Five Ways to Shed Pounds This Fall

By Katherine Brooking, MS, RD

Fall is officially here. If summer wasn’t exactly your slimdown season, now is the perfect time to push the reset button, get back on track and lose some weight. Here are five tips for shedding pounds starting today:

1) Ready, set, goals
The first step to successful weight loss is to set realistic and measurable goals. Research has shown that tracking your food intake, exercise routine, and weight loss progress can help you to stay with your weight loss plan. Most experts agree that gradual weight loss – about 1 to 2 pounds per week – is best.

Write down your goals and how you plan to achieve them. Your goals should be measurable (e.g. cook two vegetable-based meals this week, exercise for at least 45 minutes four times per week, etc.). Research also shows that visualizing yourself implementing and meeting your goals is key to success. You may be tempted to go on a crash diet, but it is better to go slow and steady than crash and burn.

2) Dedicate yourself to exercise
One of the best things about the fall season is that it is easy to be physically active. Take advantage of the cooler days to move your body. I say this all the time, but I say it again: Do something you enjoy. Working out doesn’t have to feel like work. Be creative. Mix it up. Take up a new sport. Swim, hike, run. Walk your dog. Walk yourself. Dance. Aim for 60 minutes of activity on most days. If you haven’t been active at all for many months (or years), please check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness routine.

3) Don’t drink your calories
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s an easy way to eliminate extra calories. A soda here and there can add up to hundreds of calories a day. Switch to water or zero-calorie drinks like unsweetened tea or diet colas. If you love juice and don’t want to give it up, have a juice spritzer made with 1/4 cup juice and 3/4 cup seltzer water. And beware of those creamy autumn coffee beverages. Many of those have lots of added calories. If you need your morning joe, stick with black coffee, skim latte, or coffee with skim milk and a little sweetener.

4) Thrive, don’t deprive
For most people, a weight loss plan that is too strict is bound to backfire. Losing weight doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your favorite foods or treats. But you do need to have a good plan in place to eat mostly healthy meals and deal with temptations. If there are specific high-calorie foods like ice cream that you absolutely cannot give up, resolve to managing portion sizes, so that your ‘indulgent’ food intake stays under 200 calories per day.

Or you can swap out a high-calorie treat for a lower-calorie satisfying alternative. For example, I love cakes and brownies, but I can’t have a 500-calorie brownie every night for desert. Instead, I make (or buy) a tasty low-cal version that has just 120 calories. These kinds of swaps and portion downsizes require you to be a savvy consumer. So, get smart! Read labels, plan your meals and snacks, and get a few great recipes that will keep you full and satisfied. Just think how sexy you will look at all those upcoming holiday parties. Can’t beat that.

5) Get by with a little help from your friends
If you need it, get help from family, gym pals, a support group, or online community (like Creating a weight loss plan and sticking to it requires strength, knowledge, fortitude, and often a little help from others. Finding the right support team for you can make the difference between losing steam and meeting your goals.

Katherine Brooking, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian, writer and expert contributor to numerous television programs. She has appeared on The TODAY Show, Live with Regis & Kelly, The Early Show on CBS, Good Morning America Health, and many others. She covers health and wellness topics in SELF Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times and New York Daily News. For more information go to

The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.

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