10/12/2012 07:25 EDT

Weight Loss Tips: Joy Bauer's 10 Ways To Lose Weight And Keep It Off


People who have struggled to lose weight have heard it all: Cut back on calories! Work out for hours! Give up all the foods you love! But this isn't what successful weight loss means.

Losing those unwanted pounds is about preparation, setting goals and sticking to your workout plan, says Joy Bauer, a health and nutrition expert for the TODAY Show.

"You have to find a meaningful reason for finally wanting to lose weight. Most people I've worked with have lost weight but gained it back at some point — the first step is to figure out why you want to lose weight again,"she said at the second annual St. Lucia Health and Wellness Retreat in Castries, St. Lucia. The retreat focused on helping participants develop healthier lifestyle choices and exposed them to meditation, healthy cooking classes and outdoor fitness.

You start, Bauer suggests, by looking at your diet. What are your go-to foods and where do you fail? Huffington Post Canada blogger and health and wellness expert Rose Reisman suggests finding inspiration in some of the healthiest diets in the world. The Mediterranean diet, for example, uses few processed foods and has more dishes with fresh seasonal foods. In Japan, a soy-based diet that contains phytoestrogens, is believed to block estrogen levels and lower the risk of breast cancer.

And most of us know that even if weight loss is easy at first, those last 10 pounds can be incredibly draining. One study revealed that "diet fatigue" was the reason some dieters often struggle to cut the last few pounds.

"Dieters become less careful, they are not taking the precautions they did in terms of knowing what they ate, how much," says Carla Wolper, research faculty at the Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s. "They may not realize they’re not as careful anymore." This fatigue can be defeated by keeping up with your food journal and recalculating calorie intakes for a new size.

But before you reach the last few pounds, here are 10 of Bauer's secrets to start a positive and healthy journey to weight loss:

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Get Your Head In The Game

What's the real reason behind your weight loss goals? Do you want to look great in your wedding dress or just have more energy throughout the day? "You have to find a meaningful reason for finally wanting to lose weight," Bauer says. Writing your goals down or finding an online community support group are the first steps to develop healthy weight loss patterns, Bauer adds.

Track Your Progress

"It's also important to give yourself a pat on the back because you will hit plateaus," Bauer says. She recommends weighing in regularly (if you're up for it) and using a measuring tape to track the state of your abdominals, legs, arms or other areas you're working on. You can also try free graphing sites like Skinnyr or Fridge Graph to track your progress every month — or just stick to Excel.

Exercise .. Every Single Day

"Exercise every single day for at least 30 minutes like it's a prescription," Bauer says. Bauer recommends multitasking to make exercising go by faster. Try going on the treadmill with your iPad or a book or holding on to some weights during your morning commute to work.

Eliminate The Extras

How many times do you take a piece of someone's cookie or take a sip on someone's drink? Bauer says everything adds up. To stop yourself from adding extra calories to your diet, she recommends putting all those extra bits and pieces of food into a plastic bag and not in your mouth.

Use A Support System

Grab a co-worker, friend or even your kid and go for a walk. "This is an easy way to enjoy success together. "Work out with someone or start a walking club in your neighbourhood," Bauer says.

Lose Liquid Calories

"Generally sugary soda products have about 17 teaspoons of sugar and up to 250 calories. The worst part is these drinks don't fill you up and you often crash," Bauer says. She suggests drinking little to no pop over time and limiting wines or champagnes to one glass per day. What you should be drinking? Plain old H20.

Be Comfortable In The Kitchen

It's time to skip takeout and put on a chef's hat, Bauer says. "How much do you eat when you go out? A cheeseburger and fries at a restaurant can add up to 1,400 calories," she says, adding that eating sweet potato fries with low fat spaghetti and meatballs at home, for example, can cut the fat in half. If you're looking for recipe ideas, check out Huffington Post Taste.

Avoid Trigger Foods

"Keep that junk out of your house. Don't fool yourself into thinking you're only going to have one," Bauer says. Trigger foods are those addictive go-to foods that everyone has in their cupboards or fridges. It could be ice cream, chocolate or chips. Give your kitchen a clean sweep and remove all of the junk food. (It will also benefit your kids).

Forgive Slip-Ups

"When you take a trek on the dark side, don't let it set you back," Bauer says. If you're an emotional eater, don't give up on your goals or feel bad about yourself, she adds. "This is the hardest thing. Most successful dieters have conquered this and if you can master it, you will lose whatever you want and keep it off."

Set Both Short-Term And Long-Term Goals

It doesn't matter if you want to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, both short-term and long-term goals should be set for weight loss, Bauer says. She recommends having small goals like skipping fatty foods and trying new recipes, and not using the vending machine at work as a long-term goal.