With the warm weather setting in, many folks are starting to acknowledge the few (or more) pounds they put on during those winter months. Second, to New Year's Day, spring is the time when many people make a commitment to lose weight. I asked top nutrition experts from around the country to give their top weight-loss tips to help folks get back into the healthy swing of things. Here's what they said:
1. Reflect on why you are losing weight.
"Good reasons why you want to lose weight include having more energy and maximizing overall health. I have yet to have a person be successful in long-term weight loss for just a number on the scale. It must be a deeper, more meaningful reason."
2. Create realistic goals.
"Before crafting your goals, look at where you are in terms of your eating habits. With summer around the corner, it can be tempting to create super lofty goals and just focus on the big picture, which can be daunting and wind up sapping motivation. Instead, build in challenging-yet-doable food goals from your starting point. Be sure to revisit and revise these goals as you move forward. If you have smaller goals that push you out of your comfort zone little by little, they'll add up to major results by the time summer arrives."
3. Spring clean your pantry.
"As you do your spring cleaning, take advantage of the moment and clean up your pantry and kitchen from top to bottom. Make sure you place highly nutritious foods in the front, less nutritious foods in the back and discard any unwanted temptations."
4. Leave fruit on the counter.
"Clear all the food off of your counters except for a fruit bowl. A study out of Cornell University found that people who keep fruit outweigh 13 pounds less than those without visible healthy snacks. Interestingly, those who left cereal on the counter weighed an average of 20 pounds more than those who stashed it in the cupboard. It's hard to rely solely on willpower, especially when you get home from work at the end of a long day, so make it easier on yourself by taking willpower out of the equation."
5. Get plenty of sleep.
"People who sleep less than seven hours per night tend to weigh more. The National Institutes of Health confirms that sleep deprivation leads to obesity and chronic disease. This takes some planning, but, in the end, it pays off with pounds off."
6. Keep track of what you eat (and drink).
"Don't underestimate the power of a food log – it can be tedious, but it really does help. Research shows that people who record their food intake lose twice as much weight as those who don't keep track of their food. Whether you're writing it down, sharing it with a friend, talking to a nutritionist or using a food journal app, tracking what you eat can help keep you in check. It will also make you more aware of your choices and will usually cause you to think twice before making an unhealthy decision. Most people will cut down their calories and be smarter about what they eat when they see it in writing. Dropping pounds will usually follow."
7. Fill up on veggies.
"My best spring weight-loss tip is to eat more vegetables. I know this sounds trite, but after looking at hundreds of food journals every year from my clients, the one food group that is missing is the vegetable one! As long as they are not fried or swimming in oil and fat, they are very low in calories, provide great phytonutrients (the colors of the plants are loaded with health benefits) and contain lots of fiber."
8. Eat fresh.
"Visit your local farmers market to get the latest bounty of fresh produce. Benefits include cooking at home more often, which will save you money, provide health benefits and trim your waistline. You can search for your local farmers market here."
9. Make exercise a family affair.
"Now that the sunny side of the equinox has arrived and it's daylight savings time, take advantage of the long days and go for a walk after dinner. Grab the kids and make it a family affair. Lifestyle activity like walking boosts metabolism helps control weight and makes you feel happy."