I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
“Losing weight is HARD but keeping it off is EVEN HARDER!”
While you can lose weight quickly by following a strict diet, you’ll most likely regain the weight back as quickly once you stop dieting.
This is a recipe for yo-yo dieting.
How do I know?
It’s because I’ve been there.
I lost more than 66 pounds doing keto and intermittent fasting for about 6 months. I regained half of the weight back in another 6 months after dieting.
So I went on and off the diet. Until I finally just gave up.
I just want to live life and stay healthy without depriving myself of any food that these diets won’t let me eat!
Don’t you feel the same?
Luckily, researchers have found a better solution for long-term, permanent weight loss.
The Long-Term Weight Loss Solution…
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you must make some permanent lifestyle changes.
The good news is, you don’t need to do some drastic changes to get the results you want.
In fact, more studies have found that doing small changes that you can develop into habits is a more sustainable way of losing weight.
If you’re not convinced then read this article citing a study on habit-based intervention for maintaining weight loss where the participants of a 12-week trial continued to lose weight even a year after it was conducted.
The weight loss was definitely not as quick nor as much as those promised by diets.
But the most important part is that the participants developed a healthy habit.
Habits are automatic. You do not need to convince yourself to do it. You just do it without even thinking about it.
So, are you ready to build a healthy habit to lose weight and get healthy?
Now, here are some small lifestyle changes that you can do to lose weight permanently.
Be sure to read till the end to learn how to make any of these a habit.
I’ve been maintaining my weight using some of these methods.
7 Small Habits to Lose Weight and Keep It Off Forever! (No Strict Diets!)
1. Start your meals with a low-calorie-dense soup or salad.
A study showed that consuming a large portion of low-energy-dense (meaning: food with low calorie per gram) salad prior to a meal reduced the intake of the main dish and overall calorie intake by an average of 12%. Consuming low-energy-dense soup also showed similar results according to other research.
This is mainly because of the high water content which adds volume and weight to the food without adding calories.
So why not just drink more water with every meal?
It turns out that based on another study, people felt fuller and consumed fewer calories when water was incorporated into a food (food with high water content) than when water was served as a beverage together with the food.
So start with low-calorie-dense soups or salads to make you full before you eat your meal.
Plus, it’s a good way of incorporating more vegetables into your diet.
Common low-calorie soups:
These are better than creamy ones that are high-calorie.
For salads, opt for low-calorie dressings like vinegar or a low-calorie version of your favorite dressing.
2. Prioritize filling your plate with low-calorie-dense foods and protein.
Notice I’m bringing up the low-calorie-dense term again?
These foods are rich in fiber and water content allowing you to eat more while consuming fewer calories. Isn’t it amazing?
Not convinced yet?
Multiple studies show that people eat a fairly consistent amount of food regardless of calorie content. They report the same feeling of fullness and satiety.
This shows that we are more concerned with how food fills our stomach.
What are low-calorie-dense foods anyway?
These foods either have high water content, lots of fiber or low fat which include
- whole grains
- lean meat
- low-fat dairy products.
The good news is, while most high-fat foods have a high-calorie density, increasing the water content of any food lowers its energy or calorie density. This includes high-fat foods.
You can read more about low-calorie-dense foods and the research behind it here.
What about protein?
Several studies found that a higher protein intake reduces the levels of hunger hormone ghrelin while increasing the level of several appetite-reducing hormones. This ultimately leads to overall lower calorie intake (up to 441 calories per day in this study) and weight loss.
By eating more of these foods, you also reduce your risk of bingeing on your favorite comfort foods.
It’s a win-win situation!
3. Grab a fruit for dessert.
Life isn’t complete without having something sweet! (It rhymes!)
Do you agree?
When I was on a keto diet, my cravings for sugar was low but I just can’t completely let it go. (It rhymes again!) So sometimes I eat or drink a few berries here and there.
When I got off keto, I was still afraid of eating sweets and desserts including fruits. I knew I would binge on them again after a few months of avoiding them… and I did.
That’s why many nutritionists actually encourage having some dessert, especially nutritious fruits, to aid in long-term weight loss!
