Watch: Keep Your Healthy Weight-Loss Habits

Simple tips and tricks to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Losing weight can seem like a daunting task, so it's important to break it down into manageable steps. From how to get started and stay motivated to simple food choices that make a difference, this get-slim guide offers 25 easy steps to help you meet your weight loss goals.

1. Define Your Goal

Want to lose 1 pound a week, do this math problem:
[Your weight x 12]– 500 = Your daily calorie goal

To lose up to 2 pounds per week, subtract 1,000 instead of 500.
Don't go below 1,200 calories total.

2. Use Little Plates

Studies show that we eat less from smaller dinnerware.

3. Set A Date

Your class reunion, your niece's wedding, that midwinter beach vacation: setting a goal that's very specific ("I want to lose 8 pounds"), with a defined timeline ("in 3 months"), increases the likelihood you'll actually meet it.

4. Make Your Dinner Plate Look Like This

1/2 colorful mix of vegetables
1/4 whole grains
1/4 source of lean protein

5. Memorize This Handy Guide to Help You Estimate Portions

1 tsp. = tip of your thumb (to the middle joint)
1 Tbsp. = your whole thumb
1 cup = your fist
3 ounces meat = palm of your hand

6. Breakfast Like a Champ

Research shows dieters are more successful at losing weight-and keeping it off-when they eat breakfast, and repeating the same meals can help you shed pounds, says a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nutrition editor fave: a whole-wheat English muffin topped with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 1/2 banana, sliced (278 calories).

7. Eat Soup

In one study, published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, people consumed the fewest calories on days when they ate soup. Broth-based ones packed with veggies give you the biggest bang for your caloric buck.

8. Pack Your Snacks with Protein and Fiber

Both protein and fiber are especially satisfying. Think: carrots and hummus, nonfat cottage cheese and orange slices, an apple with almond butter.

9. Ditch the Top Slice of Bread

Opting for your sandwich open-face instantly erases 100 calories.

10. Savor a Small Treat Each Day

Savor a small treat each day-it won't break your diet, says new research in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Under-150-calorie snacks: 16 oz. skim latte, two squares of dark chocolate, ½ cup (non-premium) ice cream.

11. Count Calories

Writing down everything you eat helps you shed pounds. A paper and pen work fine-but weight-loss tracking websites and smartphone apps make looking up calories easy, eliminate the math and offer bonus features like menu planners, healthy recipes and community support groups. Which method is best for you? If you don't love it, try another site or app-most are free!

12. Post a Picture

Post a pic of whatever motivates you to stick with your goal (it works, science shows). Consider a photo of you looking your healthiest, a personal role model, your children. Hang it on your fridge. Make it the wallpaper on your computer or cell phone.

13. Get 8 Hours of Sleep

Skimping on shut-eye can pack on pounds, possibly by altering hunger hormones, research shows.

14. Use a Big Fork

(Bigger bites led to eating less in a University of Utah study) … and hold it in your nondominant hand (eating more slowly also helps you consume fewer calories).

15. Pick a Prize

When you reach a goal, treat yourself to something special: a pair of designer jeans, a pedicure, a massage. Rewards really do work.

16. Lunch on Portion-Controlled Foods

In a Cornell study, having a 200-calorie packaged lunch (e.g., nutrition bar) helped people shave 250 calories from their daily calorie tally-and they still felt satisfied.

17. Weigh Yourself and Log Your Progress

The age-old advice to step on the scale at least once a week boosts pound-shedding success.

18. Exercise

Spend 30 minutes a day running, swimming or biking. This will torch about 250 calories a day–which equates to burning an extra 1/2 pound per week.

19. Make a Bet

You create a goal, set the stakes and assign a friend to keep you accountable at stickK.com. Fail to meet your goal and the site pays a charity from your credit card (if you enter one... money is optional, but placing a wager may more than double your rate of success, say the Yale researchers who launched the site).

20. Gulp Water

People who downed two cups of water before meals lost more weight than those who didn't in one 2010 study.

21. Bounce Back After A Slip Up

After a slip-up repeat this mantra: Back on track, stat." That whole "I'll start again on Monday" mind-set really packs on pounds.

22. Have Some Yogurt

Of all foods, it's the most closely linked with weight loss according to a recent Harvard study.

23. Move More

Incidental exercise significantly increases overall calorie burn.

24. Slim Down with EatingWell's 28-Day Diet Challenge

Want to lose weight and feel great? Go to eatingwell.com/community/diet_challenge for daily tips to help you lose weight during our 28-day Diet Challenge.

25. Make a Plan

1,500 calories a day is easy and delicious when you follow this plan. Check out the 5-Day 1500-Calorie Diet Meal Plan to get going today! Plus, don't miss: What Does a 1,500 Calorie Diet Look Like?

Advertisement