Diet programs like Weight Watchers are a strange paradox: the people who are able to use them successfully are completely committed to losing weight, sticking to their diet, and not wasting money. Yet, those who fail are stuck feeling twice as bad since they’ve now wasted money on a calorie-counting system and discipline they didn’t follow, and one that didn’t stop them from gaining weight.
In reality, if you are the kind of person who is serious about losing weight and sticking to your diet, there is no need to join a diet program. Here are some of the easiest ways to slim down without compromising your health (or wallet):
1. Write Down Everything You Eat
It may sound obsessive and annoying, but writing down everything you eat is a huge component of diet programs.
Why it Works: This is a great way to analyze what you’re eating and see what food groups you’re missing. It will also prevent you from binge eating or indulging in junk food as you become more disciplined and don’t want to write anything embarrassing on your list. You can count calories if you really want to, but most people are well aware of the nutrition quality of what they’re eating, especially once they see it in the context of a list.
Take it Further: If you would prefer to count calories, Nutritiondata.com is a free site that lets you track what you eat, offers a free nutrition analysis, and logs your water intake and deducts calories burned from exercise. Basically, if you want to join a diet program like Weight Watchers, this is the site that lets you do it for free.
2. Use the Buddy System
Have a friend you can compete with or lean on to stay motivated do it with you. You can encourage each other and build off of each other’s energy.
Why it Works: Cravings often only last a few minutes, so if you can direct your attention to texting your friend instead of indulging in a hot fudge Sunday, you will probably forget how badly you want it by the time she texts you back. Encouragement helps enforce a positive association with your new, healthy lifestyle, and gives you an extra push since you won’t want to let down your friend.
Take it further: Start a blog to track your weight loss. You’ll encourage others and will feel obliged to stay on the right track. If you do choose to start a diet blog, make sure it’s on a website similar to Nutrition Data and not in the form of public Facebook rants about how hungry you are. The goal is to attract positive feedback, not to drive your friends crazy.
3. Create Rituals
Decide you’re going to drink two glasses of water before everything you eat, or that you’re going to do 20 squats every time you go to the bathroom. Be creative and do something that will actively help you reach your health and fitness goals.
Why it Works: Repeatedly doing something like this is a great way to create a healthy habit. You may not be able to stick to your diet, but you will find yourself automatically taking the stairs two at a time, or drinking more water than you ever thought you could.
Take it further: Try something new each week. It will keep you from getting bored of your routine and you’ll stay focused on creating healthy habits.
Tell us: What are you secrets to losing weight? Share them in the Comments!