First, when you decide to satisfy a craving, take time to enjoy the food and don't feel guilty about it. For foods you can't stop eating once you get started, try having them only in situations where the portion is controlled. For instance, eat them at a restaurant or buy single-serving items rather than a whole package. Most weight maintainers say that they avoid buying highly tempting foods but that if they do have such foods around, they keep them out of sight and therefore out of mind.
“Every morning I drink a cup of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and a dash of cayenne pepper,” says Michelle Keough. This helps her start her day off on a healthy note while getting her hydrated after a long night. This trick, combined with eating meals built around protein and veggies, helped her lose 20 pounds and keep it off.
You might feel silly, but it works. When Alan R. Hirsch, MD, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, tried this with 3,000 volunteers, he found that the more frequently people sniffed, the less hungry they were and the more weight they lost—an average of 30 pounds each. One theory is that sniffing the food tricks the brain into thinking you’re actually eating it.
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Most likely, though, you've just hit a plateau, which is a fancy way of saying your body has adjusted to your lower calorie intake. To bust out of it, you need to change your workout by exercising longer or more intensely. "Cutting calories could also work, but it's not advisable to consume fewer than 1,500 calories a day because it's extremely difficult to fulfill all your nutrient needs," Sass says.
Stress makes you feel crummy all around, and can also take a toll on your weight. The stress hormone cortisol has been shown to make you hungrier, drive cravings for junk food, and make your body cling to belly fat. One Ohio State University study also revealed that stress may cause your body to burn fewer calories. Here are five smart strategies for controlling stress-induced weight gain.