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When slimming down is your top priority, reaching your ideal weight can be a frustrating9 diet tips
process. As you age, your body goes through some pretty significant changes. Gone are the days of being able to eat a bowl of pasta and burn it off immediately. Now, extra pounds seem to pile onto your midsection each time you step foot into the kitchen.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, it’s time to get back on track. And it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. Here at The Cheat Sheet, we know the value of a healthy lifestyle. So, if you’ve had trouble losing weight, give these nine easy changes a try.

1. Make small diet improvements

The process of slimming down takes time. You’ll need to figure out what works for you, and what doesn’t. Everyday Health mentions being too ambitious with the goals you set could mean setting yourself up for failure.

Because drastic lifestyle changes aren’t typically effective, start by finding one aspect of your diet you’re able to change fairly easily. For instance, opt for a side salad instead of a side of fries if you’re out to lunch or dinner. If you start implementing these smaller lifestyle changes into your daily routine, larger ones will likely follow suit

2. Maintain good nutrition

No matter how hard you exercise, proper nutrition is key in sticking to your weight-loss plan. Ditch the processed foods and make a conscious effort to eat healthier. In building balanced meals and snacks throughout the day, recommends combining at least three of the five food groups. Not only will this help you stay satisfied, but it will also ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need.

3. Try the zigzag diet

If you’re having trouble with the previous point, you’re not alone. So, maybe it’s time to switch things up a bit with the zigzag dietLivestrong explains it “involves staggering a low-calorie diet with high-calorie days.” Basically, this diet is rooted in the belief that you’ll be confusing your body, which will (hopefully) kick your metabolism into high gear.

With this method, you look at your caloric intake on a weekly basis, rather than day-to-day. Not only will this type of 
diet keep your metabolism revved, but it gives you the flexibility to accommodate your individual needs and lifestyle, making it the perfect tool to bust through a plateau.

4. Eat five times a day

Skipping meals or starving yourself won’t actually help you lose weight. In fact, PopSugar suggests eating five times a day. “In order to prevent that famished feeling that drives us to overeat, plan on eating three meals and two snacks a day, timing them so you eat every two to three hours,” the publication says. Skipping meals to save calories will only slow your metabolism, resulting in weight gain instead of loss.

5. Set small goals and celebrate them

As soon as you commit to losing weight, you immediately set goals and expectations for yourself. Realistically, though, it’s often a long, grueling journey. Don’t get discouraged, though. Remember to pat yourself on the back for every accomplishment you make, big or small.

PopSugar suggests, “Find healthy ways to celebrate those milestones such as a pedicure after 10 workouts or a cute workout top after losing five pounds.” You deserve to reward yourself when the hard work starts paying off.

6. Stay active

While diet plays a huge role in weight loss, so too does an active lifestyle. Whether you prefer classes at the gym or evening walks with your neighbor, exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, Best Health reports exercise becomes increasingly important as you approach your target weight. So, even if it’s hard in the beginning, sticking to your fitness plan will help you achieve success in the long run.

7. Change up your workout routine

Beating a weight-loss plateau is all about changing your previous habits. Shocking your system with a new workout routine just may be what your body needs to get over that hurdle. WebMD says, “To keep your muscles guessing — and performing the ultimate calorie burn — vary your physical activity. And push the envelope to power past that plateau!” Any exercise plan that looks like it’s on repeat isn’t doing you any good. Your muscles will just become used to your routine, in turn halting the weight loss process.

8. Look beyond the scale

he mighty scale can be quite deceiving. One day, you’re elated with your progress, and the next, you’re three pounds heavier. Given the scale’s history of inconsistency, take the evil little square with a grain of salt. And remember, extra pounds on any given day could be the result of something as trivial as water weight.

To get an accurate measure of the health you’re in, it’s best to meet with your doctor or other fitness professional. After all, there are a lot of factors that come into play, such as your BMI. Your health depends on much more than just a number on a scale.

9. Sleep and recover

No matter how well you’ve been eating or how much you’ve been exercising, you’re doomed if you’re not getting enough sleep. In fact, research shows that cutting back on sleep reduces the effectiveness of your diet. A lack of sleep elevates your body’s levels of ghrelin, a hormone responsible for reducing your energy and stirring your appetite. You’re also likely to retain more fat when you don’t sleep enough.

How to get a better night’s sleep

Luckily, you stand to get a better night’s sleep if you’re eating right and exercising. But if you still find yourself fighting to catch those quality Zs, you’re probably a bit skeptical. However, there’s no need to freak out just because you don’t have the best history of sleeping soundly. There are certainly things you can do, like turning your electronics off before bed, and sleeping in a cool room.

From Cheat Sheet: Health and Fitness
(click image for more info)

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