There’s so much conflicting information out there when it comes to weight loss. Some say “eat this, not that,” while others say the exact opposite — and all of it sounds valid and credible! The truth is, there’s no one plan or diet that works for everyone, and that extends well beyond weight loss goals.
The idea of weight loss, in general, can be touchy; we’re consciously shifting our focus away from what we “should” look like to how we want to feel. And while we don’t like “dropping pounds” to be the sole emphasis of any of our healthy living programs, it would be unrealistic to ignore the relevance and importance of weight loss advice altogether — it’s still OK to have that goal if it serves you!
Fortunately, there are healthy, joyful activities and endeavors you can partake in that improve your overall well-being, and happen to result in weight loss and maintenance. These tips from Ryan Andrews, MS, MA, RD, RYT, CSCS, principal nutritionist, and adviser for Precision Nutrition will help you not only achieve success but keep it going for the long term.
10 No-Deprivation Weight Loss Tips According to an Expert
#1 Get. Good. Sleep!
Sleep is the foundation of every single health program, regardless of goals. When it comes to weight loss, Andrews says, “Ensuring enough high-quality sleep stacks the odds in our favor of a better mood, better recovery, and better food choices.”
According to Andrews, good sleep starts in the day, from the moment you wake up. “Optimal sleep comes not only from what we do immediately before bed but from what we do all day,” he says.
During the day, he says, exercise, getting some sunlight, having a consistent wake-up time, and avoiding caffeine after noon all contribute to getting better zzz’s. When you’re winding down, Andrews advises you to avoid light exposure (including blue light), cool down your bedroom, avoid heavy meals, do a brain dump (write everything down in a journal — to do’s, feelings, etc.), avoid alcohol, and keep your bedtime consistent. “It’s hard to say for sure how much sleep you’ll need, but 7 to 9 hours per night is a safe range,” says Andrews.
RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Sleep
#2 Hydrate Consistently
“Don’t neglect hydration,” warns Andrews. “Two of the more common symptoms of dehydration are brain fog and fatigue, [and] when I think of conditions that lead to a healthy body weight, I don’t think of brain fog and fatigue.”
If you’ve been feeling sluggish lately and lacking the gusto you need to eat healthy and exercise, consider how much H2O you’ve been getting! “Water is a wonderful beverage to stay hydrated with,” he says. Andrew advises keeping enough water in your body to “avoid the urine color extremes,” he says. “Never too dark or completely clear.”
In terms of non-water ‘hydration’ you’re consuming, he says, “coffee and tea are fine, and probably worth some self-experimentation to see how they influence your sleep.”
Also, consider enjoying water-rich foods like watermelon, cucumber, peaches, oranges, celery, and broth to boost hydration.
#3 Keep Nutrition SIMPLE
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been confused by diet advice! Instead of getting bogged down by the noise of the diet industry and diet culture, Andrews says to keep it simple: “Have minimal standards with your nutrition,” he says.
“There are some common behaviors with eating,” says Andrews. “When practiced regularly, they may allow us to find a healthy and stable body weight.” Ahead, his seven cardinal rules — the minimal standards that work for just about everyone.
- Emphasize minimally processed foods
- Get enough quality protein
- Incorporate lots of vegetables
- Prioritize high nutrient density foods
- Eat slowly until you’re satisfied
- Eat foods you enjoy
- Build trusted food preparation strategies
#4 Work On Your Relationship With Food
One of the most powerful tips regardless of your weight goals (but one that will certainly help with long-term maintenance!) is “developing a level of food respect,” says Andrews. And if you’re interested in learning more about mindful eating, this is one place to start!
You can start by learning more about how your food is grown, he says. From there, you could try “discussing current issues facing farmworkers and farmers, learning about farm animal treatment, exploring the history of the food system, volunteering at a farm, starting a garden, cooking, or volunteering with a food recovery non-profit.” This should create a more mindful, reverent eating experience, and science has shown that mindful eating can help support weight loss efforts.
#5 Get Outside
There’s a link between spending time in the great outdoors and reaching your weight loss goals.
“Time outdoors can help to promote better mental health, sleep, and energy levels,” explains Andrews. “Of course, better mental health, sleep, and energy levels can lead to someone maintaining a healthy body weight.”
