By Erika, Pure Matters

I’m always reading about “quick and easy” diets that promise to get me back into those size six jeans within weeks. It’s hard not to fall for the latest, trendiest, lose-weight-fast diet, but dropping weight quickly can be unhealthy and the weight loss harder to maintain. Healthy ways to lose weight usually take time and a commitment to changes in lifestyle.

The typical recommendation for healthy weight loss is one to two pounds per week. This may not seem like much, but you’re more likely to keep the weight off long term if you take a slow, consistent approach to altering your diet. Some diets have an initial period that includes more rapid weight loss that slows down after the first couple of weeks, which can be a safe strategy as well. A more extreme rapid weight loss diet should be conducted only if working closely with a healthcare practitioner.

Here are a few healthy and sustainable ways to lose weight:

Portion control
Start paying attention to how much you’re eating. I used to think a chicken breast, rice, and a vegetable made up a healthy meal; however, I was serving myself a whole chicken breast, a pile of rice, and a little scoop of veggies. Then I found out that one serving for me should be two to three ounces of cooked chicken breast (about a half a breast, without the skin), half a cup of cooked rice, and half a cup of cooked vegetables. Now I serve myself a half a chicken breast, a tiny scoop of rice (brown rice, if I can convince my husband to go for that), and a big scoop of steamed veggies. I invested in a food scale so that I could weigh meat -- this helped give me a better understanding of serving sizes. When out at a restaurant, you can either ask the waiter to doggy bag half of your meal before serving it or split it in half when it arrives and don’t touch one half. 

Do the math
Throughout my 20s, I rolled my eyes at friends who counted calories. Keeping track of calories seemed like a great way to ruin every meal. Now, in my mid-thirties, I realize that this is a crucial part of losing weight (or maintaining a healthy weight). Counting calories is one way to keep track of how much you can eat each day. It has helped me realize that if I do decide to have the meatball sandwich for lunch, I need to have a light salad with dressing on the side for dinner. Some of my friends use calorie-counting apps like Calorie Tracker by LIVESTRONG.COM or Calorie Counter by FatSecret, which work well. I’ve been a member of Weight Watchers online for the past two months and they have a point system that I use to keep track of how much I can eat. It has been an eye-opening experience for me to learn how many calories made up some of the foods I used to eat regularly. I’m hoping that I’ll get used to the lighter serving sizes and not have to count so often once I’ve settled into this lifestyle.

I know… this one seems obvious. However, I would like to point out that the weight you lose should consist of fat, not water or lean tissue. Make sure you’re losing the right stuff by setting up a regular exercise plan for yourself. Whether you’re taking a 30-minute walk five days a week or hitting the gym for weight training, spinning, or a yoga class, every bit of activity helps. Increase your exercise goals over time, to continue challenging yourself. Supplements can also support healthy weight management -- Pure Matters Be Lean contains a patented weight management aid that may support a healthy, lean body mass.

It’s okay to cheat once in a while
Allow yourself one day a week to relax your dieting rules a bit. Eat that dessert or entrée you’ve been craving or enjoy a Saturday afternoon barbecue without breaking out your calorie calculator. If you’ve been dreaming of a bowl of real ice cream for the past three weeks, reward yourself for meeting your exercise goals and swing by Ben & Jerry’s. Just try to cheat in moderation -- go for a scoop of your favorite flavor instead of ordering the extra large brownie sundae.