7 Keys for Your Healthy, Sustainable Weight Loss Journey

Ella Martin
7 min readMay 8, 2024

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Does weight loss feel hard and even impossible to you? Have you tried a variety of diets only to go off the diet and gain back the weight, plus more? You’re not alone. One study showed that 40% of participants in a weight loss program gained it back within three years (“Do Diets Really Just Make You Fatter?”).

The diet industry has failed you. They’ve hyped you up with promises of fast weight loss and getting back into the size you used to fit in high school. They’ve delivered approaches that aren’t sustainable or healthy. And leave you fatigued and craving everything you can’t have while you’re on the diet.

Were you burned on diets that were imbalanced and too extreme? You’re looking for a more sustainable way to lose weight, yet it has crept up every year. With each diet, you’ve only seen another seesaw effect and a few more pounds. Weight loss doesn’t have to be like this.

Weight loss takes time, energy, and strategy. Yet fad diets and fast weight loss often cause more harm than good. Nobody knows this better than you — after trying multiple diets only to see them fail.

Is sustainable, healthy weight a well-kept secret? No. Is it surrounded by a lot of hype and marketing? No. It’s quieter and less flashy. But it works.

I watched my own weight creep up for several years. When I decided I need to put focused effort toward losing weight, I spoke with a coach from a well-known diet you’ve probably heard of. After asking a few questions about their approach, I said no.

I wanted a slower, steadier approach. I wanted a less expensive approach. So that’s what I did — I chose that slower, less expensive approach.

Here’s the key I found — healthy, sustainable weight loss starts with incremental lifestyle changes.

I added a small, healthy habit. Then I added another habit the next day. I did it again the next week. I started spacing out my meals and snacks every 3 to 4 hours. Another one was taking a walk every day.

Think about the snowball effect. One change builds on another creating more and more momentum. Making small lifestyle changes and sticking to them will do more for your health than the latest fad diet your friends are talking about.

Here are 7 tips for healthy, sustainable weight loss. Add them one at a time into your life, and they will lead to weight loss. Some may be easier than others. But most are simple. All you need is a commitment to building them into your life.

1. Eat Protein with Every Meal and Snack

Look at protein as if it’s the foundation of every meal or snack. Why is protein important? It supplies the essential building blocks for your body. It repairs and rebuilds your cells. When you eat protein with your carbs and fats, it slows down the absorption rate as your digestive system breaks down the food.

As you eat plenty of protein, you’ll feel full and satisfied. This cuts down on cravings you might experience otherwise. So stock up on protein like meat, cheese, nuts, and beans. Pair them with a veggie or fruit and you’re good to go for a quick protein snack. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Yogurt and blueberries
  • A cheese stick with strawberries
  • Deli meat wrapped around a celery stick
  • Nuts and your choice of fruit
  • Hummus and carrots

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Why is staying hydrated so important? Water helps you burn calories faster and is a metabolism booster. Like eating protein, drinking water helps you feel full and satisfied. Here are a few of the amazing things water does for your body —

  • flushes out toxins
  • helps suppress your appetite
  • lubricates your joints

Carry a water bottle around with you throughout the day, even when you’re at home. Set a reminder on your phone to prompt you in case you forgot to drink water. Have some water on your nightstand before you go to bed and drink it when you wake up.

3. Avoid Eating Out to Lose Weight

It’s no secret that most of us eat out many times a week. It’s understandable in our busy lives, but it makes weight loss more difficult.

Is eating out a frequent occurrence for you? Make a few adjustments such as choosing only to eat out a certain day or two of the week. Try this for a few weeks or a month and then step on the scale to see the change!

Part of the key here is replacing those meals with healthy, home-prepped meals. Add it by making one home-cooked meal a week. Add another one a few weeks later.

Experiment with healthy, simple meals that don’t take long to prep. Try protein smoothies, make a salad, or create a bowl with meat and veggies. Don’t forget to add seasoning. You don’t need to be a master chef to make easy, delicious meals at home.

4. Pay Attention to Food Labels

Many of the foods we have available in stores now carry ingredients that few of us know how to pronounce. While not every one of those ingredients is bad, some are. Preservatives and added sugar aren’t healthy or good for your waistline. A few notable things to avoid —

  • artificial sweeteners
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • food dyes

Don’t forget to glance at the ingredient list of foods labeled sugar-free. Sometimes you’ll see other harmful sweeteners, so learn to recognize those. These are some examples —

  • maltose
  • dextrose
  • sucrose
  • maltodextrin

Whole foods are your friends. By avoiding packaged foods and/or carefully choosing the packaged foods you eat, you’ll see progress with weight loss.

5. Move Every Day

Going on a walk is underrated. There’s a lot of hype around strength training and implementing intense exercise to tone your body. What’s wrong with tackling challenging workouts and enjoying the results? Nothing — if that keeps you motivated, it’s great.

But we don’t talk enough about the power of small, sustained efforts over time to yield results. So if you don’t feel like running, go for a walk. Get out of your office chair and stretch several times. Try this four-minute workout that’s designed to jump-start your metabolism. Whatever you do, choose to do it daily or a few times a week, adding a little bit more over time.

6. Don’t Starve Yourself to Lose Weight

I don’t know what your chosen method is to manage your weight loss and watch your diet. It might be calorie counting, intermittent fasting, or something else. Everybody has to find the method that works for them, their unique body, and their life situation.

Don’t limit your calories to an extreme level only to see the pounds drop off fast. This kind of weight loss won’t stick long and puts stress on your body. Sure, do intermittent fasting if it’s your thing. It works for many. But reconsider if it leads to headaches or fatigue. Find the gentle, persistent adjustments that allow your body to release weight naturally.

Your body needs nourishment. Your body needs attention and care. Your body is made to move every day, and carry you through the daily stressors and challenges of life. Your body does incredible things for you.

Forcing yourself to drop the pounds quickly could cause your metabolism to slow down. Your body may try to hold the weight instead of releasing it. Be kind to your body.

7. Set Realistic Expectations for Losing Weight

We’re bombarded with commercials and visual images of bodies every day. Many of these images promote an unrealistic thin ideal. We may know those bodies were edited. But it’s safe to say a subconscious part of our brain still sees them as ideal, and a goal we should strive for.

Keep in mind the weight you were in high school may not be the weight you need to be today to be healthy. You may have carried a baby since then. You may have seen health challenges since then. All these factors play into what might be a healthy and doable goal for you.

Set a number goal if you want to, but don’t forget to ask yourself if it’s doable for you. Ask yourself if it’s realistic and healthy in your season of life.

Starting Your Own Journey to Healthy, Sustainable Weightloss

There you have it — it’s not hype. It’s not another diet promising instant results. It’s incremental lifestyle changes that will help you lose weight, keep it off, and stay healthy while you do it. Those lifestyle changes don’t have to be overwhelming and dramatic. They don’t have to be added all at once.

One small change and then another small change and just enough persistence to stick with it. This is enough to start your life-long to healthy, sustainable weight loss.

Don’t look for perfection or a skinny ideal imposed on you by someone or something external. Don’t push for fast results over long-term health. Aim for steady, consistent weight loss. Aim for a healthy, strong body. Aim for the strength and energy to pursue a fulfilling, vibrant life.

Which one of these tips resonated with you?

Reference:

“Do Diets Really Just Make You Fatter?” Healthline, 9 Mar. 2020, www.healthline.com/nutrition/do-diets-make-you-gain-weight#success-rates.

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