Finding what works for you is key for long-lasting weight loss. “There is no quick fix!” says Mara Schiavocampo, a correspondent for Good Morning America and author of the new book Thinspired: How I Lost 90 Pounds—My Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Self-Acceptance. “I learned that losing weight and maintaining it involves a complete lifestyle overhaul. It changes everything, from what you eat, to when you sleep, to who you hang out with.”
In the book, Schiavocampo shares her “magic formula” for long-lasting weight loss: 70% Food + 10% Exercise + 10% Planning + 10% Sleep. She came up with it after having a few epiphanies during her journey. (Clearly she’s on to something—she dropped six dress sizes.) Check them out:
Know Your Vices
Schiavocampo started struggling with her weight in childhood and considers herself a food addict—with flour as her crack. So now she avoids temptations like pizza and doughnuts altogether. “I learned that for me, I could not eat certain foods in moderation, ever,” she says. “I know many other people share the same problem.” Complete elimination of foods you love is hard—and could backfire—but if you want to give it a try: “Set a small goal, like a week,” Schiavocampo says. “Once you’ve reached it, set another one. Over time, your habits will change and you’ll have fewer cravings for your poisons.”
Have Fun, and Work Hard
In the past, exercise meant going through the motions and barely breaking a sweat for Schiavocampo. But while getting back in shape after having her daughter, she discovered SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp and started to enjoy herself while working out, even though she was doing killer workouts. Once she starting seeing results (muscle tone! energy!), her goal shifted from getting thin to getting fit.
And don’t let the low percentage for exercise in her formula fool you. Schiavocampo works out most days—but tells herself that it has nothing to do with her weight loss. The mental trick helps her in two ways: “For one, it keeps me from eating back what I’ve burned off, because I’m not factoring it in,” she says. “It also forces me to focus on the other benefits of exercise, like stress release, energy and fun!”
Each night, Schiavocampo plans out what she’s going to eat the next day and when she’s going to work out, and packs her gym bag. It’s also helpful to think about any obstacles that are standing in your way, she advises, and schedule around them. “If grabbing after-work cocktails with your girlfriends always throws you off track, you may need to give that up and start meeting them for breakfast instead,” she says. Or a workout! (Here’s why working out is the new going out.)
Make Sleep a Priority
Don’t get caught up in the idea that sleep deprivation is a badge of honor that proves how important or busy you are. After reading research about how not sleeping enough could derail weight-loss efforts, Schiavocampo put sleep on her list and made it a priority. The trick: Instead of feeling lazy or guilty about sleeping, give yourself permission to get as much as you need, she advises.