Top Ten Weight Loss Tips: What Really Works for Normal People

It seems like every few years a new diet suddenly becomes all the rage. But in reality the formula for losing weight has never changed. To lose weight, your body must burn more calories than it takes in. Although that's a fairly simple idea, it can be hard to practice. To keep yourself on track, follow these 10 simple weight-loss tips that really work.

10. Nothing should be forbidden.

The quickest way to make your diet fail: Tell yourself you'll never eat another slice of cheesecake (or whatever your weakness happens to be). As soon as you forbid yourself from indulging in your favorite treats, the cravings kick in with twice the intensity. The key is moderation. It's true that you can't have multiple pieces of cheesecake every day, but if you're really craving one, go ahead and treat yourself -- and really savor it.

9. Balance strength and cardio.

When you're trying to burn calories, focusing all your energy on cardio workouts can be tempting. Cardio exercises burn calories more quickly and are a very important part of losing weight. However, weight training is just as beneficial. When you build lean muscle, your body burns more calories at rest. Work strength training into your routine for a balanced workout.

8. Consistency beats intensity.

A vigorous workout is a great thing, but working out really hard once a week is not as good as working out a little bit every day. A consistent workout will help get your body into a rhythm, making healthy habits a way of life instead of an off-and-on obligation.

7. Make new habits.

Reinforce your consistent workouts by choosing new, healthy habits even when you're not dressed to sweat. Walk and bike with more consistency, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. New habits apply to your diet, too. Make veggies instead of junk food your go-to snack.

6. Build enjoyable exercise.

Regular exercise is important, but it doesn't have to be boring. If the thought of running on a treadmill everyday fills you with dread, find a more exciting way to get your cardio. Look into group classes like Zumba or martial arts. Some gyms even offer "boot camp" classes, where the exercises are never the same two days in a row.

5. Don't drink your calories.

Some of the sneakiest calories aren't in that cookie or slice of cake; they're in the glass of juice or cup of morning coffee. Because drinks don't make you feel full, it can be easier to keep filling your glass. But calories are calories. Make water your primary drink, and you might see some pounds come off without even trying.

4. Focus on nonfood aspects of health.

A truly healthy lifestyle doesn't only involve diet and exercise. If you're making a commitment to a healthier you, then you owe it to yourself to think about health in a holistic way. Seek out mental and social stimulation, get plenty of rest and treat yourself to activities that help you manage stress.

3. Make food about hunger first.

It can be tempting to use food to satisfy urges that have nothing to do with hunger. Anxiety and boredom can be a diet's worst enemies. Next time you get an urge or craving to eat between meals, try to honestly assess how you feel. Are you really hungry, or are you eating for another reason?

2. Concentrate on health, not weight.

Obsessing over what the scale says is enough to discourage anyone. The truth is that even when you're doing everything right, your weight will naturally fluctuate a few pounds. And if you start a strength-training routine as part of your new, healthy lifestyle, your new lean muscle mass might also add a few pounds to the scale. So don't use numbers to judge your success; instead, evaluate how you feel in your body.

1. Keep track.

No matter how many tips and tricks you try, losing weight still comes down to one simple fact: You need to burn more calories than you consume. Make it easier for yourself by keeping track. Start a food journal, and write down everything (and that literally means everything) that you eat. You might be surprised how quickly those small snacks add up.

Losing weight takes complete commitment. Trying to compartmentalize weight loss is a recipe for failure. More often than not, a complete lifestyle change is the best path to success.

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