Weight loss is not the most complicated thing we can do—the advice to move more and eat less works well enough because that is the gist.
But despite the simplicity, countless people today struggle to lose a meaningful amount of weight and keep it off. According to unofficial statistics, as many as 95 percent of people never reach their weight loss goals, which is a shame.
The good news is, we can employ several tactics to set ourselves on a path to sustainable weight loss. But make no mistake: doing so isn’t always easy and still requires discipline and planning.
With that in mind, let’s go over the four crucial steps to sustainable weight loss.
Step 1: Focus On Habits Instead of Using Diets
Diets are an attractive option for many people today, and why not? They last for a predetermined period and offer specific benefits, often sounding too good to be true. The problem is, diets come with several huge drawbacks that make them ineffective in the long run.
One of the biggest issues relates to sustainability. Diets sound good on paper and deliver short-term results, but most are unsustainable in the long run. Sure, you can follow a diet for a few weeks or months, but what happens once the initial motivation fades? Most people burn out and go back to old behaviors.
Another drawback of diets is how restrictive they are. While beneficial to some degree, massive restrictions don’t work in the long run because we are human and require some dietary flexibility to enjoy social gatherings, holiday meals, and our favorite treats.
Plus, even if you do a diet successfully, what happens after that? In other words, what’s the diet after the diet? Most people don’t know how to proceed after a diet, so they go back to old habits, regaining all the weight they had managed to lose.
The first step to sustainable weight loss is moving away from finding the right diet to developing better habits. Sure, habits don’t deliver quick initial results, but they are more sustainable and can last for a lifetime. Good ideas include:
- Chewing your food more thoroughly
- Being mindful during meals and avoiding distraction
- Eating slowly to allow for satiety to set in
- Consuming more whole and nutritious foods
- Drinking water before and during meals
Step 2: Set Specific And Realistic Objectives
Setting goals is by no means essential for reaching success, and the work you do matters far more than the goals you set. Everyone can jot down a few goals, feel good about themselves, and never take the first step. But few are those who work persistently until success.
Having said that, setting good goals for your weight loss can be beneficial because they provide you with actionable objectives and might even keep you motivated. A good weight loss goal needs to be specific and realistic. For example, take a look at what you shouldn’t do:
“I want to lose weight.”
Sure, that’s a given. But the goal is vague and offers nothing actionable. Now, let’s translate it into something more specific:
“I want to lose 15 pounds of fat in the next 12 weeks.”
We now have something much more specific. More importantly, you can now break that goal down into weekly objectives and more easily track your progress.
Step 3: Focus On Sustainability, Not Perfection
Many people develop an all-or-nothing attitude toward weight loss. If they can’t be perfect, they don’t bother trying, which does more harm than good.
Today, countless people want to lose weight but procrastinate because they can’t find the ‘perfect’ diet or training plan. But here is the thing:
Minor improvements add up and can lead to tremendous results in the long run. For example:
- Having some water instead of a soda
- Leaving the cookies at the grocery store
- Putting some fruit in a bowl on the kitchen table
- Taking a daily 10-minute walk
- Spending some time in nature over the weekend
We can make countless small improvements that add up, allowing us to lose weight and improve our health. The best part is, small changes are sustainable and allow you to be consistent in the long run.
Step 4: Learn to Monitor Your Progress
Tracking your progress might seem obsessive, but it isn’t. Just as one would track their finances to save money and get out of debt, tracking weight loss is vital for knowing if you’re on the right track. More importantly, tracking your progress is critical for staying motivated in the long run.
An obvious way to track your weight loss is to weigh yourself a few times per week and calculate the weekly average. For example:
Monday - 190.2 lbs
Wednesday - 189.3 lbs
Friday - 189.7 lbs
Saturday - 189.5 lbs
Average: 189.6 lbs
You would then compare weekly averages to understand how things are moving.
Taking photos and tracking one’s progress is also beneficial. We see ourselves in the mirror every day, and we can’t always notice visual improvements. So, by photographing ourselves every few weeks, we notice changes more effectively.