If you’ve ever tried to lose weight by cutting calories or eliminating certain food groups altogether, you know it is no easy task.  Dinners with friends are to be avoided, and you can forget those holiday cookies that keep showing up around the office well past Valentine’s Day.  Fear not, losing the weight can be done much simpler than you might think, and it starts with building a routine of healthier habits that eventually overshadow the bad ones altogether.  Below are seven tips to help you lose the weight without losing your mind: 

Build Muscle with Resistance Training and Good Nutrition

Relying on exercise to lose weight without good nutrition is a lost cause.  Resistance training strengthens your muscles, improves bone density, and increases your resting metabolism, which allows you to burn more calories throughout the day.  Eating too many processed foods may prevent you from losing the body fat required to see those sexy, new muscles.

Stay Active Throughout the Day

There is no greater feeling than walking out of the weight room dripping in sweat, victorious over a brutal workout.  However, if you leave drained rather than invigorated and spend the rest of the day as a couch potato, you are doing yourself an injustice.  Studies show that the trimmest people are active throughout their entire day.  Break the slump and keep moving, even if it’s a brisk walk or 10 minutes of stretching to break up a busy work day.

Ignore Food Advertising

If you are buying food in a box, you are buying a product that was designed to have a long shelf life, and tastes so good, you will want to keep buying more boxes.  Big food companies don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart, and processed foods containing flour, sugar and saturated fats will wreak havoc on your waistline.  Ignore the hype, and do a majority of your shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store, filling up on vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins.

Start Eating Whole Foods

Eating nutrient dense fruits and vegetables are as important as counting calories.  The foundation of your diet should be complex carbohydrates, such as grains, beans, and potatoes, complemented by a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and lean proteins.  Start eating as many vegetables as you can fit on your plate.  French fries do not make the cut. 

Increase Consumption of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Most Americans are not getting enough Omega-3’s in their diet.  Omega-3’s are best found in fish but also found in plant sources, such as leafy, green vegetables, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.  These healthy fats may decrease inflammation and fight disease, and also aid in weight loss and muscle repair. 

Keep a Consistent Schedule

During waking hours, your body responds best to meals on a consistent schedule.  This means breakfast, lunch and dinner at roughly the same time each day.  While you are sleeping, your body goes into repair and restore mode, and relies on you to stay asleep long enough for these processes to complete.  An erratic schedule can lead to insomnia and decreased immunity that will prevent you from performing at your best.

Burn Fat While You Sleep

In order to effectively burn off what you’ve eaten during the day, your body needs a 10 - 12 hour fasting window.  Stop eating 2 - 3 hours before bed time, and allow yourself at least 7 hours of restful sleep each night.  If you find you are still hungry late in the evening, you are not consuming enough during the day.  Add in a late afternoon snack between lunch and dinner to keep hunger pangs at bay.

Sarah Dalton is the founder of Able Mind Able Body, a Las Vegas based company offering motivational lifestyle coaching and personal training services.  She takes a holistic approach to healthy living, and educates others on the benefits of nutrition, exercise, and emotional health.  Visit www.ablemindablebody.com for more information.