5 Lifestyle changes for weight loss


In my last post, I looked into why diets don’t work. The obvious next question is, so what DOES actually help for weight loss? What lifestyle changes can we make for weight loss?

Based on all the research I have read and my own experience with weight loss, the most crucial thing is to completely ditch the whole idea of a diet and focus instead on making lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes are not just a temporary, short-term fix. Instead, they become a way of life you are willing to keep up over time.

They are not built on deprivation and restriction but focus instead on finding what nourishes you best.

Oh, and please forget about counting calories. Calories tell only a small part of the story. Focus instead on eating a healthy, balanced diet filled with real, unprocessed food. Think about nourishment, not calories.

Here are 5 lifestyle changes for weight loss:

1. Create a vision that goes beyond the number of kilos you want to lose.

WHY do you want to lose weight? What is truly going to motivate you to make changes to your lifestyle? ‘I want to lose 5 kilos’ is not motivating while ‘I am still young and want to actually look and feel my age’ or ‘I want to feel happy and confident in my body’ is. Your vision can then be used as a filter for making decisions: Will eating those cookies allow me to feel happy and confident in my body?

Action step: Create a vision that motivates you, that reminds you of the deeper reason you want to lose those 5 kilos. Keep asking ‘why’ to get to the root motivation.

2. Instead of focusing on what you CAN’T eat, focus on what you CAN eat. 

What do you want to include more of in your diet? Vegetables? Healthy fats? Protein? Superfoods? More regular meal times? More exercise? Studies show that focusing on positive change instead of deprivation actually leads to more sustainable weight loss. By adding healthy foods and habits instead of focusing on eliminating unhealthy ones, it is easier and more natural to create new habits as less healthy options are ‘crowded out’.

Action step: Identify the healthy habits you would like to add to your lifestyle, starting with just one habit each week. For example, week 1 could be adding more vegetables. Week 2 could focus on a commitment to always take the stairs. Start small and build up.

3. Bring a level of awareness to what you eat. 

Did you know that we make more than 200 food and beverage related decision EVERY DAY? Yet as Cornell University professor, Brian Wansink states,

So many food decisions are made on mindless autopilot.

Eating without really thinking often leads to eating too much or eating whatever is in front of us.

Action step: Keep a food journal: Writing down everything you eat and drink can bring a level of awareness and accountability that has been shown to help in weight loss.

4. Be realistic and gentle with yourself

Seeing the world as filled with ‘permitted’ or ‘forbidden’ foods will merely increase cravings for the ‘off limit’ foods. Strive instead for my 80% is perfection strategy where indulgence is permitted and nothing is off limits when consumed in moderation. Something I find helpful when it comes to indulgence is to decide beforehand how much you are allowing yourself to eat.

Action point: Allow pleasurable, mindful indulgences in your diet. Look into upgrading your indulgent food choices.

5. Acknowledge and accept your emotions

Perhaps because of my background in Psychology, I don’t think weight loss can be sustainable without taking into account the more emotional aspect of food and body image. We do not use food merely as fuel – it is loaded with meaning and emotion which needs to be taken into account. What do the extra kilos you are trying to get rid of signify? Protection? A way of avoiding a certain situation? A lack of self-worth? What do your cravings mean?

Action step: Identify the emotions you are bringing to the weight loss process. Journaling or working with someone can help bring more clarity to the process.

What about you, are there any changes you have made to your lifestyle that have helped you lose weight? What action points from this post would you like to experiment with?


Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct

Number of food choices study 

Food diary study

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  • Weight Loss on Sep 16, 2020 Reply

    Nice guidance! We can achieve our weight loss goal easily by changing our lifestyle. I will definitely follow your blog. Thanks and keep sharing.

  • King on Aug 08, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for the great info dog I owe you biygitg.

  • Faris on Apr 23, 2013 Reply

    A great follow-up to your previous post!
    Love the action steps which are very practical and applicable.

  • Hiba on Apr 22, 2013 Reply

    Good for you! Let me know what works best for you :)

    If you are interested, here are 2 ways to upgrade your chocoholic-ness (and I speak from personal experience as a fellow chocolate lover!):

    1. Eat chocolate that is at least 70% cacao
    2. Try to eat chocolate and sugar in general earlier in the day. During sleep is the best time for the liver to burn fat, but when you eat sugar in the evening, the body only burns sugar instead of fat.

    Anyway, it sounds like you are off to a good start :)

  • Chocoholic Elena on Apr 22, 2013 Reply

    Right in time, I was also in the mood to fit again in all my cloths… First day, and I managed to eat my first, and only, very small piece of chocolate of the day at 9 pm. No victory is small !

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