Write what you ate (including seasonings, garnishes, and sauces,) and how much of it you had. Record the time, the place, the company you kept, and how you were feeling at the time. You also might want to include if you were engaging in any activity, like working at your desk while you had lunch. This is a great way to see where your main concerns lie. You might be snacking too much in mid-afternoon, or running for fast food when on a time crunch at work. Though it might seem tempting to skip this step, especially if you think you can already identify your bad habits, try it out anyway. Putting down every detail will most likely illuminate areas ready for improvement you didn't know existed.
There is a substantial market for products which claim to make weight loss easier, quicker, cheaper, more reliable, or less painful. These include books, DVDs, CDs, cremes, lotions, pills, rings and earrings, body wraps, body belts and other materials, fitness centers, clinics, personal coaches, weight loss groups, and food products and supplements.
Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you're stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen," explains Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what's a frazzled girl to do? "Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it's listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily," advises Talbott.
Green tea isn't known only for its cancer-fighting benefits: It may help boost your metabolism, too. People who took green-tea extract three times a day saw their metabolic rate increase by about 4 percent, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (Translation: You could burn an extra 60 calories a day, which equals about six pounds a year!) It may be because green tea contains catechins, which increase levels of the metabolism-speeding brain chemical norepinephrine, says Joy Bauer, a New York City nutritionist and author of Cooking with Joy.
If you're still feeling confused about how to manage your portions and how much of which types of food you should eat, a nutritionist can help. A nutritionist will give you information specific to your body and your dietary needs. Nutritionists are also great for telling you what foods you should absolutely cut out all together and where you might have room to cheat a little for favorites once in a while. They can also direct you on moderation. Dark chocolate and red wine, for example, have health benefits when consumed in moderation, even though chocolate and alcohol in general aren't very conducive to dieting. If you spike your blood sugar then when it crashes you will once again be hungry quickly. This is one of the reasons many nutritionists recommend low glycemic index diets with limited carbohydrate consumption.
Aside from being one viable method for facilitating weight loss, calorie counting has other somewhat less quantifiable advantages including helping to increase nutritional awareness. Many people are completely unaware of, or grossly underestimate their daily caloric intake. Counting calories can help raise an awareness of different types of foods, the number of calories they contain, and how these calories have a different effect on a person's feelings of satiety. Once a person has a better understanding of how many calories are actually in that bag of chips that they can so easily inhale within minutes, how much of their daily caloric intake it consumes, and how little the chips do to satiate their hunger, portion control and avoidance of foods with empty calories tends to become easier.
The size of your plates and bowls may also have a lot to do with portion control. If you have large dinner plates, the temptation is there to fill them up. Try dining from a side plate instead, and eat slowly so your body has a chance to register that you're no longer hungry. Measuring cups are also useful. If you want a snack, allow yourself half a cup. Measure it into a bowl and don't refill. It's a lot easier to manage portions when you measure them.
Do you really need to lose weight? We weren't all born to be thin or conform to society's definition of the ideal body. Your body size and shape depend on multiple factors, including your genes, eating patterns, Resting Energy Expenditure (see definition below) and exercise. You may want to accept and Love Your Body while trying to improve your health.
Fitness-focused exercise also improves your strength and endurance, which makes activities of all kinds easier, and thus encourages you to be more active overall. And, since regular exercise also improves your energy level, confidence, emotional outlook, and self-esteem, it can help you get through weight-loss plateaus, when you’re not seeing the inches melt off as quickly as you’d like.
Real talk: It could take weeks or months to see the metabolic effects of exercise on the scale, and even then, building muscle, which is denser than body fat, could lead to weight gain. “Do what you like because it’s good for you,” Dr. Seltzer says, noting the way exercise is awesome for your heart, mental health, and more—and that not all measure of progress can be seen on the scale.