If you're like most people, you've probably made a New Years resolution to lose weight. Unfortunately, most people – 80 percent – tap out before they really get started. To help you maintain your goal through 2012 and for years to come, we've compiled a list of tips the experts want you to know to get on the right track to weight loss.
It may be tempting to pay penance for having that second (or third) helping of mashed potatoes by severely restricting your food intake, but nutritionists say that will just slow down your metabolism and make your body think you're starving — torpedoing any attempt to lose weight.
Don't be afraid to snack.
The old rule of “three squares a day and nothing else” has fallen by the wayside. If you get hungry between meals, you're more likely to overeat later, so have a healthy snack to tide you over and keep the metabolic fires burning. Some good choices? Anything protein-packed, like a stick of string cheese or a tablespoon of peanut butter on a piece of fruit.
Pay attention while you eat.
Studies show eating while watching TV, texting, driving, or doing anything else to distract you from your food could make you eat 40 percent more calories than you otherwise would. Put your meal on a plate, sit down, and savor it.
Remember cravings will pass.
If you're dying for a giant plate of pasta, do something to take your mind off of it for five minutes — research shows that's about how long most cravings last.
Your mom said it's the most important meal of the day — and she was right. A meal made up mostly of carbohydrates and protein with some fat will keep your blood-sugar levels steady so you aren't eating everything in sight by lunch time.
Many adult beverages are loaded with empty calories, so if you must indulge, stick with a glass of wine, light beer, or vodka and soda, all of which have about 100 calories each. And even then, tread lightly. Getting tipsy will lower your inhibitions and could lead to an unplanned midnight run to the 24-hour Waffle House.
Being well-rested makes you less prone to the careless eating often caused by fatigue or stress. Even an extra hour of shuteye can help you make better food choices.
Yeah, we all know working out is good for you, but exercise doesn't necessarily have to leave you sweaty and exhausted. Aim for 30 minutes of activity at least five days a week, and remember that recent research has shown three 10-minute sessions are as good as a half-hour one.
A simple pad and pen will suffice, or use one of the many smartphone apps out there to record every bite that goes into your mouth. You might be surprised how much you're eating that you aren't even aware of.
One of life's many annoying and unfortunate truisms is that weight goes on a lot faster than it comes off. Just remember the longer it takes to lose it, the longer it typically stays off.