Summer has officially given way to fall, and we’ll miss the cookouts, days at the lake, and leisurely evening walks. One thing we won’t miss one bit: those overly bright “bikini body” ads and “get ripped fast” diet plans featured in virtually every magazine and commercial.
There’s something comforting about the cooler fall weather: we’re excited about blankets and scarves, hot tea, and pumpkin everything. But it’s not hibernation season yet. Autumn is the perfect time to maintain and manage your weight after the summer crash dieting is over – and we’ve got plenty of pointers.
Part 1: Plan for success.
You’ve heard it a thousand times: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. While kids across the country are getting back into the swing of school agendas and due dates, you can get in on the notebook-buying frenzy and start planning your weight loss or management for the next few months.
In the long term, you’ll be able to ditch those desperate “5 weeks to a bikini-ready bod” and “6-weeks to a 6-pack” crash diets if you start maintaining your weight right now. In the short term, you’ll be able to fit into your favorite pants and holiday and still enjoy the occasional hot chocolate and festive treat. Starting out really is the hardest part – but if you do it now, everything else will fall into place.
Make some goals. Think like you did pre-summer: you’ll need an incentive, and you’ll need realistic, attainable goals. Here are some examples:
- Try to shave a few seconds off of your best mile run.
- Add 5 pounds to your weight-bearing exercises.
- Swap your dessert or sweet snack for a piece of fruit for 1 week.
- Go to bed 20 minutes earlier.
- Take your coffee black – try it for a week, then see how much milk or sweetener you want to add in 7 days.
Do your research. While you don’t need to bury yourself in health studies and macronutrient ratios, it’s important that you know how to interpret nutrition labels and know some basic portion guidelines. Greatist is a, well, great catch-all for wellness questions – and should you wish to immerse yourself in academic studies, each article links to super-relevant, credible research.
Dine out smart. Going to a restaurant is about more than food: it’s an experience, and you don’t have to completely skip socializing to maintain your weight.
- If you know where you’ll be eating ahead of time, check out the menu online so you’ll have time to put a meal together with more than 3 minutes’ worth of consideration.
- Bring your work to lunch – it just takes a few minutes of prep time (hello, leftovers), and you’ll save a ton of money.
Keep yourself accountable. Whether you tell your significant other about your intentions or you make a fitness date with yourself on your calendar, you’ll need something external to you that will remind you of your goals. Keeping a meal and workout journal can also help you hold yourself accountable. (We like MyFitnessPal or a nice, old-school notebook.)
Be optimistic. One of the worst things you can do for your body – not to mention your overall well-being, your relationships, and your productivity – is have a negative mindset.
- If you’re resentful of your weight loss plan – if you dread exercising and get no satisfaction from your meals – then you’re more likely to ditch it altogether. Whenever that defeatist voice in your head says something like “skip a workout”, ask yourself: what is in my best interest?
- Instead of beating yourself up for not losing as much weight as you’d planned fort this week, or having a not-so-healthy snack, let the negative moments pass. Accept them, and reward yourself for meeting those small goals you’ve set.
- When you do something for yourself, you’ll feel good; when you feel good, you’ll keep practicing that self-rewarding behavior. Optimism sets you up for success.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be giving you more tips on long-term weight management and weight loss. The most important thing you can do for yourself when trying to manage your weight is to make a solid, detailed plan. Start today on yours, and you’ll be ready to implement a healthy, happy lifestyle that makes you look good and feel good.
Check out the other posts in this series:
Part 2: Eating with Intention
Part 3: Move Every Day
Part 4: Invest in Your Self-Image