You’ve heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? If you keep focusing on things you can’t do, like resisting junk food or getting out the door for a daily walk, chances are you won’t do them. Instead (whether you believe it or not) repeat positive thoughts to yourself. “I can lose weight.” “I will get out for my walk today.” “I know I can resist the pastry cart after dinner.” Repeat these phrases and before too long, they will become true for you. Try these other daily mantras that can help you reach your goals.
As you age, it’s especially important not to become complacent about including too many treats in your diet, studies show. People who gained a moderate amount of weight (5 to 22 pounds) before the age of 55 increased their risk of premature death, chronic diseases and decreased the likelihood of achieving healthy aging. And the higher the weight gain, the greater risk of chronic diseases.
“When clients come to me, many of them have been through the diet wringer. They’ve tried every fad and gimmick and, of course, they’ve failed to maintain long-term success. The key to weight loss is to never feel like you’re on a diet, because diets don’t work. If you feel deprived, you will never make it past a few weeks. The only way to achieve long-term weight loss is to learn to appreciate food as fuel and slowly replaced processed food that cannot properly energize the body with real food that can. After a while this will become second nature and won’t feel like a daily struggle.” — Laura Burak, MS, RD, CDN

The notion that abdominal obesity is the most dangerous kind isn't new. Back in the 1940s, the French physician Jean Vague observed that some obese patients had normal blood chemistry, while some moderately overweight patients showed serious abnormalities that predisposed them to heart disease or diabetes. Almost always, the latter patients carried their fat around their middles. And, almost always, they were men.
Positively stay away from fast food. In addition to cooking everything in trans fat, fast food burgers, fries, and shakes (or burritos, mac 'n' cheese, or sandwiches) are whoppers when it comes to salt and sugar. They are essentially empty carbs, with no real nutrients to them. If you're serious about shedding those pounds and getting your weight back on the right path, you'll stay away from fast food.
It’s stunning how often we eat out of boredom, nervousness, habit, or frustration—so often, in fact, that many of us have actually forgotten what physical hunger feels like. If you’re hankering for a specific food, it’s probably a craving, not hunger. If you’d eat anything you could get your hands on, chances are you’re truly hungry. Find ways other than eating to express love, tame stress, and relieve boredom.
A body of research out of Pennsylvania State University finds that eating water-rich foods such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers during meals reduces your overall calorie consumption. Other water-rich foods include soups and salads. You won’t get the same benefits by just drinking your water, though. Because the body processes hunger and thirst through different mechanisms, it simply doesn’t register a sense of fullness with water (or soda, tea, coffee, or juice).
At breakfast, go ahead and drink orange juice. But throughout the rest of the day, focus on water instead of juice or soda. The average American consumes an extra 245 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s nearly 90,000 calories a year—or 25 pounds! And research shows that despite the calories, sugary drinks don’t trigger a sense of fullness the way that food does.

