With a master’s degree in nutrition, focused in weight management, I know what you need to do to lose weight: Pay
attention to portions. Plan healthy meals and snacks. Write down what you eat. Exercise.
Effective, yes. But also
booooooring. I’ll admit it. So why not just do the latest diet fad, the one that promises faster weight loss with less
effort? Answer: The pounds will come creeping right back. The better solution is to embrace those arguably “tedious” diet
rules and make them more fun and inspiring—and with cool, new tools. (Find oodles of
weight-loss tools and techniques here.)
Here’s what I mean:
Diet rule #1: Set goals.
We know that if you really want to get thinner, you need to set goals
that are specific, measurable and realistic. How much will you lose? By when? (Don’t forget the realistic part! Your answer
should not be 20 pounds by next week.) Weigh yourself and calculate your body mass index (BMI), an estimate of percent body
fat calculated from height and weight. Click
here for our BMI Calculator and 5 more essential weight-loss tools.
Next, calculate your daily calorie goal by
multiplying your current weight by 12; subtract 500 calories from your result to lose 1 pound per week. For healthy weight
loss, we don’t advise losing more than two pounds per week. If you calculate a daily calorie goal that’s less than 1,200, set
your calorie goal at 1,200 calories. Below that, it’s hard to meet your nutrient needs—or feel satisfied enough to stick with
Cool tools:The Biggest Loser Cal-Max Electronic Scale ($29.99, amazon.com,
target.com) calculates BMI and a “maintenance” calorie intake level. Tanita’s Fitscan Body Composition Monitor
($67.95, tanita.com) calculates the number of calories needed to maintain your current body weight; it also computes your
body composition: fat versus lean mass.
Diet rule #2: Plan your meals. If you don’t want life to get in the way of your good-eating
intentions, you have to anticipate and outsmart obstacles: namely, high-cal fatty foods that seem to be lurking around every
corner. One way to do this is to plan what you eat in advance.
Log into EatingWell’s Interactive Menu Planner
to drag and drop your
favorite recipes, plus healthy snacks, into a weekly grid that calculates calories (and other nutrients, including saturated
fat, fiber and sodium!) and creates a shopping list. The SnackApp
) for the iPhone
offers hundreds of ideas for snacks that are 50, 100 and 200 calories. Search by your craving (e.g., salty, sweet, crunchy) or
pick the Surprise Me! option.
Diet rule #3: Keep track. Studies show that people who keep food diaries tend to lose more
weight and keep it off longer than those who don’t.
Cool tools: Track your intake with an app or online site. The free Lose It! iPhone
app (or its new Web-based platform, loseit.com) remembers foods you’ve entered so it’s easy to find what you’ve
enjoyed before and apply it to a new day. Tweetwhatyoueat.com (also free) lets you set up a Twitter-based food diary
and track your weight and caloric intake. Foodpics Log ($2.99, foodpicslog.com) uses your smartphone’s camera to capture what
you really eat—in a nicely organized daily format—and allows you to add notes for each meal and snack.
Diet rule #4: Keep an eye on size.
In the world of football-sized burritos and snack packs
that serve six, you constantly need to ask yourself: Is that portion actually one serving? (Looking
for full-meal deals that you know are 500 calories? We’ve got ’em!
Cool tools:Slimware melamine dinnerware ($36.50 for 4 plates, slimware.com) helps
remind you of recommended portion sizes with correspondingly sized “food placement areas” (think: flower or swirl) for
protein, a whole grain or other carb and vegetables. Use a souped-up kitchen scale, like Escali’s Cesto Portable
Nutrition Tracker ($79.99, escali.com), to find out precisely how many calories are in your serving. Put your snack on
the scale and, pulling from its database of common foods, the Cesto calculates its calories.
Diet rule #5: Move more. Exercise makes weight loss easier—but more important, people who move
more are more likely to keep the pounds off. Aim to burn at least 1,000 calories/week through exercise.
Cool tools: Download the app for MapMyFitness.com or RunKeeper.com—which,
despite its name, isn’t limited to running—and take your phone for a run or a ride or a hike. Using the GPS in your phone,
these apps calculate how many calories you burned (not to mention your pace, elevation and more). Don’t want to exercise with
your phone? Use these products’ free online sites.
Diet rule #6: Get support. Study after study shows that teaming up to lose weight is more
effective than going it alone. Supportive friends and family members not only can encourage you, they also keep you
Take part in EatingWell’s Diet
, where you can connect with fellow dieters as you all follow the EatingWell Diet. If you’re looking for
social support along with individualized feedback from a trained weight-loss expert, check out Vtrim.org
, an online
weight-loss program developed at the University of Vermont by Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino, co-author of The EatingWell
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