Remember It Takes Time
You can lose 2 pounds a week when you're watching your calorie intake and exercising regularly. That may not seem like much, but those little bits of weight loss will add up over time. Don't expect to lose all the weight over night as you didn't gain the weight that quickly, either.
Sure, your ultimate goal might be to fit into the jeans you wore in college, but in order to stay motivated, you need to set mini goals along the way. Every Sunday night, decide what your goal will be—to work out three times that week, eat greens every day, or meet with a personal trainer. Then when you reach your goal, reward yourself in a healthy way with a new water bottle or a trip to the movies—anything that makes you feel like you accomplished something.
Know Your Milestones
Since your weight-loss journey is made up of small steps along the way, it's important to track your progress. Seeing how your efforts are working will definitely inspire you to keep it up. Keep in mind that progress can be made in other ways that don't involve a scale—like having more muscle tonnage or extra energy.
Hold Yourself Accountable
So you ate healthy all week but didn't lose any weight—what gives? Unless you write down every bite you take, it's easier to cheat and grab a cookie here and some fries there. Those handfuls add up, and if you write down your food intake, you'll better understand why the scale isn't budging. It will also keep you honest. You'll be less likely to devour two pieces of cake at your friend's birthday party if you know you'll have to write it down later. To keep you even more accountable, share your food journal with a friend.
Don't Do It Alone
The support of your friends and family is huge when it comes to staying motivated. Tell everyone who's close to you that you're trying to lose weight so they can help you stay on track (instead of calling you up to go out for ice cream). Set up fitness dates, share healthy recipes, and have a reliable friend you can count on to call when you feel like you're veering off course.
Never Go on a Diet
You've heard 'em all: the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit diet, the banana diet. Launch into any of these and you're bound to lose some weight. Suddenly, you're not randomly grazing—you're eating with a plan. The problem is, your brain is a calorie hog, and it takes an immense amount of concentration to stick to a complicated diet. So don't. Instead, focus on eating great-tasting, belly-filling foods that will keep you satisfied so you won't be likely to overeat. These foods include whole-grain cereal, oatmeal, green tea, tuna, salmon, apples, walnuts, and lean chicken, beef, and pork.
Next time you're in a grocery store, pick up any boxed food and read the label. Chances are, it will have a few ingredients you recognize—wheat, sugar, salt—and a whole bunch you don't. These are the chemical additives that food scientists have cooked up not only to foil the spoilage process but also to mess with your body's natural taste and appetite regulators. Your tongue is covered with flavor sensors that guide you to seek a variety of sensations and eat a balanced diet. The people who make processed foods have tweaked the formulas for their chips or soup to achieve a balance of sweet and savory, so you're less likely to grow tired of that food and seek out something new. The solution? Focus on eating foods with only one ingredient. If you think that means you'll spend more time in the produce, meat, and dairy sections of the store—you're right. That's where slim women shop.
Munch More Often
This prescription is all about managing your body's energy needs over the course of a day so that you're never too hungry to think straight. If your food supply slacks off, even for a few hours, it's an invitation to gluttony. An easy fix: Eat every three hours, beginning with breakfast. A study from the University of Massachusetts Medical School determined that people who skip breakfast are four and a half times more likely to be obese than those who make time for it. Be sure that each of your snacks has a good mix of protein, fat, fiber, and carbs. Eating on this schedule will solve the biggest problem people face when it comes to losing weight: being too hungry to keep it up.
Drink Plenty and Drink Smart
Beverages with added sugar account for nearly 450 calories per day in the average American's diet. That's more than twice as much as we were drinking 30 years ago, and those calories are in the form of heavily sweetened sodas, coffee and tea drinks, bottled "healthy" smoothies, and sugar-laden fruit drinks. Improve your fluid intake by inaugurating a water schedule: Have a glass of water when you first wake up in the morning, one mid-morning, one before you eat lunch, one mid-afternoon, one before dinner, and one as a nightcap around 8 p.m. If you stick with this plan, you'll find that you crave soda less. If you're counting on that Coke for the caffeine, swap it for coffee with milk. Other smart alternatives include low-calorie homemade juice, unsweetened iced tea, and flavored seltzer water (just be sure to skip those that are high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or any kind of artificial sweetener).
Cook It Yourself
After a hectic day, it may seem easier to eat out. But by incorporating restaurant meals into our lives, we're giving up two essential things: money and control. For one thing, plates are much bigger today than they were a few decades ago. Because the plates are bigger, they're carrying more food. And consider these additional benefits of gathering around the table with your family: People tend to linger longer over a home-cooked meal, which has been linked to consuming fewer calories. And kids who grow up in families that regularly observe the evening meal do better in school, weigh less, and are more likely to stay away from drugs.
Never Stop Moving
There's one thing to like about visceral fat: It yields fairly easily to aerobic exercise. Vaporizing calories via running, biking, swimming—anything that gets your heartrate up—wins over resistance training when it comes to getting rid of the stuff. A recent study from Duke found the sweet spot: Jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week will help you lose belly fat.
Routinely squeaking by on five hours or less per night increases visceral fat levels, according to a 2010 Wake Forest University study. So sleep more!
Become A Tea Queen
Moderate exercisers who stocked up on the antioxidants found in green tea, called catechins, were more likely to lose belly fat while exercising than those who didn't take them.