Whether you're giving up some of your favorite foods, cutting back your hours watching Netflix, or you're squeezing in a new workout during an already busy day, adopting a healthier lifestyle to lose weight will require you to make some decisions that aren't always easy. But here's the thing: Just because losing weight isn't easy doesn't necessarily mean that it needs to be terribly difficult.
In fact, you can give yourself a much-needed boost along the way by adopting tons of little tips and tricks that can have an outsize impact on your weight loss goals. Best of all, they're easy. Don't believe us? Read on to learn what many of them are, and consider working them into your own weight loss program. And for more handy tips to help you achieve your weight loss goals, don't miss these 40 Clever Ways to Drop More Pounds Starting Now.
Brush your teeth right after you eat
If you're someone who is likely to over-snack—especially in the evenings—Lisa Kiersky Schreiber, a wellness coach and weight-loss author, has a handy tip that can help you eschew those unwanted calories and gain better control over your decision making. "Brush your teeth right after dinner," she says. "This could prevent you from eating hundreds of extra calories because it's unlikely you'll want to have to brush your teeth again." For more clever hacks, see these Life-Changing Weight Loss Tricks You Haven't Tried Yet.
Make your food appear bigger
Never underestimate the power of self-deception as it pertains to weight loss. According to Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN, a sports dietitian who works with the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, one of the easiest ways to trick yourself into eating less is to arrange your food so that it appears like it's more food than it really is. "You can make less look like more," she says. "Easy ways include shredding your cheese, having thinly shaved lunchmeat, and cutting meat and poultry in half horizontally." For more great weight loss advice, try some of these Simple Ways to Start Losing Weight Immediately, According to Experts.
Pause and wait when you've eaten two-thirds of your meal
"This is surprisingly effective and takes no time and requires no exercise," says Paul Greene, Ph.D., a psychologist and Director of the Manhattan Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in New York. "Whenever you sit down to eat, eat two-thirds of it, then wait 15 minutes before deciding whether you'll have the rest. After 15 minutes, if you're still hungry, finish your meal. If not, you've just saved yourself a bunch of calories."
If you want the strategy to be even more effective, he says, put the rest of your meal in the refrigerator and out of sight. "This will make your decision 15 minutes later more about your hunger than about any visual appeal of the food. This draws from a behavior modification technique called stimulus control."
Habit stacking refers to the process of grouping together small but meaningful changes into your existing routine. According to Saara Haapanen, BSc, MSc, Ph.D. Candidate, and personal trainer and performance consultant for the Colorado Governor's Council for Active and Healthy Lifestyles, habit stacking could be your new weight loss ally. "Do 15 squats after you brush your teeth," she says.
The key to habit stacking is to treat the cluster of tasks as one. So, if you do 15 squats after you brush your teeth, don't view that as two tasks. It's simply what you do every time you clean your teeth, bundled together as a single task. Over time, you'll find that you've added hundreds of squats to your day and you're burning more calories than you were before. And remember: Science has shown repeatedly that forming new habits is crucially important to sustaining your weight loss.
Read restaurant menus before you leave your house
Dining out on delicious but unhealthy foods can easily derail any dedicated weight loss program. Your solution? Study the restaurant's menu long before you leave your home. "Decide what you want before you get to the restaurant, and then don't even look at the menu once you get there," says Schreiber. "This can make it a little easier to choose a more nutritious option instead of making an impulse decision or being tempted by the menu."
Britt Epley, a spiritual mindset and wellness coach who hosts the Well & Witchy podcast, agrees. "I always look up the menu before I eat out," she says. "I do this so I can get a good idea of portion sizes and meals that fit the best in my current plan, and so I can craft an option that works for me. Otherwise, I show up and just get what's easiest and that option is usually not the most healthy. Sometimes though, I do lean into my cravings and treat myself, and that's okay. It helps me from not binging as often on unhealthy foods." And whatever you do, just be sure to avoid these 14 Dishes to Never Order at a Restaurant.
Eat your dinner on a salad plate
When it comes to sticking to weight-loss goals, you're invariably your own worst enemy. So it's important to engage in a little self-deception when you can. "Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate," says Haapanen. "Sometimes, just seeing a full plate tricks our mind."
Embrace the easy calorie swap
"Making simple, lower-calorie swaps that are just as satisfying is also a great hack," says Rachel Lessenden, founder of Health My Lifestyle. "For example, I love soy milk, but when I'm trying to lose weight, I switch to almond milk. I can't tell the difference in things like oatmeal and smoothies. I also make my own dressings instead of store-bought since many have lots of added sugar and oils."
Don't stock up on junk food
"Instead of buying junk food and storing it for when you want it, make yourself go to a store each time you want junk food," says Leann Poston, MD, of Invigor Medical. "The extra effort will help prevent mindless eating."
Go deeper with your motivations
You'll only win if you raise the stakes of your weight loss, says Haapanen. "Don't make the goal as superficial as fitting into a pair of jeans," she says. She advises making your goal something bigger, such as "being able to play with your grandkids."
"Go deeper for sustainable long-lasting change," she says. "You truly have to want it." And for more amazing weight loss advice, know that Doing This Every Day Is the Key to Losing Weight.