Safe Ways To Lose Weight and Maintain Your Body

Key Points

  • Before starting a weight loss journey, consult your doctor about health concerns.

  • Journal what you eat before losing weight to see where to make cuts.

  • Maintain your weight loss by sticking to a healthy diet while only occasionally indulging in treats.

Wouldn't it be lovely if you could take a pill, go to sleep, and wake up 10 pounds lighter the next day? Magical weight loss is a dream, not a reality. As much as you want to cut weight quickly — and keep it off — your body doesn't work that way.

When you decide to lose weight, there are specific steps you need to take to lose pounds safely. It's essential to consider the permanency of weight loss, too. Fad diets may help you to shed pounds fast, but they can also damage your metabolism. The second you stop the hot trend, the weight comes right back.

Associate Health and Fitness Editor at Men's Health and certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor Cori Ritchey says, "Unfortunately, losing weight fast almost always means extreme restriction and an unhealthy amount of exercise. And, even more unfortunately, that means it's easy to gain that weight right back when you're bound to take a break from your regimen."

There aren't any hard and fast rules regarding how your body loses weight because each person is unique. However, specific tips can help most people get to their ideal weight — and stay there. Here are some healthy ways to lose weight and maintain that weight loss for the long term.

Consult Your Doctor

Before you start any weight loss program, it's in your best interest to talk to your doctor about the fact that you want to lose weight. Keeping your physician in the loop about workout plans is critical since they understand the underlying risks.

For example, if you have diabetes, you must closely monitor your blood sugar levels. You don't want to skip meals or drastically alter your diet, which may be catastrophic to your health.

Woman speaking with doctor

How Much Weight Do You Need To Lose?

Your doctor will either support or oppose a change in your weight, and they likely have already discussed it with you. If losing weight is your idea, your doctor can share statistics involving your body mass index (BMI) and what a typical BMI is for your height and age.

Additional information is always helpful, but don't put too much stock into statistics. The BMI chart can be beneficial but doesn't account for muscle mass and skews slightly anyway.

Part of a proper weight loss plan is setting a realistic, attainable goal. Perhaps you want to lose half a pound a week. Mark the calendar with your doctor and work toward that end date healthily under their oversight.

If the weight loss plan you're considering involves any diet pills or supplements, your doctor needs to know about it. Their professional advice and opinion help you to get your weight loss on the right path the first time instead of using too much trial and error.

Journal Your Food

It's hard to know how many calories you take into your body daily if you don't track your consumption. Food journals are a pain, but they're incredibly beneficial. Track your meals using a reliable nutrition app or keep a good ole fashioned paper journal.

Woman writing meals in journal

Try documenting your food intake before you try to lose weight, and you'll quickly see how much you eat. Perhaps more importantly, you'll be able to determine where you may be able to cut out empty calories — high-calorie foods with minimal or zero nutrition.

Soda is an excellent example of an empty-calorie food. If you drink a lot of soda, cutting back to one a day or switching to unsweetened tea helps you immediately remove excess sugar and calories.

Create a Food Plan

You won't have a successful weight loss session if you don't have a plan. Once you recognize what you eat each day, sit down with your food journal and map out a plan. How do you want to approach this diet? Do you want to eat a certain number of calories per day?

If you choose to monitor calories, make sure you avoid severe caloric deficits, however, because cutting back too far puts your body into starvation mode. When your body thinks it's starving, it holds onto calories and fat, making it even harder to lose weight.

Instead of counting calories, you could increase your protein and vegetable intake. Replacing highly processed foods and carbohydrates with protein and vegetables ensures you're eating nutrient-dense food.

When you consume protein, your muscles get the necessary fuel, accelerating the rate your body burns body fat. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, extra servings of veggies will nourish your body.

Specific diets dictate what you can and can't eat, creating a food plan for you. If you have a particular diet in mind, look up recipes to make some easy go-to meals to ensure you always have compatible food on hand.

Woman selecting vegetable

Upgrade Your Exercise

What kind of exercise do you currently take part in regularly? If you don't work out at all, it's time to start.

If you're a daily walker, try jogging or cycling instead to elevate your workouts to a new level. Working out isn't something everyone enjoys, but exercising with a buddy makes it easier to stay committed. Variety also helps keep motivation high, and there are enough options for moving your body that anyone can appreciate.

Decide what types of exercise you want to commit to, and create a plan. Are you interested in nature? Try mountain biking or hiking to get some fresh air. Create an at-home workout routine to get fit in the comfort of your house. Join a local gym or take exercise classes with a group instructor.

