Ideal weight  It’s a constant battle – losing weight and keeping it off. Some people just seem to be ‘naturally’ skinny. While genes and general health play a part, so do lifestyle factors and habits.

So here are a few lifestyle tweaks that can get you on your way to the body you’ve always wanted, and help you keep it.

1.Plan your meals.

To keep a constant blood sugar, you need to eat small regular meals, with sufficient protein, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. When you plan when and what you eat, you are less likely to binge or eat unhealthily, particularly as you can ensure that you have the proper foods available.

2. Never buy larger clothes.

Let the discomfort of a tightening waist line motivate you into eating less. When we buy larger clothes we are admitting defeat. The same goes for when you lose weight – get rid of the clothes that are now too big for you – you will no longer be needing them. Commit to your healthier weight! Don’t make it easy on yourself to go back to a weight you do not want to be.

3. Never eat until you are full.

Let your brain tell you how much you must eat. You need only eat until you are satiated, not full. Full means you have overeaten, not that you have eaten enough. It takes the body about 20 minutes after eating to realise that it is full, in that 20 minutes you can consume a lot more calories than you really need. Let your head tell you when you have eaten enough – not your stomach.

4. When you are really hungry – Eat with your eyes and not your stomach.

When we are very hungry, we have a tendency to overeat, wolfing our food down, and not realising when we have had enough. Sure for a few minutes after eating the correct portion size you may still feel hungry, but that quickly passes once your body has registered how much you have actually eaten. Just be patient and wait for the feeling of satisfaction to arrive. You can handle a few minutes of still feeling hungry.

5. Trick your mind into believing a food that you crave is bad.

Let’s be honest we’ve all had that experience where we have made ourselves sick with something that we have eaten or drunk, and then sworn that we will never eat or drink it again. Well it’s that feeling we wish to trick our mind into believing. By telling yourself a fairly detailed and disgusting story about the time that that food made you ill, you will be put yourself off from eating it, reducing your craving. Tell yourself about the time you ate that particular chocolate bar and found a half-eaten fly in it, visualise seeing the dead fly sticking out of the bar, imagine how you felt the squishing sensation as you bit into it and how you threw up for hours after – harness your inner Stephen King the more detail the better! I dare you to crave it after that.

6. Change your mindset towards hunger pangs.

For many hunger pangs equate to deprivation, suffering, or discomfort. How about you tell yourself that your hunger pangs equate to discipline, to goals met, to calories burned. When you view the sensation as something positive rather than deprivation, you are more likely to accept it and then eat during your planned meals. The hunger pangs mean you are sticking with your plan and working towards your weight goals – that’s a good thing.

7. Weigh yourself frequently and make small adjustments along the way.

I would rather only have to lose a kilogram or two, than five or ten. When you monitor your weight you are forced to acknowledge your real weight and it is far easier to lose a kilo or two rather than 10. It’s all about lifestyle adjustments and returning to your habits and goals when we lose sight of them.

8. Drink enough water

We all know it – we need to drink more water – usually about 8 glasses a day, but depending on your size and level of activity, perhaps more or less. Water just makes your body function better. We also often confuse thirst for hunger. So when in doubt, have a glass of water or a green tea. In fact, drinking green tea has been shown to increase metabolism as well as having other health benefits.

9. Don’t buy it if you don’t want to eat it.

It’s quite simple, if it’s not in the cupboard, you can’t eat it. Don’t buy unhealthy foods – it really is that simple, though not always easy. If you find you are tempted by the confectionery near the till, or can’t pass up a special discount, then order your groceries online, make your list from your meal plan and stick to it. And on that note, never go shopping when you are hungry – it’s too hard to resist those tasty treats.

10. Add movement into your day.

A pedometer or fitbit device is an easy tool to see how much you move during the day. Aim for 10,000 steps a day. In fact, research has shown that people who tend to fidget a lot, weigh less. So all movement counts, the more you move and engage your muscles, the more energy you are burning up. So take the stairs rather than the escalator, walk over to your colleague rather than email, stand at your desk when you are talking on the phone. Get a standing desk, or a mini pedal exerciser that you can place under your desk and pedal while you work. The possibilities are endless. Just move more.

11. Don’t drink sugary drinks

Soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, hot chocolates and so on, are full of empty calories, while fooling us into feeling that we have not eaten much and therefore are on track with our diets. Diet drinks are not good for you either as they are full of chemicals. It takes 21 days to change a habit, so give yourself a chance to drink more water and cut back on sugary drinks. It’s just a small adjustment. In the long run it will be worth it, even just cutting sugar from your tea helps.

12. Keep a food journal.

A photo journal or a nutrition app, it’s all good. When you are thinking about what you eat, you are more likely to make better choices in line with your goals particularly when you can see it. You can face your habits head on and see what you are eating, and when you have to make a note of yet another chocolate bar consumed, you may stop and think whether you really want to eat it.

13. Focus on upping your protein intake.

Protein is essential for healthy living. It is the building block of our muscles and organs. Protein makes us feel fuller for longer, so you will not eat as much. Low protein diets are also associated with lower muscle mass, depression and fatigue. When we build more muscle, we burn more fat. Just choose lean sources of protein without all the nasty fat.

14. Eat vegetarian

Not necessarily every day, but consuming more vegetables increases fibre intake and nutrients, which makes you feel fuller for longer. Vegetables are generally lower in fats than processed food. Just keep an adequate lean protein intake in mind.

15. Use smaller plates.

It’s another mind trick – if we have larger plates, we tend to eat more, filling up the plate as we subconsciously assume a plate equates to proper portion control. A full smaller plate tricks our brain into believing that we have eaten more, or at least enough, and we are better able to exercise proper portion control.

16. Drink water before you eat.

Drinking a glass of water before a meal ensures that we are not satisfying our thirst with food, and also makes us feel fuller, therefore we are less likely to overindulge.

17. Make your health and weight goals known.

Telling people about your goals increases accountability. When people check in with you, you will want to be able to tell them that you are succeeding. Better still, get a diet buddy for encouragement and accountability, and maybe even a little friendly competition. Ask your friends on Facebook to check in with you that you are sticking to your goals.

18. Eat out less.

Take away and restaurant foods are notoriously loaded in fat. Even the innocent salad if often fat in disguise. Increasing fat and sugar content makes food tastier. The bottom line is that fast food and restaurant industry wants to make money, and individual weight goals do not factor into their equations.

19. Be realistic

For many, the weight has slowly crept on over a number of years, don’t expect it to fall off in a matter of weeks. Consistency is key, when changing to a healthy lifestyle, as well as sustainability. When we have unrealistic expectations we become easily discouraged and give up.

20. Get back on the wagon

Be kind to yourself, just because you ate badly one day doesn’t mean that we have completely failed or that it’s not worth carrying on. One bad day doesn’t mean that all is lost. Just pick yourself up and start again fresh. It’s only a failure if you give up and learn nothing from it.

What healthy habits do you have? Share them in the comments section below. Let’s start talking!

Good luck, I know you can do it.

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