So, you’ve been working hard and managed to shed a few pounds for swimsuit season (or that dream wedding dress, perhaps?). Congratulations! Chances are, you’re feeling more confident and healthy than ever. Now that you’ve achieved a weight that you’re proud of, it’s time to create a plan to keep the extra pounds off.
But with all the yo-yo diet fads circulating, it can be nearly impossible to know which method is the best for staying in the best shape of your life. Most weight maintenance trends are not only frustrating, they also tend to be extreme and unsustainable.
It’s time to rethink how to stay healthy. Trust us when we say: the best diet for keeping the weight off isn’t a diet at all.
Here are our 10 best pieces of advice for the healthiest summer (and fall, and winter…) bod you’ve ever had!
Fix Cravings the Healthy Way
Listen, it’s human to have cravings. (You know, the insatiable need for ice-cream at midnight or an entire bag of potato chips after work?) However, what we know about cravings is that they might actually be the body’s way of communicating which nutrients it is deficient in.
For example, if you find yourself craving potato chips, your body may need something with a moderate amount of sodium and fat, such as nuts (try cashews or walnuts!). Popcorn is another viable replacement for your salty/fatty cravings.
Craving sugar? You’re not alone. Instead of starving your body or “quitting cold turkey,” consider finding a satisfying replacement.
The best way to curb your appetite for refined sugar and fight candida overgrowth is to feed your body something it will actually benefit from. Next time you find yourself halfway through a row of Oreos, try whipping up a smoothie bowl with fresh or frozen berries, non-dairy milk such as almond or coconut milk, and a piece or two of dark chocolate or a scoop of sugar-free protein powder. This will satisfy your sweet tooth, and leave you feeling full and refreshed.
Eat the Rainbow
Not the Skittles candies. It’s time to go back to the basics. If you’ve ever fed a toddler or growing child, you know that kids are more likely to eat the entirety of what’s on their plate if it has lots and lots of… color! This should be true for adults, too.
Your body is desperate for the vitamins (and micronutrients) found in foods of various coloration. Not only will colorful foods help you keep the weight off, they also encourage healthy heart function.
Many people get stuck eating the same things each week; eating the rainbow increases your nutrient intake. Here are some examples of what a colorful plate can do for your health:
- Red foods have cancer-fighting qualities (tomatoes, red pepper, red onions, cherries, raspberries, pomegranate, etc.)
- Orange and yellow foods contain Vitamin A (pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.), Vitamin C and beta-carotene for healthy vision, blood flow and cell-growth (citrus fruits and others)
- Green foods pack a punch, with vitamins, micronutrients and antioxidants (leafy vegetables, broccoli, peas, avocado, green apples, etc.)
- Blue and purple foods contain nutrients that fight cancer, stroke and heart disease, and can even lower blood pressure (eggplant, purple cabbage, black olives, blueberries, prunes, etc.)
Regular inclusion of colorful foods into your daily menu is a surefire way to keep your body composition in-check and your vital organs functioning at peak performance. Not to mention, eating the rainbow is an awfully fun way to “diet.”
Plan for the Munchies
When you’re feeling “snacky” in between meals, it can be frustrating to find that you don’t have any healthy munching options stocked in the cupboard. So instead, you resort to leftover pizza (or the kids’ processed chicken nuggets… we’ve all been there), or “empty calories” like pretzels or crackers.
Set yourself up for success by “planning for the munchies.” Purchase wholesome snack foods in advance that won’t set you back in your weight maintenance journey. Check out the list below for a place to start:
- Nuts (dry roasted or lightly salted)
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Cut veggies and hummus for dipping
- Whole-grain pita chips and guacamole
- All-natural protein bars
- Granola and greek yogurt
Grocery Shopping Success
In vein with the above advice, it is essential to your health’s success to be intentional in both meal planning and grocery shopping. They say, “don’t go grocery shopping hungry” for a reason!
Take a few minutes before heading out with your reusable grocery bags to make a written list of the meals, ingredients, and snacks you know you’ll need that week. Be sure to plan critically so that you don’t find yourself ordering takeout at the end of the week because you ran out of healthy meal options.
For the sake of your budget, think about which “base items” might pair well with a handful of meals. For example, brown rice can be prepared with fish and chicken, as well as a side for tacos or added to soups. Blueberries might be a topping for a fresh salad, a dessert alternative, and a filler in your favorite smoothie recipe. Spinach may be added to a morning omelet, the base of that blueberry salad, cooked as a side for your chicken or fish, or thrown in as your soup is simmering.
Here are some must-haves for your next grocery shopping adventure:
- Free-range, organic poultry (chicken and eggs)
- Fresh-water, low-mercury fatty fish (salmon, trout, sardines, albacore tuna)
- Fresh and frozen vegetables (spinach, peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, etc.)
- Pesticide-free fruit (berries, citrus, mango, melon, grapes, etc.)
- Whole grains (whole wheat bread, oats, brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa)
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butter
- Herbs and spices (garlic, turmeric, basil, cilantro, oregano, paprika, etc.)
- Unrefined oils (olive, avocado, coconut)
If you have foods stocked that you feel good about eating and are excited to use in recipes, you’re bound for success in what you and your family eat throughout the week!
