With summer fast approaching, now's the time to shed that extra winter weight. The warmer temps and longer days make it easier to get outside and be active, and there's a plethora of healthy, seasonal produce to munch on.
We know it can be hard to get started so we caught up with Julie Geyer, RD, dietician and clinical nutrition manager at Rose Medical Center, in Denver, to get tips that can help you turn your sweater body into a swimsuit body.
Set realistic goals, and make a plan.
Instead of setting lofty goals, such as "lose 20 pounds this month", set small, attainable ones. "Have a few goals (three or four) that you're going to work on right now versus trying to eat the whole elephant," says Geyer. For example, ditch the soda and drink water or unsweetened tea, or commit to walking each day.
Also, plan out how you are going to do it, she says. Write down your weight loss goals, and steps to achieve them. The act of committing your goals to paper keeps you accountable and motivated.
Overhaul your pantry and fridge.
Few things will sabotage your efforts like junk food. Before getting started on your weight-loss plan, purge your pantry of the not-so-healthy snacks that are hard to say no to.
"I think everyone has their trigger foods -- the things they know they just can't turn down - so try and avoid having them stocked in your kitchen," says Geyer. Instead of chips and sweets, snack on seasonal fruits and veggies, a handful of almonds or low-fat yogurt.
And make sure you get rid of sugary drinks, too.
"I think a lot of the empty calories from soda and other drinks are a huge downfall for people [who are trying to lose weight]," she says.
Meal planning makes it easy to avoid the pitfalls of fast food and other unhealthy diet temptations, says Geyer.
Pick a day each week to plan your meals and shopping list. Consider what you can make ahead for breakfast and lunch, list healthy snack options for in between meals and plan out simple, healthy dinners that won't be a hassle to whip up at the end of the day.
Enlist a buddy.
One of the best ways to jumpstart your weight loss efforts and stay on track is to enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member.
"Having someone support you in your weight loss journey is key," Geyer says. Plus, it makes it more fun if you have a friend to walk with at lunch or tag along to a fitness class.
The key is to surround yourself with people who are going to encourage you to eat well, get moving and stay motivated.
Skip quick-fix detoxes.
There are tons of detox diets and cleanses that make grand claims of fast weight loss. But, be careful, warns Geyer.
"Generally, detoxes aren't safe and they can actually be harmful," she says. "They upset the whole balance of your body, and that's not something you want."
Detoxes also clear out your GI system and disrupt the microbiome - "The little guys that live in your gut that are beneficial to you, like prebiotics and probiotics," she explains.
Change the way you think about dieting.
Committing to weight loss that lasts well beyond summer is tough and requires a deeper motivation than having a killer bikini bod. For lasting weight loss, you need to change the way you think about dieting. Don't look at it as a short-term sacrifice; instead, see it as a long-term, healthy lifestyle that consists of eating right and exercising regularly.
"Diets come and go but if you have a healthy lifestyle, you're making choices because you know you'll feel and look better, live longer and have less chronic disease," says Geyer. "Those are the motivating factors [that work] versus a diet that you're going to stick with for two weeks and then give up on."
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.