It isn’t easy to lose weight, especially when you try to make too many major lifestyle changes all at once.

When you’re feeling completely overwhelmed knowing you have to pay more attention to what you eat, and how much you exercise, all while still keeping up with the rest of your daily responsibilities, it makes sense why you’d want to quit trying even before you start.

Here are five effective ways to lose weight that won’t leave you feeling stressed or burned out.

Include all five major food groups in your diet

Don’t hold yourself back from trying to lose weight just because you don’t want to cut out foods. There’s no rule that says you can’t embark on a weight loss journey without changing your entire diet on the spot.

When it comes to food, it’s a variety of food groups, and appropriate portions, that will reduce your calorie intake, not cutting out foods or eating more of one kind of food over another. Including grains, protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy in your diet means you will automatically consume more kinds of foods that have more nutritious value in them per serving, but fewer calories, such as vegetables.

Exercise a little bit, a few times per week

Intense, daily exercise isn’t necessary if you want to lose weight gradually. You might find it hard to get into an exercise routine if you go into it thinking you have to work out until your muscles ache, then wake up and do it all over again the next day.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Reducing your calorie intake combined with exercising consistently is your key to seemingly effortless weight loss. The goal is to burn more calories than you’re putting in. If you can find a fitness activity you love, you’re one step closer to losing a few pounds. It’s better to give various activities a try until you find the ones you like doing than to avoid exercising altogether, especially when you want to lose weight.

Relax by doing something that doesn’t involve food

Relaxing even when you feel overwhelmed is part of a healthy lifestyle. Stress can lead to overeating and weight gain without you even realizing it’s happening. Weight loss doesn’t come easily, though, if your definition of relaxation involves mindless snacking while binge-watching FRIENDS on Netflix.

If you need some relaxation time in the evenings or over the weekend, do something that doesn’t involve food. Read a book or do a mindless activity that requires two hands, like folding laundry with a T.V. show playing in the background. Go for a walk around the block. Play with your cat or dog.

Make weight loss part of your life, not your whole life

Deciding to take steps toward losing weight is a big choice. You will probably start off fairly motivated and attentive to what your doctor and/or dietitian suggest, but the journey often branches off in two different directions not long after that. Either you’ll keep at it full force or slowly start falling back into old, less healthful habits. It’s hard to find the middle ground.

To lose weight without hitting either wall, don’t make it your only priority. Decide what things are most important to you – work? Family? Friends? Figure out how to incorporate weight loss into each of those key areas in your life. By focusing on being your most productive at work, for example, you’ll start thinking more about what kinds of food and snacks to pack that will keep you feeling at your best. Or you might decide walking up and down a few flights of stairs during your 10-minute break is something you’d rather do than stand around the coffee maker in the break room.

Eat what you want, when you want it

You may have been previously led to believe weight loss means you have to stop eating certain foods. In reality, depriving yourself of foods you like to eat makes weight loss basically impossible.

When you completely remove foods you enjoy from your diet, it’s much harder to introduce and experiment with new, sometimes healthier alternatives. There’s no need to stop eating one food, as long as you balance it out with another. You can still eat chocolate, as long as you make sure to have your fruits and veggies, too.

With small, gradual changes over time, weight loss isn’t just effortless: it’s possible. Try one new thing at a time and figure out what works for you. Losing weight is about improving your health and feeling better, and every person is different. You can, and will, make it happen!

Featured photo credit: Lindsay via flickr.com

Set a Goal For Yourself

Read full content