Summer is right around the corner, and you’ve decided you want to whip yourself into shape for bikini season.
As you’re searching for the perfect diet and exercise plan, you find yourself coming across extreme juice cleanses and crash diets that sound, equal parts miserable and impossible.
You know sticking to these plans after the first two weeks is unrealistic, and every time you try programs like this, you gain all the weight back if not more.
Here are three ways to avoid this cycle and keep off the weight you lose before, during, and after the summer!
1. Focus on changing your lifestyle rather than just your body
Reaching a specific number on the scale or achieving a positive change in your outward appearance can be great motivations for weight loss.
However, if you want to keep the weight off permanently, it can be helpful to keep in mind how your life as a whole will improve after you lose the weight and use this as motivation, too.
Maybe there are certain things you want to be able to enjoy that your body won’t allow you to now, like going on long hikes with your family in the summer or signing up for that charity marathon next year.
Think about how much better you’ll feel and how much more energy you’ll have once you change your unhealthy habits and remind yourself of what’s waiting at the end of your journey. That will help you focus on the positive and stay away from a damaging, self-loathing mindset that will do anything but motivate you.
2. Avoid crash diets and opt for a gradual, sustainable dieting plan
Crash diets or any dieting programs that promise you will lose a ton of weight in a brief period usually aren’t sustainable, or healthy for that matter. Suddenly lowering your daily caloric intake by an extreme amount can cause you to become fatigued and irritable.
Also, these types of diets can actually cause your body to enter starvation mode and begin to store and hold onto fat instead of getting rid of it.
On the other hand, if you make gradual changes, get used to your new diet or exercise routine as you progress, and continue to challenge yourself by upping the intensity, you’ll be much more likely to achieve your end goal.
Gradually implementing changes and sticking to your routine for good, you’ll keep the weight off instead of experiencing unhealthy cycles and dramatic fluctuations.
3. Make a list of healthy foods you enjoy
Making healthy changes in your diet might mean cutting down on desserts and calorie-dense foods you love, but you don’t have to restrict yourself to foods you hate.
Make your weight-loss journey more enjoyable and more sustainable by creating a list of healthy foods you like and adding more of them into your diet. Do some research and educate yourself on the healthiest ways to prepare them.
You might find that you can continue to eat the foods you enjoy and still lose weight by just by changing how you cook them. Baking food instead of frying it, for example can cut calories.
Break the same-old eating patterns and look for new recipes on the internet. Have fun finding meals that are healthy and enjoyable. Check out EatingWell for some weight loss recipe favorites.
It’s all about variation: if you’re craving a burger, a double bacon cheeseburger might not be a good choice, but a lean organic chicken burger with a thin whole wheat bun can make for a great substitute.
Next time you head to the grocery store, bring a list of your favorite fruits and vegetables along with your favorite meals and look for the healthiest versions of them.
Adopting an optimistic mindset and continuously educating yourself on the most effective ways to lose weight and keep it off are the keys to a successful weight-loss journey.
Be proud of yourself for your desire and effort to change while appreciating your current status. Keeping the weight off can be difficult, and old habits won’t subside immediately, but these three simple tips can get you one step closer to achieving and maintaining your dream summer body.
Author Bio: Cara Berkeley is a marketing executive, entrepreneur, and lifestyle blogger who calls Nashville, TN home. She writes for www.magnoliablushes.com on beauty, style, and everyday life.