Six fitness and nutrition pros share their personal tips for fighting the battle of the bulge. (Bonus: You don’t have to give up carbs!)  

By Kaitlyn Pirie
Illustrations by Gretchen Röehrs

Do what you love

“For years I struggled with staying consistent. I’d do whatever workout I thought I was supposed to do,” says Katie Dunlop, a certified personal trainer and creator of Love Sweat Fitness. “If it was trendy and seemed torturous, I did it—at least for two weeks until I was burnt out.” She finally realized there’s no one-size-fits-all routine. Look for workouts that you enjoy and that continually challenge you and give you confidence. Dunlop’s faves: bodyweight strength training, HIIT and yoga sculpt. 

Eat the right carbs

Everyone talks about eliminating carbs, but doing so can leave you so hangry that you eat more. The trick is to opt for high-fiber carbs like chickpea pasta. “Insoluble fiber is the zero-calorie, non-digestible part of a carbohydrate that adds bulk to food,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, author of The F-Factor Diet. “I love food but need to watch what I eat. The fiber in the carbs I choose fills me up and boosts my metabolism.” 

Don’t be afraid of the gym

“I’ve been on both sides of the fence—overweight at the gym and super fit at the gym,” says Kaelin Tuell Poulin, a fitness pro and creator of the LadyBoss weight loss program. “Over time I’ve learned that, despite what we all think, no one is actually judging you for being there.” Everyone is preoccupied thinking you’re judging them, which creates a giant circle of nonexistent judgment. Just pull up your leggings, put on your headphones and remember you’re there for you and no one else.

Focus on zzz’s

More than a third of U.S. adults are shortchanging themselves on shut-eye. Sleep helps balance your hormones, which tell your body when and where to store fat—and when to burn it. “In addition to the metabolic boost, it gives me more energy for workouts, helps manage my hunger and improves my overall mood,” says Jillian Michaels, a leading fitness expert, mom of two and creator of her own nutrition and exercise app. “On top of eating well and exercising, sleep is the most efficient weight loss habit you can engage in.” Prioritize recovery and shoot for 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly.

Give yourself a boost

“You’re not trying to do a quick fix but you need to jump-start healthy eating habits,” says Brooke Alpert, RD, author of the new book The Diet Detox. She suggests beginning with a week of protein, fiber and fat at every meal, only one daily serving of starch and no alcohol. It might sound harsh, but it’s just a week. Alpert says the results you see and feel will motivate you to make long-term changes you can actually stick to.

Be smart about salt

Sodium triggers water retention and research shows it can also make you hungrier. “I used to down an entire bowl of organic popcorn when I added refined table salt,” says David Friedman, ND, author of Food Sanity. “Then I switched to black Hawaiian volcanic salt and I eat half as much.” (He also likes pink Himalayan salt and Redmond Real Salt.) Regular salt is stripped of many minerals, which can leave cells unsatisfied and create an “internal hunger,” he says. Aim for less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, and choose an unprocessed salt when you do indulge. 

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Set yourself up for weight loss success tomorrow by prepping a bowl of overnight oats and laying out your gym clothes tonight. Speeding up your a.m. routine could be key to making health happen.