Weight Loss: Advanced Weight Loss Tips

by : Jill Fleming, MS, RD

Most weight loss programs talk about getting started. While this is fine for those just starting, but what about those of you who have been making healthier lifestyle choices for several months? Where do you turn for continued motivation and accountability? Depending on how consistent you have been with your goals, you could weigh up to 20-40 pounds less by the 6-month mark. The more excess weight you initially had to lose, the faster you will have started losing it. If your only goal was to tone up your soft areas, you may have already have reached your goal.

You should definitely be feeling more energy and healthier. Increasing your water intake alone can give you this benefit. Adding additional fruit and vegetables to your diet provides you with plenty of vitamins and minerals, giving you extra energy, especially if you were previously deficient. The extra fiber plus fluid has helped speed the movement of food through your bowels, meaning that you are now much more "regular" than before starting to live healthier. You should also be sleeping better since you have lost some weight and are now exercising regularly.

If you had high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, you have probably experienced an improvement in all of these numbers. If you have a history of depression, you may notice that you are feeling better and may be working with your doctor to decrease prescription medication doses. This is a direct result of the exercise you have added (30-minutes most days of the week) to your life. Exercising releases the same chemicals and hormones as your medication. You have increased the release of epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, catecholamines (feel good hormones) pumping through your body because of your regular activity.

To keep your motivation strong after a stretch of time, you will want to add a lifestyle diary, a partner and a scale to your life. All three of these items will help you increase your accountability and see continued results. You can add one, two or all three of these to stay motivated.

Keep track in a daily lifestyle diary. It is easy to eat more than you plan to. Using a daily food diary can make you more aware of exactly how much you are eating. Include everything, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. A handful of nuts or an extra beverage may seem innocent, but can add up to a substantial number of extra calories. An excellent predictor of who will be successful at losing weight permanently is record keeping. Choose a diary that allows space for tracking each of your lifestyle choices, including exercise and sleep. Record keeping keeps you honest and accountable to yourself.

Find a weight loss partner who has similar goals to you. Research has shown that those who make behavior changes with accountability to another person are statistically more successful. Once your new choices become habits and you are seeing results, you will have sufficient accountability to yourself. Make walking-dates with this person and call each other daily or weekly to check each other's progress. Having two or three daily goals to be working toward is ideal. For example, ask your partner "How many servings of fruit or vegetables did you eat today?" or "How many steps did your pedometer register this week?"

Weigh yourself daily. Do not fixate on the number, but be aware of daily and monthly changes. Weighing daily will help you catch 5-pounds before it becomes 10 or 20. When University of Minnesota researchers monitored the use of a scale by 1,800 adults who were dieting, they found that those who weighed themselves daily lost an average of 12 pounds over two years; weekly scale watchers lost only 6 pounds. The group who weighed once a day was also less likely to regain lost weight.

Weigh yourself in the morning, before eating breakfast and then don't step on the scale again until tomorrow morning. You can have up to 5-pound fluctuations in your weight from morning to evening. If you are feeling bloated or puffy, you may want to avoid the scale and focus on drinking more water that day. Water-retention always weighs heavy on the scale.

Congratulations on the new and improved lifestyle choices you have added to your life. Take heart in knowing that after just two or three months of making these new choices daily, you have turned them into habits. You can add a diary, weight loss partner or scale to your current routine to help increase your motivation. Remember that accountability to yourself and others will greatly increase the likelihood of keeping your excess weight off.

For anyone who has not yet mastered the "getting started" initial healthy lifestyle choices, keep working at it. You couldn't ride a bike the first time you tried either. Forming new habits is work and takes time. You will be more successful with each attempt. You have too much information to go completely back to your old lifestyle. Focus on how much you have improved and keep getting better everyday.