Losing weight and maintaining your results for years to come isn’t about following the latest fad diet, detox, or newest exercise program.
Getting results, like the kind our transformation challenge contestants earn, requires patience, commitment, and the implementation of simple, healthy, sustainable lifestyle habits.
Here are 10 fool-proof tips you can start doing today so you can get the weight off and keep it off even during those times when you’re stressed or busy.
10 Non-Diet Tips for Weight Loss
#1 Don’t Focus on Perfection
The old saying goes “perfection is the enemy of good,” and many a weight loss journeys have been derailed (perhaps even one of your previous attempts) by trying to be too perfect with diet and exercise.
Trying to be perfect all the time is a recipe for disaster. We’re human, which means we’re bound to mess up from time to time.
The focus during your transformation challenge shouldn’t be on trying to be perfect 100% of the time. The focus should be on making the right choices the majority of the time.
In practice, this means viewing each day as an opportunity to make the best decisions possible regarding your nutrition and exercise. If you happen to have a piece of chocolate or bite of cake at a get-together, enjoy it and the company of the people you’re with. Don’t beat yourself up over it or give up hope. DO get back on track with your meal plan at the next opportunity.
The same goes for your exercise regimen. If you happen to miss a workout one day, it doesn’t mean everything you’ve done up until this point is a waste. Simply chalk it up to a one-off mishap and get right back into the groove tomorrow.
#2 Have Fun
Training is a vital part of your transformation challenge. It helps build strength and tone muscles. But, it should also be fun.
Exercise doesn’t have to be miserable or feel like you’re a contestant on the Biggest Loser where you’re running and box jumping until you puke or pass out.
Physical activity is important, but so too is your enjoyment of it. If you aren’t motivated to engage in a certain type of exercise, then the chances of you actually showing up each day to do it are slim to none.
In other words, choose forms of exercise that motivate and excite you to show up and get after it each day. This could mean doing a mix of resistance training, walking, hiking, yoga, running, cycling, rowing, and/or dance classes.
Whatever it is, find one (or more) modes of exercise you like and do it!
#3 Establish Your “Why”
Individuals who have the most success losing weight (and keeping it off) have a strong reason for doing so (aka their “why”).
Wanting to have a six-pack or look good in a swimsuit is a fine goal, but it’s not one that’s sure to last.
When trying to find your why ask yourself some introspective, hard-hitting questions.
Do you want to be able to lift a certain amount of weight? Do you want to be able to have more energy during the day? Do you want to be able to keep up with your kids? Do you want to try to reduce how many medications you’re taking for lifestyle conditions?
Writing down your goals and reasons for wanting to accomplish them will serve as powerful motivators during your transformation challenge and help you track your progress along the way.
#4 Get Support
Building off of the last point, another habit of successful individuals who lose weight and keep it off is that they have a strong support network of family, friends, and loved ones who provide encouragement and motivation, especially during those times when you’re tempted to shirk your diet and exercise plan.
Weight loss (as well as most other meaningful endeavors in life) has its ups and downs. Going it alone is possible, but not the easiest (or most efficient) thing to do.
Additionally, you don’t just have to rely on your network for support, you can get them involved too!
Challenge them to a step off (who can get the most steps each day/week). Have them go for a walk/run. Bring them to the gym with you for a lift.
If they’re particularly good at cooking, you could even recruit them to help you meal prep!
#5 Manage Stress
Losing weight can be an incredibly stressful experience for some individuals, both mentally and physically.
The combination of eating less and forcing yourself to be more active during the day is enough to make even the most level-headed individuals feel on edge.
However, it’s important to work on stress management techniques, like breathing drills, mediation, or spending time in nature.
When we’re chronically stressed, cortisol levels remain elevated, which is known to lead to a number of unwanted consequences, including increased feelings of hunger, reduced motivation to exercise, decreased feelings of satiety, and impaired recovery.
Left unchecked for long enough, high cortisol levels are also known to promote fat gain and accelerate muscle breakdown![1,2]
We realize that it’s not possible to completely eliminate all stress from daily life (some is needed after all, like exercise), but it’s important (nigh essential) to manage how you respond to stress. Going for a walk, talking to a friend, or having a cup of herbal tea are all things you can do when starting to feel like stress is getting the best of you.
