treats that you can look forward to on a regular, but not continuous basis.
7. Create a Meal Plan
Successful weight loss requires planning and that’s because lack of planning often leads to overindulgence. When you’re left to try to figure out what to eat all of the time you are far more likely to make bad choices. Having a plan makes it easy to know what you should be eating and when. Planning can be as simple as just making a list of meals you are going to eat every week. It’s a good idea to do that before you go to the supermarket since it makes it easier for you to get in and out quickly and avoid being distracted by things you should not be placing in your shopping cart.
8. Eat Healthy
Eating healthy means more than avoiding junk food. It’s now known that eating and an adequate amount is very important for those who are trying to lose weight. Keeping hunger under control while dieting is crucial since it’s so much easier to pig out when you are feeling hungry and deprived all the time. Eating the right foods will accelerate weight loss and keep you from feeling like you always need something to eat.