We now know that this type of fat, called visceral fat, is metabolically active and churns out stress hormones like cortisol and inflammatory substances called cytokines that affect you body’s production of insulin. The result is worse than just being generally overweight; you’re looking at increased risks of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and even dementia.
1. Do some detective work. Take some time to identify the most likely culprits of the unwanted weight. Are fried or sugary foods too tough to resist? Is it hard to avoid noshing whenever free food is within arm’s reach? Are you too tired and busy to shop and cook healthy meals? Or do emotions—like boredom, anxiety, nervousness, depression, and joy—send you straight to the fridge?
The options for spin today are growing to be more intense and more entertaining at that, with options like SoulCycle, Flywheel, CYC fitness, and your local gym’s trusty spin class. Locking into a bike will not only skyrocket your fat burn, but the pack mentality may cause you to work harder in an effort to keep up with and surpass your fellow riders. “I definitely would put spinning up there as one of the best fat-burning workouts. First of all, you have that great social scene and music coming together [to boost drive and motivation]. Weight training can sometimes be boring alone, but adding spinning makes things more interesting,” says White. Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Department of Preventive Medicine found that when you work out with others, you’re more likely to enjoy your sweat session. When you enjoy something, you’re more likely to stick to it long-term. It’s a simple concept, but when it comes to losing belly fat it’s particularly important because fat loss is a marathon, not a sprint.
"Protein is great for fat loss. It helps build and preserve lean muscle tissue and can increase the amount of calories you burn. It’s also a great source of energy that helps you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less tempted to snack. Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, eggs, milk and chickpeas. And if you’re finding it difficult to avoid snacks that are high in carbohydrates, try substituting them for protein shakes or bars. Remember also to opt for the lean sources of protein because some sources can be high in saturated fat."
It depends on many factors, including the actual amount of fat/weight you want to lose. Whatever the case, fast weight loss is usually not a good idea; the tendency to gain weight back that has been quickly lost is common, and usually more weight is gained back than was lost in the first place. A constant see-saw of weight levels may be more harmful than the weight itself. Our bodies are wonderful, even if we don't believe it sometimes, and they have a way of knowing when we are trying to 'fool' them. If we lose too much weight and lose it too quickly, the body reacts by interfering with the weight loss; it becomes harder and harder to lose, and that becomes frustrating. Think about your body as a machine that is at the pinnacle of evolution; it has an ancestry that goes all the way back to the origins of human life, however you imagine that to have come about. Things are built into your body and its systems to counteract stresses and changes that we can't imagine today. That's why we can't just 'have our way with our bodies' without regard for how they react to things. They have a built-in wisdom that is hard to challenge without thought and great care. But with patience, clear thinking and good guidance, we can bring our bodies closer to optimum health.
“When clients come to me, many of them have been through the diet wringer. They’ve tried every fad and gimmick and, of course, they’ve failed to maintain long-term success. The key to weight loss is to never feel like you’re on a diet, because diets don’t work. If you feel deprived, you will never make it past a few weeks. The only way to achieve long-term weight loss is to learn to appreciate food as fuel and slowly replaced processed food that cannot properly energize the body with real food that can. After a while this will become second nature and won’t feel like a daily struggle.” — Laura Burak, MS, RD, CDN
As you get older, your body changes how it gains and loses weight. Both men and women experience a declining metabolic rate, or the number of calories the body needs to function normally. On top of that, women have to deal with menopause. "If women gain weight after menopause, it's more likely to be in their bellies," says Michael Jensen, MD, professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic's endocrinology division. In menopause, production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone slows down. Meanwhile, testosterone levels also start to drop, but at a slower rate. This shift in hormones causes women to hold onto weight in their bellies. The good news: you can fight this process. Read on.
Choose Liquid Calories Wisely. Sweetened drinks pile on the calories, but don't reduce hunger like solid foods do. Satisfy your thirst with water, sparkling water with citrus, skim or low-fat milk, or small portions of 100% fruit juice. Try a glass of nutritious and low-calorie vegetable juice to hold you over if you get hungry between meals. Be careful of alcohol calories, which add up quickly. If you tend to drink a glass or two of wine or a cocktail on most days, limiting alcohol to the weekends can be a huge calorie saver.
High-intensity interval training is high on every trainer’s list, and for good reason. “My No.1 pick for fat loss would be high-intensity interval training, just because you’re burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time. You’re getting more bang for your buck. I know a lot of guys that don’t have all day to work out in a gym, so when it comes to belly fat you have to focus on calorie burn and intense workouts,” says Jim White, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach. Think bootcamps, tabata, and series of burpees, box jumps, and sprints—those all do the trick. The best thing about HIIT is that it keeps your body working long after you leave the gym, burning calories and fat on your off hours via a phenomenon called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, aka EPOC.

As my colleagues have reported (here and here), when it comes down to it, it’s not the body or the metabolism that are actually creating overweight or obesity – it’s the brain. We all know intuitively that poor decisions are what make you gain weight and better ones are what make you lose it. The problem is that over time, the poor decisions lead to significant changes in how the brain governs – and, amazingly, responds to – the hunger and satiation processes. Years of any kind of behavior pattern lay down neural tracks, and overeating is no exception.