#6 Add First, Subtract Later
Building off of the previous point, one of the reasons many individuals feel stressed when dieting is that they are under the impression they have to constantly remove things from their diet -- no candy, no carbs, no alcohol, no staying up late, no skipping workouts, etc.
However, when your focus is on removing things, you’re creating a negative mindset towards your transformation challenge, which significantly increases the mental hurdles you’re going to face over the coming weeks.
Instead of focusing on what you can’t have or what you have to remove from your diet, approach it from the opposite end of the spectrum (i.e. what can you add to your daily life that still helps you work towards your goals).
For instance, maybe you could add a new dish to your weekly rotation of meals, or maybe experiment with a new cooking technique or vegetable. In addition to the food side of weight loss, you could also add a new type of exercise to your training routine. Instead of performing the same type of cardio each week, why not try a new style, like yoga, pilates, boxing classes, or rowing?
#7 Get Enough Sleep
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again (and again and again).
One of the absolute best things you can do for your health, recovery, performance, and weight loss results is get enough sleep each and every night.
Not getting enough sleep is incredibly stressful to the body and leads to significant increases in cortisol levels, which results in a number of unwanted effects (as we detailed above in point #5).
Researchers recommend getting between 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
If you need help getting quality sleep each night, you can try:
- Setting a specific time to go to bed each night
- Establishing a bedtime ritual to signal to the body it’s time to “power down” for the night
- Avoid blue light (TV, laptop, smartphone, tablet, LED lights, etc.) 2 hours before bed
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake before bed
- Limit exposure to stressors before bed (social media, news, work emails, etc.)
- Drink herbal tea like chamomile
- Listen to calming music
- Breathing drills
Our nighttime relaxation and recovery aids include natural, non-habit forming ingredients like L-Theanine, Valerian root, and tryptophan, which help reduce feelings of stress and promote calm relaxation, helping you achieve deep restorative sleep without the groggy, hungover feeling the morning after.
#8 Stay Informed
There’s no shortage of quality information out there when it comes to fitness, nutrition, supplementation, or living a healthy lifestyle.
Listen to a few of your favorite podcasts, pick up a new healthy recipes cookbook, or check out the latest article on the 1UP blog.
Keeping abreast of the latest diet, training, and supplementation strategies for weight loss can help you sort through the “noise” that abounds in the fitness industry, keep you motivated, and offer new ways for you to increase your results.
#9 Look Beyond the Scale
So often during weight loss journeys, individuals become fixated on a number on the scale, with the belief that if it isn’t constantly going down, they’re not making any progress.
But, the number on the scale doesn’t always tell the full picture.
The number on the scale is a way to track progress during your transformation challenge, but it isn’t the only way to see if your diet and exercise program is working.
For instance, you can track:
- How is your performance in the gym?
- How is your recovery?
- How are your clothes fitting?
- How are your energy levels?
- How are your progress pictures improving from week to week?
- How are your body measurements (waist, hips, chest, thighs, etc.)?
All of these pieces of data (in addition to the number on the scale) help build a more complete picture if your plan of action is working or not.
#10 Be Kind to Yourself
Losing weight requires dedication, consistency, effort, and above all patience. You didn’t get the body you currently have overnight, and working your way to the body you want isn’t going to happen overnight either.
That’s a hard pill to swallow for many people, but it’s imperative that you understand and accept it.
By realizing that weight loss takes time (and there may even be plateaus along the way), you’ll avoid having negative self-talk, which can exacerbate the stress of dieting and weight loss.
If you slip up and have something off your meal plan one time, realize it’s not the end of the world. All of your hard work isn’t wasted. Accept what you did, try to understand why you did it, and then get right back on track with your plan.
Giving yourself grace and maintaining a positive outlook are essential components to mental health and achieving the weight loss results you want.
- Gore DC, Jahoor F, Wolfe RR, Herndon DN. Acute response of human muscle protein to catabolic hormones. Ann Surg. 1993 Nov;218(5):679-84. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199321850-00015. PMID: 8239784; PMCID: PMC1243041.
- Moyer AE, Rodin J, Grilo CM, Cummings N, Larson LM, Rebuffé-Scrive M. Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women. Obes Res. 1994 May;2(3):255-62. doi: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1994.tb00055.x. PMID: 16353426.