Does the thought of trying to lose weight make you feel overwhelmed and hopeless?  Do you feel like your goals are impossible and you’ve just gone too far to reverse the weight gain?  This type of negative thinking not only makes it harder to lose weight, but it is also simply not true!  It is never too late to make positive changes and lose the excess pounds, and weight loss is not rocket science.

We often wish for a magic pill or formula that can make us shed pounds without doing any work, but that is not the reality.  Fad diets and crash dieting may make you lose weight initially, but it isn’t healthy for your body and usually results in the return of all the weight you lost -plus more- when your body tries to come out of starvation mode.  Try these tips for safe, effective, and long-term weight loss:

You’ve always heard drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, but do you really follow that advice?  Drinking plenty of water flushes out your body systems and fills you up to help you eat less.  Each morning, measure out the amount of water you need to drink for the day to make sure you are getting sufficient amounts.  Keep a bottle of water handy and sip throughout the day.

Weight loss (and weight gain) is really determined by how many calories you take in versus how many your body burns.  The more you exercise the more you need to eat, and vice versa.  Choose quality over quantity; eat more fresh vegetables and fruits and less high-fat foods.  Avoid foods such as desserts and fried food, and only eat until you are full.  Preparing your own meals will allow you to control what goes into your food and keeps you away from the fried, high-calorie, or nutritionally deficient convenience meals and fast food.  But don’t starve yourself; depriving your body of food will only make you crave more and binge when hunger strikes.

Track your calories every day and see where you are overeating.  Keeping a food journal is a great way to start.  By writing down EVERYTHING you put in your mouth you can see where you are overindulging and make plans to stick to a healthy eating plan.  Eat several small meals a day, don’t allow yourself to become over-hungry, and always keep healthy snacks available.

Set goals – but keep them attainable.  For example, set mini goals instead of trying to lose large amounts of weight.  This will make reaching the goals easier, and allow you to celebrate each small success along the way.  Reward yourself when you hit a goal, then work toward the next one.

Try to avoid stress over weight loss and in your life in general.  Stress can cause a vicious cycle of depression, overeating, and weight gain.  Take time each day to unwind, breathe, and do something you enjoy.  Pay attention to triggers that cause you to eat too much or the wrong things, and work to eliminate those triggers.

The easiest way to lose weight?  Move your body!  Exercise burns calories and builds muscle, which work together to melt the weight right off.  Any exercise is beneficial, even in small doses.  Walking, dancing, and playing with your children are good places to start.  Enlist the help of a friend with similar goals and work out together.  Strive for 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise a few days a week and increase the amount as your body becomes stronger and more fit.

Losing weight is not impossible or hard, you just have to have the right attitude and willpower to make it a reality.  Don’t overthink it –  by gradually making small changes in your eating habits and activity levels you can see big results over time in your weight and health.