As summer creeps its way ever onwards each year, we tend to have a quick glance under our winter sweaters and realize that if we want to enjoy the summer sun without feeling the urge to cover up, we’re going to need to get in shape pronto.

Here are 10 things you should choose when planning your next weight loss diet…

1) Start Small

There is overwhelming proof that yo-yo diets don’t work over the long haul.

It’s simply too tough to “be good” forever, and many of these diets offer such soul crushing restrictions that the average person can’t even make it a month without going completely crazy and diving for a large tub of ice cream.

What do you do if you want to lose weight and diets don’t work?

Essentially, you need a sensible, sustained weight loss plan.

Make small changes you can keep up over a lifetime. Instead of choosing an 800-calorie starvation diet that will work only as long as you’re on the diet, opt instead to swap out chips for healthier snacks you also enjoy, and make generally healthier meals on a regular basis.

Even swapping out one junk meal for a healthy one each day can make a huge difference in how you look and feel.

Don’t underestimate the power of small beginnings. They can help you form a solid foundation and lead to outstanding end results in time.

2) Have a Worthwhile Exercise Plan and Stick To It

In order to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you use. It really is that simple.

Part of this equation involves eating fewer calories. The other part has to come from exercise.

Even if you change nothing about your diet and simply take more walks, the added exercise may be enough to tip the scales in your favor.

Plan on chucking in at least 30 minutes of exercise to your day, but don’t feel bad if you can’t get it in all in one shot.

You can add minutes to your exercise plan in small snatches throughout the day by choosing to park in the back of the parking lot, electing to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and walking during your lunch break.

By adding just a few more steps at a time, you can get in that all-important extra activity and turbo-charge your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

3) Restrict Calories Not Nutrition

So many diets out there tell you to restrict a specific food group in order to lose weight.

While some of these may work in the short term, most of them are simply robbing your body of the nutrition it needs.

Instead of cutting out fats, carbs, or protein, simply try to restrict your calories by 100-200 calories overall…

This small amount won’t be enough to make you feel starved, nor will it trigger your body to start hoarding calories like they’re going out of style. What it will do is help you shed weight slowly and in a sustainable manner.

4) Consider Going Hi-Tech

Not sure how much exercise you’ve already gotten rushing around on a busy day at work?

Do you need reminders for healthy meal plans or a way to check in so you feel more accomplished?

There are a variety of hi-tech solutions geared toward helping you lose weight. Gadgets like Fitbits and other exercise trackers can monitor how much exercise you are taking, and even tell you if you’re getting enough sleep. It’s well worth considering adding one of these devices to your arsenal to set you up nicely for any weight loss diet.

Being able to watch your steps climb on up during the course of the day may be enough to encourage you to walk just a little bit more or help you think twice about scarfing down the donuts someone brought in to the office.

5) Join a Support Group

Surrounding yourself with supportive people who understand what you are going through can make losing weight easier.

It can also help you benefit from other people who want to help you by sharing their ideas. Often, they’ll impart tips and tricks you might never have thought of yourself.

A support group can go a long way to helping you get fit, and may also help keep you honest due to the level of accountability involved.

6) Keep A Food Journal

Often, extra calories creep up on us because we simply don’t remember eating them…

Perhaps there was a bag of chips on your desk, and you mindlessly munched the whole thing while you were busy answering emails. This kind of eating can occur more easily than you might think but don’t beat yourself up about it. Take action instead…

Since these extra calories can really add up and lead to confusion when you step on the scales, it’s worth trying to keep a record of what you eat. A food journal helps you to become mindful of what you put in our mouth, and can help reduce those sneaky snacks you manage to gobble down without really thinking.

7) Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes

Many diets end rather dramatically when you can no longer endure the calorie restrictions and go crazy over hamburgers and French fries.

After a huge binge meal…well the diet is over. Isn’t it? You failed!

The truth is, everyone has a bad day. You shouldn’t let that hamper your attempt to achieve a meaningful lifestyle change, though.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, chalk it down to experience and simply try harder starting with the very next meal.

8) Eat What You Love

If you can’t stand fish, going on the Mediterranean diet just means you’ll be miserable for the short time you can tolerate it.

The best diets include food you already enjoy. This way, you won’t end up dreading mealtime, a surefire way to lose interest and start piling on those pounds again.

Work with yourself and with what works for you rather than seeking a generic solution that doesn’t exist.

9) Smaller Portions

This one probably comes as no surprise, but smaller portion sizes make a big impact on your lifestyle, and cutting back allows you to enjoy all your favorite treats without going overboard.

With smaller platefuls, you can still have ice cream if you want to, just in a smaller, more controlled dose.

Also, when we buy packaged food, we aren’t getting one portion but many. It’s tempting to eat an entire potato chip bag thinking that represents a serving, when in reality a serving is actually only a small fraction of a larger bag.

Remain portion-aware and don’t eat more than you need to.

10) Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand

While most of us would rather have potato chips than carrots, when it comes down to snacking we tend to eat whatever is close by.

Simply keeping a bowl of fruit or vegetable tray out on the side for free-form snacking can help us to naturally eat healthier options instead of reaching for that secret stash of Twinkies.

Wrap-Up

Dieting isn’t about restricting yourself uncomfortably over weeks or months. Far from it.

The most effective way to keep those pounds off on a permanent basis involves making small changes you will have no problem keeping up on an ongoing basis.

Make some smart choices and see the kind of gradual weight loss that lasts. This is the best overarching strategy when it comes to planning your next weight loss diet.

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