Choose your adventure.You might want to go for a walking meditation, get some fresh air with a pet or loved one, forest bathe, play a club sport, do yoga in the park, or try a picnic for some social time and sunshine.
#6 Find “Good Stress,” Eliminate “Bad Stress”
Not all stress is bad stress! In fact, Andrews says that finding “your stress sweet spot” can be one of your keys to long-term weight maintenance… and just a happier life in general! “Too much stress can lead to overwhelm, panic, and anxiety,” he says, but at the same time, “too little stress can lead to lethargy, boredom, and lack of direction.”
“When we can spend most of our time at the sweet spot in between the two stress extremes, it can be quite health-promoting,” says Andrews. “For some, this might be about adding in some intense workouts, taking an intimidating acting class, or spending time in social settings. For others, this might be about spending more time unplugged from tech, meditating, or taking solo outdoor walks.”
#7 Create Your A-Team
Your social interactions play a huge role in your health on a number of levels. Without social support, stress, depression, and fatigue can become big roadblocks in your health journey, says Andrews. It’s imperative to seek out social time for your mental and physical wellbeing. “It can be accomplished in so many ways,” he says, “From connecting with friends in your neighborhood, colleagues at work, far away family on a video chat, meetup groups, sports leagues, volunteering, continuing education classes, and so forth.”
And it’s not just about having that social life, but who is in that social life. Who do you have in your corner? “We are more likely to do, think, and say what the people around us are doing, thinking, and saying,” says Andrews, who emphasizes that the people in our lives are “of utmost importance when considering daily habits that influence our health and weight.”
#8 Move Mindfully and Joyfully
Long-term health and weight maintenance isn’t simply about exercise but rather finding ways to move that you actually enjoy. “Physical activity increases oxygen in the bloodstream, general circulation, metabolic processes, and improves nutrient uptake,” shares Andrews. “It can also help to improve mood, decrease the chances of chronic disease, help to manage stress, improve sleep, and in some cases help us to spend more time outdoors and/or volunteer.”
So yes, we know exercise makes you feel good — but there’s something to be said for exercise you actually like. “Altogether, regular physical activity is a habit worth building for a healthy body weight,” says Andrews, but just “imagine if you looked forward to the physical activity you did — this makes the entire process much more effortless.”
#9 Take Quiet Time Often
Our lives are often busy and noisy, and our minds don’t typically get a chance to pause. Andrews says this could be a hindrance to progress toward your health goals. “Set aside time for reflection and contemplation,” he says. “This is interwoven with several of the other factors above [i.e., taking quiet time outside, eliminating bad stress, etc.] but calling it out specifically is worth doing,” he says. “To ensure a healthy body, it appears to be important to slow things down, observe our thoughts, and spend some time being present.”
Think of this as a cumulative effort. “This isn’t something that will bring immediate enlightenment, but over time, it can help to foster level-headedness, which helps to ensure that our daily choices are better aligned with our deepest values,” says Andrews.
#10 Have Fun
Above all, if you’re doing what you love, you’re living healthfully. “Spending time in enjoyable leisure activities gives us something to look forward to and can be fun,” says Andrews. “Altogether, this can encourage a better mood, and a better overall mood can foster better overall health.”
Find activities that light you up and make you feel good, and do those things often. We don’t make enough room for play in our lives! “Enjoyable leisure activities might be playing cards with family, racquetball with friends, dancing on your own, games with your partner/kids, and so forth.” Remembering to lighten up and enjoy life a little more can connect you to your health goals — many of us want to get healthier to live longer, feel better, and have more fun experiences with people we love. Start having those experiences now!
Whether your goal is weight loss or your fitness and wellness goals have nothing to do with weight at all, these expert-backed tips can be supportive of any wellness journey! Remembering to hydrate, to get restorative sleep, eat and move mindfully while surrounding ourselves with those we love, doing the things we love are all important pieces to living a healthy life!
If you feel like you could work on weaving a handful of these tips into your life, start with one and see how you feel! Then move to the next. Bit by bit, you may see how something you may have never thought was connected to weight loss could actually make a huge difference in your fitness and wellness journey.
And, if you haven’t joined our community yet, sign up for free and get access to unlimited free workouts and meditations, with classes for every fitness level. Want to take things up a notch? Sign up for FitOn PRO and get access to recipes and personalized meal plans, including foods you’ll love to eat.