As stated earlier, fruits are low-calorie-dense. They will keep you full and satisfy your sweet tooth while giving you nutrients and fiber.
4. Drink more water.
You’ve probably heard or read about this a million times before but it can’t be stressed enough.
It has been shown that most of the time, cravings are just a sign that you need to hydrate. That’s why it is important to keep a water bottle or tumbler within your reach.
There is also a lot of research showing that water increases the calories you burn at rest and drinking more water results in significant weight loss over time independent of any activity.
Drinking more water which has zero calorie also prevents you from taking in liquid calories from sodas, juices, sweetened coffee or tea, etc.
This might be the easiest thing you could do to lose weight in the long run. So don’t pass on this!
5. Drink black coffee or unsweetened tea.
You are probably already drinking coffee or tea but you most likely add sugar or sweeteners and creamers and whatnot that add calories to it.
Black coffee and unsweetened tea are zero calorie drinks that are famous in the weight loss world.
They both contain caffeine which is linked to increased energy levels, metabolic activity, and hunger suppression. Both also have a lot of antioxidants which can limit cell damage and boost your immune system.
However, up to now, there is no conclusive evidence supporting the link between coffee, tea, and weight loss.
Then why did I include it in this list?
Simply because making a habit of drinking sugarless coffee or tea can significantly reduce your daily sugar intake. You may also find yourself drinking less sweet juices and other liquid calories.
These small calorie savings can add up and eventually help you lose weight!
For me, drinking black coffee and unsweetened tea helps me regulate my cravings for sweets. It also trains my taste buds to the taste of bitter coffee or bland tea and to not be spoiled by sweet drinks.
Just be careful not to over-consume coffee and tea to avoid palpitation, anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty sleeping.
That’s why I limit my coffee and tea intake to a max of 3 cups per day. Although you can get away with more cups of tea since it has less caffeine than coffee.
And if you’re like me, don’t consume them on an empty stomach which to avoid an irritable bowel (IBS).
6. Snack on satisfying and nutrient-dense foods.
When I tried Intermittent Fasting on its own, I tried not to snack too much.
Guess what happened? It only made me binge and overeat!
So instead of depriving myself of snacks, I gave in. But I made sure that I didn’t get back to eating lots of junk foods.
I chose a few healthy and satisfying snacks and stocked up on them.
Nutritionists and some studies also encourage snacking on healthy foods. It helps regulate your blood sugar and prevent you from overeating on your next meal.
Some of the recommended healthy snacks include nuts, seeds, fruits, legumes, whole grains, greek yogurt, etc.
If you love to snack, then you’ll love this. Just try it for yourself!
7. Sneak in a little extra movement.
This is the only thing related to exercise in the list. I didn’t even phrase it to say “exercise”.
The reason is that, if you are reading this blog, then you’re most likely overweight.
It’s harder to move when you’re overweight. It’s easier to just quit than get frustrated.
You also probably heard that: “Weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise.” Or: “You can’t out-train a bad diet.”
And that’s true! The calories you worked hard burning may easily be offset by food.
Also, exercising usually makes you want to eat more to replenish your energy. So it may lead to overeating.
So I suggest, doing this in conjunction with any of the things on the list.
You could try something like:
- standing up from time-to-time
- doing a quick chore after waking up
- parking your car a bit farther to force you to walk
- doing 4 minute exercises daily.
Again, these small things could add up and are better than nothing!
Want some inspiration? Watch this video of someone who started with just 15 minutes of jumping rope a day and lost 125 lbs:
What’s important is to pick something you could enjoy doing and stay consistent.
And once you get the habit of moving more, you can slowly level up to more intense stuff.
I actually got myself to start exercising daily using the techniques below. If you’re particularly interested in exercising then I suggest you read my guide on the powerful trick to exercising daily using 4-minute workouts and how to exercise in the morning: the amazing benefits plus proven tips that work to get you started.
How Can I Make a Healthy Habit?
Before we go on to the nitty-gritty, I want you to understand a few things.
