Most of us already know that being overweight or obese puts us at risk for a litany of really bad health effects. But when it comes to losing weight, the typical temptation -- and motivation -- is to think on a grand scale and try to drop pounds in a flash. And when we don’t see immediate, substantial results, many of us backslide out of frustration.

Unfortunately for impatient people (myself included), weight loss is one area where good things truly do come to those who wait: To achieve lasting results, you need to make small, sustainable changes and give yourself the time to see your efforts pay off. After all, you're in it to win the game, not the moment. And here's how you'll get there: 

Good: Make Smart Choices

It sounds trite, but really thinking about what you’re buying, rather than mindlessly tossing stuff in your cart, can make a huge impact on your nutrition and waistline. Often, the first step to major weight loss is learning about and acknowledging what you’ve been putting in your body. “Try to make good choices in your diet overall by avoiding soda, highly processed foods and excess sweets,” says upwave reviewer David Katz, MD, MPH, the author of Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well.

Katz also suggests following commonly heard (but seldom-followed) advice such as drinking more water and shopping the periphery of the grocery store, which tends to be where the healthiest, least-processed foods are located. Making small changes like these is easier to do than you might think, and it'll go a long way towards helping you achieve your long-term weight-loss goals. 

Take the Challenge! Drink More Water

Better: Trade Up

It's no secret that much of what's sold in grocery stores is unnecessarily high in fat, preservatives and calories. But did you know that making a few simple swaps can help you trim down? You won't even have to change what you're eating. “If you learn how to 'trade up' your choices, you can fill up on fewer calories,” says Katz. “If you can fill up on fewer calories, you can be thinner and stay leaner without being hungry.”

Katz's act of “trading up” is surprisingly simple and can be accomplished with virtually any food -- just by reading labels. The next time you pick up your favorite pasta sauce/bread/chip/cookie, compare its nutritional content to that of other versions. You’ll probably find that at least one of your shopping-cart staples is higher in undesirable stuff (like added sugar and trans fats) than another, similarly priced item. By switching to the more nutritious choice, you’ll instantly save calories, reduce unhealthy add-ons and pack your new menu with added fiber, vitamins and minerals -- all while enjoying the same meals you’ve always loved.

See: 4 "Healthy" Foods To Avoid

Best: Limit The Number Of Ingredients You Consume

Natural foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains have been around forever, and served everyone just fine until the relatively recent explosion of the packaged-food industry. Now, added sugars and solid fats form roughly 35 percent of the average person’s daily diet -- and, when paired with a sedentary lifestyle, play a large role in the current obesity epidemic. More and more people are recognizing the negative effects of eating processed, fatty foods and are choosing to consume those that have fewer ingredients. “Eat foods direct from nature with as little as possible added to them,” Katz advises. “If a big part of your diet is made of foods with one ingredient, you’re firing on all cylinders.” 

Nature, in one form or another, supplies us with everything we need in order to grow and thrive. If you're eating a cracker that has an ingredient list that stretches down the side of the box, chances are it's not good for you, regardless of how many calories it does (or doesn't) contain. So stock your shopping cart with a variety of fruits, veggies (frozen or fresh), lean meats and whole grains. Your body will reap the benefits!

Best It! Eat More Vegetables


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