As 2016 draws to a close, countless people are viewing the upcoming year as a golden opportunity to start anew, reinvent themselves, and lose unwanted weight for good. Convinced they’ve got it down, a good number of these people will turn to dieting or demanding exercise routines to get the results they want fast. But ultimately, they’ll be making the process of staying in shape harder on themselves, as many people probably don’t have the time to put forth the effort needed to change overnight — especially not after all of that holiday cake!
Instead, for anybody looking to lose weight and keep it off in 2017, the real key to success will be developing and maintaining better habits and routines. As a health and wellness guru and celebrity fitness counselor — as well as a mom and wife who also needed to "lose the weight for good" once upon a time — I know a thing or two about creating sustainable habits and achieving results through a realistic approach. I've helped busy celebrities like Jennifer Hudson, Jessica Simpson and Katie Couric do exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish, and I know that you can do it too!
Here are my five weight loss secrets to help you start 2017 out on the right foot:
#1. Check the Morning and Evening Stress at the Door
Many people have chaotic morning routines: waking up late, rushing through the morning, and dealing with anxiety just to get to work or a school drop-off on time. And after a long day, many people’s evening routines aren’t much better: checking their work email, eating late night snacks, and not getting enough sleep. This kind of stress and lack of sleep are the two main catalysts that keep excess weight on the body, and trigger the hormones that lead us to overeat.
If you want to lose weight, it’s time to take a look at how you can smooth and de-stress aspects of your morning and evening routines. Do you need to wake up or leave the house a few minutes earlier? Eliminate the snooze button? Make the kids’ lunches the night before? The value of these tiny changes can’t be overstated, as they are key to long-term success. You should also consider incorporating 3–5 minutes of meditation at the start or end of your day.
#2. Stop Calorie Counting! Enter the 'Five' System
Counting calories is one of the most stressful, overwhelming and anxiety-ridden strategies imaginable. This is because calorie counting is such a massive behavioral change that people get overwhelmed, lose track, and experience guilt about the numbers and their food budgets.
Instead of becoming a mathematician, think habits — and not calories — by implementing my "Five" system. Simply identify five healthy breakfast options, five healthy lunches, five guilt-free dinner choices and five guilt-free snacks. These options should be simple, healthy and easy to find. Some examples are oatmeal, hardboiled eggs, turkey sandwiches, grilled chicken salads, bananas — but there are plenty of other options out there. Just make sure you pick options that appeal to you if you want them to become long-term habits.
#3. Technology Is Your Best Friend
We live in the age of information, so it would behoove you to put all of this knowledge and accessibility to good use! For starters, join a community of like-minded individuals striving towards a common goal of losing weight for good. In my MyQuest Target 100 Program, I will personally guide you step-by-step, and walk you through the five essential pillars of successful, long-lasting weight-loss.These pillars include not only nutrition, but also movement, stress, sleep and hydration.
Another suggestion is to explore the meal kit industry and see if any of the available services provide healthy, customizable meal plans that resonate with your preferences. In addition to being extremely convenient, these services make it easier to fend off troublesome cravings. (In other words, what you see is what you get.) Similarly, you should consider utilizing online grocery delivery services, as they memorize your previous orders and deliver an abundance of healthy options directly to your doorsteps.
#4. New Space, New You
Believe it or not, one of the main reasons you’re not able to lose weight and shake old habits is because you haven’t moved your furniture yet. No, I’m not telling you to become a professional mover; I’m telling you that you need to change your environment to inspire change in other facets of life. What we see with our eyes and take in with all of our other senses deeply triggers our outdated, shunned habits. If you simply shift your physical environment, you can let go of the past and create new habits and experiences.
Many of my clients credit this simple step as extremely essential to their progress. For example, one client struggled with late-night eating in front of the TV. We selected the side table next to her couch to be her "cue" to stop the mindless eating, so we moved it into another room. From then on out, when she would go into mindless snacking mode, the lack of a table would jolt her back into reality and she would remember that she was trying to shake this tendency. What small changes, or sweeping redesigns, could cue you to newer, healthier habits?
#5. Trick Yourself Into Living Guilt- and Shame-Free!
New research suggests that guilt and shame are emotions that actually activate the reward center of the brain. This is why dieting can backfire, because they are usually plans we implement to address guilt and shame we’re experiencing due to our weight. When we break the plan, we tend to start eating everything in sight with no understanding of how or why this is happening. In actuality, the study suggests we’re stimulating our brain’s reward center by feeling guilty about breaking the plan.
In human nature, one of our biggest rewards is food, so we are driven even harder towards the facet of our life we are trying to manage. This is why classic diets can be a dangerous road to navigate. Instead, the next time you make an eating error, try to think about all of things you are grateful for, which can help you bypass the reward system.
As long as you keep these five tips and tricks in mind, there’s nothing stopping you from achieving your fitness goals in 2017. Even better, developing these habits will improve just about every other facet of your life! Again, don’t diet, don’t calorie-count, and don’t get too intense — just set forth a realistic plan and do your best to maintain it!