6 Simples Changes That Can Help You Lose Weight

Use the summer to get fit, eat healthier and live better

Medically reviewed in September 2021

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Summer means warmer temps with much longer days, making it the perfect time to get outside and be active. There’s also a plethora of delicious, seasonal produce to enjoy. It’s the perfect time to start making changes towards a healthier lifestyle.

We know it can be hard to get started so we caught up with Julie Geyer, RD, dietician and clinical nutrition manager at Rose Medical Center, in Denver, to get tips that can help you have the happiest and healthiest summer ever—and how to make these changes stick all year long.

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Set realistic goals, and make a plan

Instead of setting lofty goals, such as “lose 20 pounds this month,” set small, attainable ones. “Have a few goals, three or four, that you’re going to work on right now versus trying to eat the whole elephant,” says Geyer.

For example, ditch the soda and drink water or unsweetened tea. Track your steps through an app, such as Sharecare (available on iOS and Android) and try to walk a little further every day. Try adding one more serving of vegetables per day to your diet.

Plan out how you are going to do it, Geyer says. Write down your weight loss goals and steps to achieve them. The act of committing your goals to paper keeps you accountable and motivated.

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Overhaul your pantry and fridge

Few things will sabotage your efforts like junk food. Before getting started on a healthy eating plan, purge your pantry of the sugary and calorie-laden snacks that are hard to say no to.

“I think everyone has their trigger foods—the things they know they just can’t turn down – so try and avoid having them stocked in your kitchen,” says Geyer. Instead of chips and sweets, snack on seasonal fruits and veggies, a handful of almonds or low-fat yogurt. Keep hummus in your fridge to pair with bell pepper, cucumbers or carrots. Combine greek yogurt and fresh fruit in popsicle molds to make a cool treat. Slice a farm fresh tomato and drizzle it with balsamic vinegar.

And make sure you get rid of sugary drinks, too, opting instead for water, seltzer, unsweetened tea or coffee. “I think a lot of the empty calories from soda and other drinks are a huge downfall for people [who are trying to lose weight],” she says.

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Plan ahead

Meal planning makes it easy to avoid the pitfalls of fast food and other unhealthy diet temptations, says Geyer.

Pick a day each week to plan your meals and shopping list. Consider what you can make ahead for breakfast and lunch, list healthy snack options for in between meals and plan out simple, healthy dinners that won’t be a hassle to whip up at the end of the day.

Sheet pan meals are great for cooking lean protein and veggies together, since they come together quickly and make enough for multiple meals. Think about doubling a batch of your favorite dinner so you can freeze it. That can make meal prep easy for another week.

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Enlist a buddy

One of the best ways to jumpstart your weight loss efforts and stay on track is to enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member. Surround yourself with people who are going to encourage you to eat well, get moving and stay motivated. “Having someone support you in your weight loss journey is key,” Geyer says. 

Plus, it makes it more fun if you have a friend to walk with at lunch or tag along to a fitness class. If you're worried about eating healthy, make a pact with a coworker to bring your lunch from home at least 4 days per week.

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Skip quick-fix detoxes

There are tons of detox diets and cleanses that make grand claims of fast weight loss. But, be careful, warns Geyer. “Generally, detoxes aren’t safe and they can actually be harmful,” she says.

“Detoxes upset the whole balance of your body, and that’s not something you want. They clear out your GI system and disrupt the microdome—the little guys that live in your gut that are beneficial to you, like prebiotics and probiotics,” she explains.

Since your body can detox itself, the best thing to do is to eat a mostly plant-based diet full of fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

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Change the way you think about dieting

Committing to weight loss that lasts well beyond summer is tough and requires continued motivation. Don’t look at your lifestyle changes as a short-term sacrifice; instead, see it as a long-term, healthy commitment that consists of eating right and exercising regularly. 

“Diets come and go but if you have a healthy lifestyle, you’re making choices because you know you’ll feel and look better, live longer and have less chronic disease,” says Geyer. “Those are the motivating factors [that work] versus a diet that you’re going to stick with for two weeks and then give up.”

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