Did you notice that I never used the word “Don’t” or “Avoid” in phrasing each item?
That’s because you can’t create a habit of not doing something. So instead of telling you not to eat desserts, I told you to grab fruit for dessert.
It’s much easier to just add or change a behavior than to quit it entirely.
One more thing, the items on the list will help you lose weight by:
- Consuming fewer calories and reduce cravings while feeling satisfied (Nos. 1-6)
- Burning calories through physical activity (No. 7)
Now that everything’s clarified, let’s move on.
The steps I’m gonna teach are based on an article by Benjamin Gardner posted on the British Journal of General Practice.
These steps on habit building are very powerful. If you want to learn more about habits, I really recommend you read these resources:
- The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Mini Habits for Weight Loss by Stephen Guise
Prepare a pen and paper to follow the steps or better yet —
Click Here to Download the FREE Healthy Weight Loss Habit Workbook to Get You Started!
Step 1: Choose something you know you can do and are interested in doing.
Go over the list above. Choose the one that you’re most interested in doing and that you know you can stick to.
I know that the ones on the list are very easy to do. But just pick one that you can focus on until you make it a habit. After this, you can start another one.
Why is this important?
You may have heard that it takes around 21 days to form a habit.
However, a research study found that it takes an average of 66 days for a behavior to become automatic with results varying from as little as 18 days to 245 days. Expect habit formations to take around 10 weeks.
So choose something you could stick to for at least 10 weeks.
You may think that it takes too long. Don’t worry, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Eventually, you’ll be doing it automatically without even thinking about it!
Plus, you will reap the benefits (weight loss and better health) for life!
In the workbook, write the habit you chose to make in the box labeled “My Goal”.
So for example, if you chose number 1 from the list:
My Goal: To start my meals with a low-calorie-dense soup or salad.
Step 2: Plan when and where you will do your chosen action.
Choose a time and place that you encounter every day of the week.
So continuing from the example on step 1:
“When I take my lunch at our office cafeteria, I will start my meal with bone broth vegetable soup.”
In your workbook, I divided this into What, When, and Where.
What: Start my meal with bone broth vegetable soup.
When: When I take my lunch.
Where: At our office cafeteria.
You’ll notice there’s a “How” box, that’s the next step.
Step 3: Make it even easier to do.
Consider thinking about the possible hindrances or barriers that you may encounter and address it ahead of time.
You could also try making a reminder on your phone until you get used to doing it without being reminded.
Let’s continue the example I gave on step 2.
If for some reason, you don’t have access to a soup at your office. Think of a way to fix that issue.
You could try packing soup for lunch and just reheat it before your lunch break. You could also have it delivered to you before lunch!
So in your workbook, you could put something like this:
How: By having the soup delivered to me before lunch.
Just think of something that may hinder you from doing it and address that issue.
Step 4: Do the action you chose every time you encounter the time and place you specified.
Our goal here is to train your brain to associate the action that you chose (start with bone broth vegetable soup) to the time (when I take my lunch) and place (at our office cafeteria) that you specified.
This is done through repetition.
Don’t worry if you miss a day. Just do it again the next day. You’ll address that on the next step.
Step 5: Track your progress.
You’ll notice that there is a daily table with columns for up to 10 weeks in the workbook.
If you’ve done the action on that day then tick it. Otherwise, leave it blank.
At the end of each week, evaluate if you’ve done the action on more than 5 days that week. Write yes or no.
You could also rate how automatic the action felt for you after each week. Rate from 1 (not automatic at all) to 10 (completely automatic).
At the bottom part of the worksheet, I added a space for notes.
If you miss a day, note the reason why and try to find a solution.
Now it’s your turn… It’s up to you to make it happen!
Haven’t downloaded the FREE Healthy Weight Loss Habits Workbook yet?
Click Here to Download the FREE Healthy Weight Loss Habit Workbook and Start Now!
I’ve already given you everything you could use to start making your own healthy weight loss habit.
I can’t make a new habit for you. You have to do it yourself.
So which of the 7 easy habits do you want to start with? Comment below.