“Accept that calories count.” Hensrud says. “This is basic, but there are many fads out there that say they don’t.” By the numbers, one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. So in order to lose a pound per week, you’d have to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories a day. This doesn’t mean that you need to count every morsel that goes into your mouth (though if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free).


I preach the same stuff on nutrition and weight training. Thanks for keeping it real. I am currently dieting at 2000 calories per day. Full body three times a week is slamming me hard. I do about 12 exercises per workout. What would be the best split to start with. I am still getting stronger every workout like crazy. I am not a beginner. My sleep is starting to suffer. I feel over trained. My workouts typically take about 1.5 hours per workout three times a week.

Positively stay away from fast food. In addition to cooking everything in trans fat, fast food burgers, fries, and shakes (or burritos, mac 'n' cheese, or sandwiches) are whoppers when it comes to salt and sugar. They are essentially empty carbs, with no real nutrients to them. If you're serious about shedding those pounds and getting your weight back on the right path, you'll stay away from fast food.

Putting aside time on Sundays to prep for the week ahead will not only save you countless dollars in last-minute takeout meals, but it will also save you a tremendous amount of excess calories in the long run. When we make decisions based on emotions and convenience we often find ourselves tied to less-healthy fare. White suggests getting in the kitchen, throwing on some good music, and preparing your meals for the days ahead. This way you can control ingredients, portions, and also free up time during the week to tend to your usual obligations. If you stick with it in the long-term, this will translate to less overall body fat as a result.
that lists sugar, fructose, or corn syrup among the first four ingredients on the label. You should be able to find a lower-sugar version of the same type of food. If you can’t, grab a piece of fruit instead! Look for sugar-free varieties of foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressing. Also, avoid partially hydrogenated foods, and look for more than two grams of fiber per 100 calories in all grain products. Finally, a short ingredient list means fewer flavor enhancers and empty calories.

“To lose weight you should primarily eat whole foods, but don’t eliminate your favorites. Consistently eating nutrient-dense food on a day-to-day basis will improve the chances of upregulating metabolism and of eliminating nutritional deficiencies. That may mean tracking what you eat in some way at first, but it doesn’t mean ruling out entire food groups or foods you love. Consistent quality nutrition while learning to enjoy treats in moderation will set you up for long-term sustainable success. — Victoria Viola, PN Certified Nutrition Coach, NSCA CPT, Co-Founder, Excelerate Wellness, LLC


Pinterest and Instagram are both filled with gorgeous photos of decadent desserts and ooey-gooey macaroni and cheese recipes, and while it may be fun to dream about eating them, they may be wrecking your diet. Research from the University of Southern California says that viewing images of high-calorie foods sparks more activity in the reward areas of the brain than photos of low-calorie fare—which means you'll be more tempted to indulge in high-fat fare next time you're hungry.
Do cross-training. Cross-training involves a range of different strength, endurance, and aerobic exercises that will work out many different parts of your body while generally keeping you from getting bored (which is a huge reason why people stop exercising). Cross-training regimes like Crossfit may not be the best at burning a lot of calories very quickly (they're better at replacing fat with lean muscle), but it's worth trying out. Who knows, you could find a new inspiration!

