Finding and maintaining a healthy weight can be an elusive goal. With the abundant access that most of us have to all types of food products that contribute to weight gain, and our modern sedentary lifestyle, being in the shape we want can seem impossible. This is especially true if you want to lose weight fast for an upcoming life event. But while substantial weight loss requires effort and diligence over a long period of time, these tips can help you jump start your weight loss and get you that much closer to your goals.

Drink More Water

Drinking lots of water is definitely the not-so-secret tip for weight loss. Often we can mistake thirst signs for hunger signs, and eat when we are actually thirsty. Water supports the natural detoxification systems of the body, and flushing out toxins helps us shed more fat. Drinking a full glass of water an hour before meals tends to help prevent overeating. Aim to have at least half your body weight (in pounds) as ounces of water each day, and more if you have coffee, tea, or other non-water drinks. Avoid all juices, sodas, and other sources of empty liquid calories. Though adding a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to your water can help with the detoxing while adding a little natural flavor.

Get True Rest

Getting insufficient or poor quality sleep stresses out the nervous system, interferes with digestion, and makes our bodies more likely to hold onto the fat we have or even gain weight. Be sure to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. We rest the deepest in rooms that are completely dark, a little cool, and silent. Do not look at a computer or other device within two hours of bed, and try to go to bed with a mostly empty stomach. And going to bed by 11pm is best to support organ health and detoxification.

Eliminate Sugar and Starches

This is also an important tip for weight loss. Processed sugar and simple carbs like pasta, white rice, white bread, and pastries are some of the biggest culprits in spiking blood sugar, interfering with digestion and metabolism, and causing weight gain. To jumpstart your weight loss efforts, cut out all sources of sugar and simple carbohydrates.

Eat Nothing in a Bag or Box

Along the same lines as sugar, processed food is also not recommended if you want to lose weight. Most processed snack foods are full of preservatives and toxins that make our organs sluggish and increase the bodys toxin load. They also tend to be high in sugar and sodium. Stick to homemade meals as much as you can. And be careful around prepared sauces, dressings, and other condiments; these are often surprise sources of empty calories.

Move More, Sit Less

The old adage of more exercise, less food is famous for a reason. To loose weight we need to burn more calories than we consume. And while you can do a lot by shifting our diets, exercise is important to really lose the weight we want. Adding more movement can be done in a lot of simple ways. Go on walking dates with your loved ones instead of going to a restaurant or a movie. Take stairs instead of elevators. Take a quick jog around the block every hour or so that you are working to both keep your mind clear and your metabolism high.

Lift Weights

While all exercise is helpful for weight loss, strength training is particularly supportive. That is because it increases lean muscle mass and boosts your resting metabolic rate, so you burn more calories all day, every day. And getting tone will help you look even more fit. Plus the extra energy from strength training (after the initial soreness) will give you the boost you need to keep moving.

Eat Big Breakfasts and Small Dinners

The metabolism is strongest earlier in the day, so we can digest larger meals better than in the evening. The metabolism is also very sensitive to whether or not we eat breakfast. Skimping on breakfast depresses the metabolism; if we do not eat a large enough breakfast it can go into a mild version of starvation mode and actually cause our bodies to hold onto fat. Eating a large breakfast boosts the metabolism, and makes us less likely to overeat later in the day especially right before bed, when we want to be eating as little as possible. And always eat sitting down, from a plate or bowl never in your car, on the run, or standing in front of your refrigerator.

Eat More Protein

Sufficient protein is a key factor for weight loss. Eating enough protein can help eliminate sugar cravings, increase the feeling of fullness after your meals, and give you more energy. It also boosts the metabolism, helping you burn as much as 80-100 more calories each day.

Loosing weight is as much science as art, and usually takes time and consistency. But you can speed up the process with these strategies. Taking in fewer calories than you burn, avoiding sugar, getting enough nutrient-rich foods, drinking a lot of water, and getting plenty of quality sleep are all key factors in helping you shed excess pounds fast.