1. Add, Don’t Subtract
Forget diet denial: Try adding foods to your diet instead of subtracting them.
Add in healthy goodies you really love, like deep-red cherries, juicy grapes, or crunchy snow peas. Slip those favorite fruits into your bag lunch and breakfast cereal; add the veggies into soups, stews, and sauces.
2. Forget About Working Out
If the word “exercise” inspires you to creative avoidance, then avoid it. Maybe the trick to enjoying a workout may be to never call it working out.
“There’s some truth to that,” Grotto tells WebMD, and once you start your not-calling-it-exercise plan, Grotto says you’ll discover “the way good health feels knocks down the roadblocks that were preventing you from exercising in the first place.”
3. Go Walking
Walking when the weather’s nice is a super-easy way to keep fit, says Diane Virginias, a certified nursing assistant from New York. “I enjoy the seasons,” she says, adding that even when she’s short on time she’ll go out for a few minutes. “Even a five minute walk is a five minute walk.”
4. Lighten the Foods You Already Love
One of the easiest ways to cut back without feeling denied is to switch to lower-calorie versions of the foods you crave. A pizza tastes just as good with reduced-fat cheese, and when you garnish low-fat ice cream with your favorite toppers, who notices those missing calories?
5. Because Hydration Helps — Really!
Down some water before a meal and you won’t feel so famished, says David Anthony, an information technology consultant from Atlanta. “Drinking a glass of water before a meal helps me watch what I eat. … I don’t just hog everything, since I’m not so hungry.”
6. Share and Share Alike
With the massive meals served at so many American restaurants, it’s easy to go Dutch — with the dinner plate.
“When we go out, I often share a meal with my wife,” Anthony tells WebMD. “We’ve been known to split a dessert, even a pint of beer. That way, we don’t feel stuffed, and we save some money.”
You can share more than just a meal out. Why not double up on a bicycle built for two? Go halves on the cost of a personal trainer? Maybe split a gym membership?
7. Tune In, Tone Up
The American Heart Association knows what we love: television. And they also know we need to get more exercise. So why not combine the two, they ask?
Try dancing to the music when you tune into your favorite music show, or practice some stress-relieving cardio boxing when your least favorite reality contestant is on camera.
8. Size Matters
Eating less without feeling denied is as close as your dinnerware.
That’s because while a small portion served on a large plate can leave you craving more, a smaller plate gives the visual signal that you already have more.
“People go by physical cues,” when they eat, Grotto tells WebMD. We know we’ve had enough because we see the bottom of our bowl or plate. “A smaller plate full of food just feels more satisfying than a large plate with that same amount of food on it.”
And don’t forget smaller bowls, cups, and spoons.
9. Get Involved, or at Least Get to the Table
When your weight loss efforts lead to boredom or too much self-focus, get occupied with something else. “I eat more if I’m bored,” says Virginias, “especially if I’m eating in front of the TV.”
So take a break from the siren-call of the tube, and get occupied with things that have nothing to do with food.
10. Lose It Today, Keep It Off Tomorrow
Finally, be patient. While cultivating that virtue isn’t exactly painless, it may help to know that keeping weight off generally gets easier over time.
That’s the result of a study published in Obesity Research, where researchers found that for people who had lost at least 30 pounds — and kept it off for at least two years — maintaining that weight loss required less effort as time went on.