Full Body Fitness

Many workouts target specific areas of the body. If you enjoy biking, that's a great leg workout, but what about your arms? Pair weight lifting with biking or another form of cardio so your whole body gets the exercise it needs.

You may have specific areas of your body that need more attention than others. It's important to remember that you can't "spot-lose" weight; it comes off at different rates and places for everyone. Yoga is a great way to tone the entire body with stretches and poses that help build muscle and flexibility.

Woman doing exercise

Make Life Changes

If you're a notorious yo-yo dieter, you know how to lose weight. However, keeping that weight off is a whole other animal. As you face your weight-loss journey, you may need to make changes to your lifestyle; choose small changes you can stick to as time passes.

Those who decide to cut carbs out of their life may lose weight quickly, but once they eat carbs again, the pounds will pile on. Your diet needs to be balanced and sustainable, so be realistic. Don't cut so much out that you deprive yourself.

Start Small and Work Up

It may feel impossible to give up certain things, like soda. You don't have to quit cold turkey to lose weight and maintain your new body, and it's much easier to start small and work up to a significant change.

If you drink a soda with every meal, try cutting back to one daily. Then, once you've adjusted, have one every other day before making soda an occasional treat throughout the week or month.

Minor changes are easier to stick with, both in the short and long term. If you tell yourself you can never eat chocolate again, good luck. It's likely the only thing your body craves, and eventually, you may give in and go wild on that delectable treat.

Your body doesn't notice small changes nearly as much, but you can still get significant results that last.

Follow a 90/10 Rule

When you want to lose weight, adhere to your weight loss plan as best you can and watch the weight melt away. As you enter into the maintenance phase, consider the 90/10 rule. The 90/10 rule allows you to eat fun foods 10 percent of the time as long as you stick to your healthy diet the other 90 percent.

Just because you lost weight doesn't mean you never have treats and desserts again. At the same time, now that you're at your goal weight, don't revert to your old eating habits. Eat healthy foods — lean protein, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts — most of the time, but treat yourself occasionally.

You're less likely to feel deprived by enjoying treats occasionally and more likely to keep your goal weight intact.

Doing exercise from laptop

Decide How It Works

Some dieters like to be very strict about what they eat six days a week, but on the seventh day, they allow themselves a cheat day. That works for some people as long as they don't go ham on the cheat day. Similarly, some people build in a cheat meal once a week; eat whatever you like, but only once.

Still, others like to eat healthy as the norm but allow themselves treats on special occasions. The 90/10 rule only works if you decide how to use it to keep your weight within a manageable, healthy range.

Give Yourself Leeway

Even if you reach the exact weight you want during your diet, it doesn't mean you have to stick to that weight as time passes. Perhaps you give yourself a small range to reside in because body weight fluctuates — even throughout the day — for various reasons. Decide that as long as you're within five pounds of your goal weight, you're happy with your maintenance.

If you exceed those five pounds, start the weight loss process to return to where you want to be. Taking off a pound or two is much easier than taking off 10 or more.

Commiserate With Others

Part of a successful weight loss plan often hinges on other people. You must do the hard work, muster the willpower, and exercise discipline to adhere to your workout regimen. It's best to have support behind you to cheer you on and celebrate your successes.

The support you choose could be an online community, a weight loss clinic, a close friend, a peer trying to lose weight, or your significant other.

What About Weight Loss Products?

Be careful with weight loss products, as some are better than others. There's no such thing as a miracle weight loss product, but there are items that can help you with your health journey.

Some products help you fill your body with good nutrients so you're not hungry for empty calories; others allow you to eat a few wrong things without ruining your diet completely. Here are a few options to consider:

Protein Drinks

Protein drinks are a great go-to item for those trying to lose weight. They work well to supplement meals, upgrade your protein intake, and reduce hunger throughout the day. Some protein shakes are even suitable as meal replacements.

Making protein shake

Fat and Carb Blockers

Fat and carb blockers are helpful supplements when consuming an irregular meal. You don't want to ruin your efforts completely, and these pills block 50 to 65 percent of the fat and carbs in certain foods.

You don't want to take a blocker more than once a day, and it's best to make it an exception, not the rule.

Meet Your Goals

Each individual is unique and special, and the weight loss plan you need may differ from the one your friend is following. Find what works for you and concentrate on a goal that makes you feel good and is attainable.

In the end, you're the one that has to live with your body — you deserve to be happy in it. Moreover, while there are products to help, people to support you, and tips in abundance, only you can do the work and maintain your body.

Looking for more tips on staying fit and working out? Visit Fit&Fab for tons of articles on running, working out, and thriving.

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