Weight loss is full of "eat this, not that" or must-dos to prove you're taking things seriously. But how can one-size-fits-all rules apply when every body (literally) is different? Instead of restricting yourself, go ahead and cheat on these weight loss rules and you'll still see results.
1. Make your biggest vices “off limits.”
Restricting yourself from dessert or your biggest craving will only make you pine for it more. “Everything in moderation” may not be the best mantra to live by as you can’t lose weight eating small bites of sweets all day every day and expect results. Instead, allow yourself a single small indulgence to curb your cravings; dark chocolate is a perfect sweet solution!
2. Always buy low-fat or fat-free products.
This is a particular cheat when it comes to dairy products. Many studies have debunked the myth that fat-free milk will help you lower the risk of cardiovascular issues, diabetes and obesity. In fact, researchers think full-fat milk and dairy products can actually aid in weight loss more than low-fat or fat-free options.
3. Cut carbs to see results.
Cutting carbs—especially after lunch—can help you lose weight, but this applies mainly to refined carbs. Complex carbs like whole grains, beans and vegetables are still good for your body and give you essential nutrients, so it won’t wreck your diet to have brown rice with your evening meal.
4. Drink only water.
Yes, you should aim to drink at least a half gallon of water each day, but it’s not the only good-for-you hydrating drink you should be gulping! Having a cup of coffee in the morning can give your body a healthy boost and green tea certainly packs major health and even weight loss benefits. If you’re exercising intensely, you’ll also want to fuel your body with a post-workout protein shake!
5. Stick strictly to your plan.
If you’re using a weight loss program, sticking to the menu will help you lose weight in a healthy way, but no weight loss plan is totally personalized. Depending on your starting weight, whether your pregnant or nursing, or any dietary complications, your body may need more food than for what the plan calls. If you’re starving, eat! Just make sure you’re snacking on healthy veggies instead of reaching into the chip bag.
6. Eat by the clock.
Again, you know your body best. You should be eating regularly to stabilize your blood sugar levels and boost metabolism, but don’t force yourself to eat at exact hours and at no other time. If you’re hungry, give your body the fuel it needs with high fiber, protein-packed bites.
7. Work out every day.
If you push your body to its limit every single day, you’ll be much more likely to injure yourself or to destroy the tissue protecting your joints. Take active rest days once or twice a week to allow your muscles to heal and to prevent a workout plateau! Run around with the kids, stretch or do housework to get your body moving without putting stress on your joints and muscles.
8. Only high-intensity cardio workouts will yield results.
If you’re consistently working out at your max heart rate, you may actually be doing more harm than good for weight loss. Cardio will burn calories fastest, but weight training, will help you see true changes in your body. Find a balance of cardio, strength and low-impact workouts like yoga to give you a well-rounded workout regimen.
9. Only fancy gym equipment works.
If going to the gym helps you stay motivated, great; keep going! But if you’re a busy woman who’s pressed for time, gym dates aren’t a requirement. Build a mini gym at your home with a few essential pieces of equipment like dumbbells, a kettlebell, a resistance band and stability ball. Utilize at-home videos or build your own workout according to your fitness level.
10. Set a hard goal for pounds lost.
Setting a reasonable goal weight is a solid starting place, especially if your current weight puts you at risk for serious health issues. But the scale doesn’t always give you an accurate measure of your progress. Fat and muscle actually weigh the same, so measuring inches lost or even noticing the differences in the way your clothes fit can be just as important!
11. Change your lifestyle dramatically and don’t look back.
The biggest mistake a sedentary person can make when beginning a weight loss journey is to try to change too many things at once. Shocking your body by cutting calories, working out, ditching sodas, prepping foods, and logging your habits will likely cause you to fall back into old habits as these are huge, scary changes! Commit to slow, reasonable progress to succeed in losing fat and building a healthier lifestyle.