So you’ve heard that dieting is out. You’ve heard that going keto and cutting out carbs and Weight Watchers don’t tend to lead to sustainable weight loss and can often have you gaining weight back after it’s over.

Most (smart) experts are preaching that healthy habits are the best way for the vast majority of people to hit their goals, maintain them, and live life to its fullest all at the same time.

That’s really cool except “healthy habits” are so extremely vague it can be hard to sell and teach on a large scale. So today I’m compiling 5 of my favorite habits that have transformed my life and the lives of all of my clients!

Remember, habits take time to build. Take it slow, give yourself grace, and be consistent!

1. Fluff With Veggies:

If you’ve been following me and my method for a while, you’ve heard me say this a million times before. If you can get in the habit of fluffing your meals with high fiber, low carb, low calorie veggies, you can likely achieve a moderate calorie deficit without counting, tracking, or cutting out anything. I suggest about a half plate of veggies at least two meals a day if not 3 if you can. If you’re not having a traditional “plated” meal and going for something more like a casserole or a stew, or even a bowl of oatmeal, keep the “half a plate” in mind but think “fluff.” You can add frozen or fresh vegetables to casseroles, chili, soups, and yes — even oatmeal.

Make this habit easy by adding vegetables to your already favorite meals! Don’t change too much too fast. If you love mac and cheese, think about adding steamed cauliflower or broccoli instead of removing pasta and cheese sauce. If you love tacos, think about how you can build a taco salad with just as much flavor and satisfaction and using a few tortilla chips as a crunch on top!

2. Sips Not Chips:

Boredom eating, stress eating, emotional eating, and habitual eating while you’re working or watching TV all present themselves as unhealthy habits that can be hard to get rid of. Instead of completely stripping away the habit and comfort of having something to munch on in those times, I suggest replacing the habit with SIPS. Sips can be coffee in the AM, herbal tea, low sugar hot cocoas, decaf unsweetened lattes, or naturally flavored water.

I love leaning on sips instead of chips (or any snack food) because it allows you to keep the comforting and mindless behavior of having something to keep your hands and mouth busy if you want to, while staying true to your energy and food needs for the day.

3. 10 Second Breather:

10 Second Breathers are my jam! If I’m coming up on a big box of donuts and want all of them or just feel like eating to distract me from life, I take a deep 10-second breather, dial into what my body really needs, and either enjoy my treat mindfully or move on depending on what I choose.

Part of donut eaten.

It’s way too easy to jump into a meal, snack, or treat, anxious, stressed, or thinking about 100 other things. In those moments it’s almost instinctual that we fall back into the “screw it” mindset and let overeating and mindless eating overcome us.

By allowing yourself those 10 seconds, you get to dial in, ease stress and anxiety, and make a choice about what would really feel good for your body and get you closer to your goals. Sometimes you’ll choose to have the treat but I guarantee you, you’ll eat it far more mindfully and decrease the likelihood of a binge. Other times you’ll move on, go for a walk, or do something else that’ll support you and your health goals.

4. Do the Little Things:

There’s no pretty way to say this but, don’t be lazy. Get off your butt and put your dishes in the sink. Fill the dishwasher. Fold your clothes and put them away. Go to the grocery store yourself instead of Instacarting it. Park further away from the store. Stop asking someone else to get something for you and get up and get it yourself.

Get in the habit of doing the little things that make you move more. It’ll do more than just get you moving, it’ll keep you alert and decrease the chance of you getting sluggish and tired throughout the day.

A little really does go a long way.

5. Talk Kindly to Yourself:

We’ve heard this one too. Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to your best friend. Corny, overrated, unrealistic. Call it what you want, but it works. If you think you’re fat and ugly and don’t deserve nice things — you’ll treat yourself that way. If you think you’ll never be able to lose weight and keep it off — you’ll treat yourself that way (hello self-sabotage). If you think you failed because you ate a cookie or three — you’ll treat yourself like a failure.

I know it’s hard, I know it’s uncomfortable, but if you really want change you need to start talking to yourself like you deserve change. And let’s be real, you DO deserve it! You are successful in so many freaking areas of your life, you can be successful in this area too.

You just need to remind yourself of that. Over and over and over again until it’s the way you really feel.

I really should’ve put that last one first because mindset really is everything.

By Leena Abed