Cheat… For the Health of It
We know, we know… your whole life, you’ve been taught that cheating is bad and will result in punishment or negative consequences. Well, we’re about to blow your mind. In the world of dieting, those rules shouldn’t apply. It turns out, cheating might actually save your waistline.
Popular among fitness gurus and those intent on tracking macronutrients is the trend of “cheat days” or “cheat meals.” This can look different in many ways, depending on the individual’s specific eating plan, but all in all it simply means that for a meal or an entire day every week or two, you allow yourself to eat whatever you want (but without going completely overboard). Moderation is still important.
Someone may be following a strict low-calorie or low-carb diet six days out of the week (or thirteen days of a two-week period), but during one day of the weekend, allow himself or herself to go out with friends, enjoy pizza or a burger and fries and a few drinks. This kind of “reward system” gives the person something to work toward during the week and look forward to, so that they don’t find themself sneaking pints of ice cream to bed due to overly-rigid restrictions.
Cheat days are a way to avoid plateaus while one is losing weight or in maintenance mode. Weight loss can “stall,” as it were, if the body thinks it’s being starved. It begins to store fat as a means of protecting the person from what the brain perceives as a “famine.” Consuming more calories in a given sitting ignites the body’s metabolism into high gear, as it were, signaling to the brain that it’s not being starved and to use the food being consumed as an energy source.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
- Waste-removal and bowel health
- Temperature regulation
- Joint lubrication and cushioning
- Protection of tissues
- Balance of body fluids
- Skin and muscle health
- Kidney functioning
- Weight management
You might find yourself asking: How does water help with weight loss? Great question. Wellness professionals report that drinking adequate amounts of water may:
- Signal fullness to the brain (suppressing one’s appetite)
- Ignite one’s metabolism
- Help replace other liquid-calorie intake
- Encourage exercise performance
- Assist the body in burning fat and flushing waste
The amount of water a person should consume has been up for debate in recent dietary conversation. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula, because each person’s body, lifestyle, and physical location are different and require different hydration levels. Keep in mind that water doesn’t just come from the tap. Water is also absorbed from food, fruit and vegetable juices, and other sources for essential body functionality.
While we’re here, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind readers to avoid unhealthy beverages in their pursuit of health. This means limiting drinks with added sugar, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and other chemically-laden ingredients. If you’re torn between soda and lemon water the next time you’re out with friends, remember that the number on the scale isn’t the only thing at stake (every cell in your body is!).
As a general rule of thumb, studies suggest that total water intake (from food, beverages and supplemented water) should equal 130 oz for adult men and 95 oz for adult women, give or take life factor differences.
We’ve discussed the benefits of a good night’s sleep as well as tips regarding how to ensure you’re getting quality sleep here before, but it bears repeating. The often-forgotten factor of weight loss and management is sleep.
Doctors recommend adults aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night for organ restoration and mental health. As far as weight maintenance is concerned, adequate sleep benefits a healthy metabolism, fat storage, and proper appetite during the day. In addition to all this, improper sleep often leads to unhealthy food choices during the day, due to lack of nutrient absorption, increase in uncontrollable cravings, and added stress, resulting in imbalanced caloric intake.
“Sweet dreams” may just be your new health and diet mantra!
These Boots Were Made for Walking…
With all of the health and diet fads gaining popularity (some more extreme than others), most doctors and dieticians agree that weight loss can be summarized by one phrase: eat less, move more.
Exercise seems to be a “skeleton in the closet” for many people, as we don’t want to admit that working out feels intimidating or shaming or, more than anything, unappealing. So instead of finding creative ways to exercise, most people just… well, don’t.
The best way to exercise is in the way that you enjoy it! If you are off-put by the idea of hours spent in the gym each week, find a yoga class near you, or take a walk through the neighborhood with your significant other and/or kiddos after dinner during the week. Go on a 30-minute bike ride during your lunch break or create your own 15-minute squat/push-up circuit that you can finish while you’re waiting for the kids to get off the bus.
With all the at-home exercise videos on YouTube and workout class alternatives, there’s no excuse to not find something that you enjoy doing to help your body maintain a healthy, optimum weight.
Friendship: It’s Good for Your Waistline
We are creatures of habit, by nature. This is why it is essential to have trusted people nearby who know our tendencies and can gently guide us back to the path we’ve set out on. We need connection and accountability to achieve our goals.
Studies show that social support during a weight-loss program is a way to ensure follow-through and success. The Köhler effect, a psychology term, works similarly: people are more motivated when they are working in a group toward a common goal. A workout buddy, a friend embarking on their own weight maintenance journey, or a significant other who can encourage you to step away from the freezer when the midnight ice cream temptation hits are all sources of accountability that will fuel your health drive.
We all become tired, get discouraged, or succumb to the voices of negativity in our heads sometimes. Invite a friend or family member to partner with you in your weight management goals, and watch as those pounds stay off for good!
Skinny Up! ® for the Long Haul
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Depending on where you find yourself on your health journey, Skinny Up! ® has a product that will pair well with your other efforts (eating the rainbow, moving your body, hydration and sleep…). Whether you’re trying to maintain your current weight, lose that last 10 pounds, ready to shave 15-20 off of that number on the scale, or lose substantially more, we have an all-natural, effective, 100% hormone-free supplement for you.
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Which tip from this list has helped you out on your journey to maintaining a healthy weight or losing the extra pounds? Let us know by leaving a comment!