Good Habits for Losing Weight

Successful weight loss is the result of making good choices day in and day out until your goal has been reached. The National Weight Control Registry tracks more than 10,000 people who have successfully lost weight and have kept it off. When you look at these dieters strategies, a few solid habits emerge including daily breakfast, increased physical activity and regular weigh-ins, among others.

Breakfast of Champions

Start your day off right with a healthy breakfast, and you might just see the number on the scale decreasing because of it. Approximately 78 percent of participants in the National Weight Control Registry said they ate breakfast every day, and Harvard Medical School reports that those who eat breakfast are leaner than those who skip it. Opt for a high-fiber breakfast such as whole-grain cereals or toast, along with non-fat milk and a bit of fruit such as bananas, berries or apple slices. Skip high-fat or high-salt breakfasts such as hash browns, bacon and pastries – you won’t reap the same benefits.

Keep a Diary

Get in the habit of writing down the food you eat on a daily basis – those that keep themselves accountable via a food log are more likely to lose weight, according to a study published in 2008 in the “American Journal of Preventative Medicine.” The research, which involves nearly 1,700 obese or overweight adults, tasked participants with keeping food diaries, in addition to making healthy food choices and staying physically active. After six months, participants lost an average of 13 pounds; however, the best predictor of how much weight each person lost was how often they jotted down their food intake. Those who kept records six days a week lost twice as much weight as those who only noted their consumption one day a week. Get in the habit by keeping a notepad and pen with you or by downloading a food diary app on your smartphone.

Stick to Your Favorites

Variety is the spice of life, but it’s not so beneficial to weight loss. Make it a habit to pick your meals from a small slate of options, such as three or four items you like for breakfast, lunch and dinner. According to nutritional consultant Mike Roussell, Ph.D., in a column for "Shape" magazine, this is an effective weight-loss strategy -- it allows you to better predict your daily caloric intake without putting too much effort in weighing, measuring and tracking calories – and that leads to effortless weight loss. The key is to have some diverse foods – particularly fruits and vegetables -- within those few options for each meal so you get the wide range of nutrients that you need each day.

Exercise Daily

Although diet plays a large role in weight loss, developing an exercise habit helps, too. Ninety-four percent of NWCR participants reporting boosting their physical activity to lose weight; walking was the most commonly reported type of exercise. Beyond that, 90 percent of participants exercise at least an hour each day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you get 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity each week, along with two days of strength-training sessions that target all major muscle groups.