Losing weight seems like it is all about the food. And food definitely is the most important aspect of weight loss. After all, you can’t lose weight unless you cut back on how many calories you eat.
But there's more to successful weight loss than simply eating less. You can develop behaviors—ones that will help you lose weight more quickly and keep the weight off longer—that have nothing to do with food.
Here are 10 of my favorites.
Get Enough Sleep
Studies have shown that getting enough sleep is important in weight management. Keep track of your sleep habits and note when you're extra-tired. If you have trouble keeping your food intake under control on those days, you know you need more sleep.
Pick a Goal Outfit
Find an outfit that you'd like to wear once you lose weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose, choose one that is just a couple of sizes down from where you are now so you don’t get discouraged at the thought of going from a size 28 all the way down to a size 14.
Put your goal outfit where you can see it, and use it as a motivator to make good food choices. I hung my goal outfit right in the middle of my closet so I’d see it every time I reached in to get something to wear.
Join a Support Group
A good support group, either online or in person, can really help you stick to your diet. Go to meetings regularly or check in online at least once a day.
Have a Grocery-Shopping Schedule
It’s tempting to head to the grocery store every day or a few times a week to pick up something you want or forgot. But the grocery store is full of tempting foods. I found that shopping once a week for all the food I needed for healthy meals helped me in meal-planning and calorie-control.
Keep Your Hands Busy
It’s almost impossible to be busy with your hands and eat at the same time—at least it is for me. Find activities to keep your hands busy such as gardening, playing games with your kids, crafting, gaming, or writing in your journal.
Exercise Five Days a Week
Commit to exercising in some fashion five days a week. You can walk, lift weights, run, or to go the gym—it really doesn’t matter. Just commit to some kind of regular exercise program for your physical and mental health.
Get Rid of Too-Big Clothes
This is a hard non-food behavior for some people, but it’s vital. As you lose weight, give away or sell your too-big clothes. Keeping them around serves no purpose other than to give you a “fall back” wardrobe should you regain weight. As a caveat, you can keep one or two of your biggest clothing items as a comparison as you lose weight. but get rid of the rest.
Wake Up Early
Get out of bed and get going with your day. Sleeping as late as possible often puts you in a rushed state, and when you're rushed, you might be less diligent about your food choices. Ease yourself into getting up earlier by setting your alarm clock 5 minutes earlier each day until you're at your ideal wake-up time.
I find spending time with my own thoughts to be helpful when trying to accomplish a goal. Try meditating, praying, journaling, or visualizing how you want your weight loss journey to go. Imagine yourself at your goal weight and mentally go through the steps you will need to get there.
Find Fun Without Focusing on Food
Our culture often links food and fun. State fairs, football games, weddings, family reunions, and almost every other fun event or celebration has food as a major focus. Learn to have fun times without focusing on food. When you're at a celebration, make a conscious effort to enjoy the event, engage with other people, and lessen the amount of time you spend around the food.