If you’re trying to drop pounds, chances are you’ve heard the same ho-hum weight-loss tips over and over. Not here. Ted Spiker, coauthor of best-selling health and fitness books like the Dr. Oz YOU series, offers surprising (and useful) advice in his new book,Down Size. Here are three of our favorite lessons:
1. Avoiding temptation takes more than determination.
Willpower isn’t about suffering, it’s about strategy. You need an emergency response in the form of an if/then statement: If x happens, you do y. Your contingency plan will morph into your new habit, Spiker says, and override your impulse to say, “Sure, why not?” Make a mental list of the scenarios that usually derail you and devise your game plan, he suggests. Examples:
- If my partner is eating blocks of cheese, then I’ll grab the veggies and hummus.
- If my coworkers bring in cupcakes constantly, then I’ll only eat one once a week (or month).
- If I’m at a Mexican restaurant, I’ll alternate between guac and salsa, and between margaritas and water.
2. Count fitness feats, not calories.
Self-monitoring—such as keeping a food diary or counting calories—is significantly linked with weight loss, research shows. Still, it can get tedious especially as you learn to eat more healthily and can ballpark calories. So Spiker changed tack and gave his self-monitoring a fitness slant, tracking all his exercise with yearly goals (1,000 miles run, 75 miles swum, 30,000 seconds doing planks, etc.). The strategy was lower maintenance, Spiker says, and also helped him with setting goals and focusing on the little steps of the process. A great way to slim down and #makefithappen!
3. You need to know the magic words.
Research shows that tweaks in your word choice can lead to better food choices, Spiker notes. Saying “I don’t eat ice cream” makes you feel more empowered than “I can’t eat ice cream.” In fact, people who practiced an “I don’t” phrase picked a healthier option 64 percent of the time, compared to only 39 percent of the time in the “I can’t” group.