Talk about a catch-22: Doing something healthy, like eating a low-cal meal, can make you less likely to exercise and more likely to gorge yourself with food later on. This is because of a phenomenon scientists call licensing, which happens when we feel that we've earned the right to be self-indulgent. Most people have a tendency to want to balance things out, says Kathleen Vohs, PhD, an associate professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. So when we do one thing that's good for our health, which often requires exerting plenty of discipline and self-control, we like to follow it up with something that lets us indulge ourselves.
No. That's an urban myth if anything. Note also that attempting to reduce fat in just one part of yourbody at a time is likely to be disappointing. Fat reduction works like this: When you try to lose fat, thereduction occurs all throughout your body. Unlike muscle-building,it cannot be specifically targeted to one region. Also, thereduction in fat will not be quickly apparent because it will notbe focused on only one spot on your body. So it's helpful to have a"slowly but surely" attitude. Note that exercises mostly serve to tone the muscle underneath thefat. But if you want to slim down, the fat has to be burned off.For that, the main thing is to ditch the junk food and thesweetened drinks. Exercise alone might not be sufficient. Here's a program for the period in which you want to loseweight: Plenty of moderate aerobic exercise, no sweetened liquids at all,and no junk food at all. Preferably no sugar, and as little addedsalt and processed foods as possible. Eat 3 small-portionedmeals/day; do not skip breakfast; and avoid snacks. Limit yourcalories (better to consult a doctor or nutritionist concerning theamount), and weigh yourself 2-3 times/week. Ignore the sensation ofhunger. If you see your weight diminishing at a safe, reasonablerate (1-2 pounds/week), keep it up. Once you've reached your target weight, increase your calorieintake somewhat. And you can then have small amounts of sweetenedfoods or junk food on occasion (if at all), along with your regularfoods (not instead of them). But keep checking your weight 2-3times/week. Avoid crash diets, diet pills etc. Avoid fatty cuts of meat. Walkas much as possible. Bicycling and swimming are good too. More guidelines: Don't concentrate on specific foods so much as on a balanced,healthy diet plus exercise. Plenty of moderate exercise rather thanintense exercise, which can damage your joints. Good nutrition means eating what your body needs, while ingestingas few harmful things as possible. It has also been described asgetting enough of each of the major food categories (grains,fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, etc.; plus plenty of water). This will vary somewhat from one person to another; and I don'tbelieve that there's any universal diet that can be prescribed foreveryone. Avoid best-sellers with their perennial fad diets. Andthink twice before using any dietary supplements or weight-losspills. In general, one's starting point can be a menu of whole grains,whole-wheat bread, a good amount of vegetables, some fruits andnuts, fish, lean meats (in not-large amounts), and some dairy.However, this must be tweaked according to one's health, weight andother factors at the outset; and also adjusted over time, as onesees what works for him/her in particular.

“I tell all of my celebrity and professional-athlete clients to get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Everyone is overly focused on food, water and exercise, all of which are extremely imperative to weight loss and optimal health. However, without proper sleep, all of these the other factors are null and void. When you don’t get enough sleep, levels of the hormone leptin drop, which increases appetite. This surge in appetite makes comfort food more appealing, which can derail weight loss efforts.” — Jay Cardiello, celebrity fitness and nutrition expert
Repeat after us: It’s time to start eating clean. She recommends a combination of veggies, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, low-fat dairy and lean protein like poultry, eggs and fish for a dose of omega-3 fatty acids. And drop the added sugar while you’re at it. “Studies show that when you have a diet rich in whole grains — and calorie-controlled — that you can reduce the belly fat,” she says. But remember to watch your portions, too. “A lot of people eat very healthy and don’t eat junk, but their portions are too large.”
Eating dessert every day can be good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it. Make a spoonful of ice cream the jewel and a bowl of fruit the crown. Cut down on the chips by pairing each bite with lots of chunky, filling fresh salsa, suggests Jeff Novick, director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Florida. Balance a little cheese with a lot of fruit or salad.
It's a one-time investment you'll never regret. Here's why: Strength training builds lean muscle tissue, which burns more calories — at work or at rest — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The more lean muscle you have, the faster you'll slim down. How do you start strength training? Try some push-ups or a few squats or lunges. Use your free weights to perform simple bicep curls or tricep pulls right in your home or office. Do these exercises three to four times per week, and you'll soon see a rapid improvement in your physique.
One of the very first cardio exercises to reduce belly fat is walking. Surprised? Do you think it’s too simple to be effective? Well, then you should know that walking is a great and effective way to burn away that ugly belly fat. In fact, it is an excellent fat burner for your entire body. If you follow a healthy diet along with walking at a steady pace for 30-45 minutes for at least four to five days every week, you will witness a gradual decrease in your weight.
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