Weight loss definitely isn’t easy and there are no “quick fixes” or one-size-fits-all solutions.This means that just because a strategy works for one person, doesn’t mean that it will be right for you. It also means that you may have to engage in a little bit of trial and error before you find a weight loss method that not only effectively helps you to lose weight, but allows you to maintain the loss long-term. Just remember, results take time, so when implementing a new plan make sure you stick with it long enough to figure out whether or not it’s actually working. Don’t give it up and move on to the next thing just because you aren’t seeing immediate changes. That said, if you need an outside-of-the-box method to switch-up your weight loss strategy, consider one of the following non-traditional approaches—all of which should be considered as part of plan that includes regular exercise and a diet consisting of mostly nutrient-rich, whole foods.
Research behind this method of “dieting” is still in its early stages, but some studies have shown that it may be an effective way to improve health and fitness, and many who implement intermittent fasting (IF) into their lifestyle find it to be an effective fat loss and muscle-building strategy. And although it’s frequently referred to as the IF “diet,” really, it’s less about reducing calories and more about optimizing the timing of your meals. There are several different ways to follow IF, but the most common method (popularized by Martin Berkhan on his website Lean Gains) follows a daily cycle that calls for 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour “feeding” period. Ultimately, the purpose of IF is to teach the body to use fuel more efficiently.
At first, this might seem like a wacky approach to weight loss, but if you think about it, most people know what they need to do to lose weight; the most difficult part is overcoming the mental roadblocks that prevent successful implementation of new healthy habits. “Hypnosis can successfully ‘turn off’ cravings, end emotional eating, end self-sabotage, and help a person find motivation to stay on track,” says Holly Stokes, a certified Hypnotherapist and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner and author of A Lighter You! Train Your Brain to Slim Your Body. She says there are different types of hypnosis, but in her practice she uses NLP hypnosis to help shift the mind's focus. “It’s about helping the unconscious mind learn new strategies and switch its focus to healthy foods,” she said. For the best effect, try incorporating hypnosis as part of a weight loss plan that also includes a smart approach to healthy eating and exercise.
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Kusha Karvandi suggests short-term carb cycling (a fat-loss method commonly used by competitive bodybuilders) as a weight loss approach for those who have exhausted other more basic diet methods. “With carbohydrate cycling, it's important to distinguish between short-term and long-term restriction,” Karvandi said. “There is evidence to suggest that short-term and relatively infrequent carbohydrate restriction is beneficial for both health and body composition.” According to Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition, Carb Cycling “is a planned alteration of carbohydrate intake in order to prevent a fat loss plateau and maintain metabolism along with workout performance.” While this is a proven method for effective fat loss, it is considered a “high-level” diet strategy which Karvandi says is best for those who are “nutritionally advanced.”
The idea behind meditation for weight loss is similar to hypnosis. “Most of us are overweight for emotional, not physical, reasons,” says Dina Proctor, a Mind-Body Coach and creator of the 3x3 Meditation Method. “We eat to soothe sadness and upset or to comfort ourselves in times of stress. The food for us isn’t our problem—it’s our solution to the emotional roller coaster we try to navigate.” While there’s not much science to support that meditation can directly help you to lose weight, it can certainly be a powerful component of a plan that also involves exercise and a smart approach to eating nutritiously. Proctor’s 3x3 method involves focused meditation for just three minutes, three times per day. The goal she says, is to “immerse yourself in positive thought patterns, reconnect your mind with your body, and rewire your mind’s relationship with food.”
If through past experiences, you know that regimented “diets” like intermittent fasting or carb cycling don’t work well for you, then Rachel Pires, a weight loss advisor and the author of the Diet Enlightenment, suggests that you ditch the typical “dieting mindset” all together. She explains that most people can’t expect to maintain long-term weight loss after finishing a diet program if it didn’t include the types of foods they enjoy and typically eat. “The key is to lose weight eating the types of food you love,” she said. Her approach suggests that instead of eliminating or manipulating a certain nutrient or food group, you simply remain vigilant about reducing your caloric intake. “The bottom line is that you do need to consume fewer calories to lose weight, but you don’t need to suffer while doing so.”
Food Addicts (FA) is a free recovery program designed to help people conquer unhealthy eating behaviors. The program is available as a resource for anyone who needs help controlling the way they eat, including those who are overweight, underweight, or feel they are obsessed with weight, food, and dieting. FA helps members using a three-fold approach that addresses the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of unhealthy eating habits and is available worldwide (even remotely if your geographic area hasn’t established in-person meetings.)
When implementing “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM), or what’s sometimes referred to as “flexible dieting”, you consume meals according to your body’s daily macronutrient (e.g. carbs, protein, fat) needs, aiming for a certain amount of each based on your daily caloric expenditure and your goals. This can be an effective approach to weight loss because like with carb cycling, research shows that evaluating and adjusting your macronutrient intake can effectively alter not only your body composition, but also your overall health. However, one of the downsides to the IIFYM Diet is that it doesn’t place a high emphasis on healthful foods. However, when using it as a healthful approach to weight loss, the idea is not necessarily to meet your macronutrient goals by only subsiding on foods like French fries, ice cream and candy, but more so to provide flexibility that allows the inclusion of these types of foods every now and then. Because of this, IIFYM is a great option for those who have a hard time with very strict diets that label all “bad” foods as completely off limits.
“Several studies have shown that people who keep food journals are more likely to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off,” Elaine Magee a Registered Dietitian and Master of Public Health wrote on WebMD. Studies have shown that monitoring your food intake by keeping a food diary (also making notes about how you feel) helps to increase your awareness of not only how much you’re eating, but also the nutritional value of your food intake and how it affects you. Magee also noted that journaling is effective because it can help you identify where changes need to be made and even deter overeating habits.