You’ve heard the statistics on how America is the most obese country in the world. In recent years, the pressure to be thin has been replaced with encouraging ways to become healthy in body and mind. While that includes maintaining a safe weight so you don’t put your health at risk — type 2 diabetes is often a major concern — adopting a wellness-based mentality that replaces diets with lifestyle changes can help you maintain your progress for the long term. Here’s some advice on how to lose weight with a wellness-based approach.

Find a Workout That Doesn’t Feel Like a Chore
Considering 80 percent of American adults aren’t getting the required amount of weekly exercise (2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity each week), it’s no surprise that it’s not on everyone’s top-10 list of things to do. But if you want to maintain optimal physical and mental health, you’ll have to get enough exercise, though you don’t have to follow the latest fitness trend to see results. There are theories that suggest individuals dislike working out because they feel forced into an activity. It’s best to simply do something you enjoy—even if that’s taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes every day. Think about other things you get pleasure from in life, such as dancing or hanging out with your friends. Next, see how that can translate into a workout like Zumba or a team-based sport. Another option is to incorporate yoga into your life. This is one practice with many variations, so you could start with gentle yoga like hatha to get a feel for it and eventually work your way up to the more intense vinyasa. The beauty of yoga is that it can help keep your muscles loose and it can be practiced from home, though when you’re starting out it’s best to get a few classes in so you have someone monitoring your form.

Eat to Live, Don’t Live to Eat
While you may want to consult a nutritionist to see if you have any specific dietary needs, there’s something to be said for going back to the basics and eating a diet that’s built off the principles of the food pyramid—the original one, not something derived as a part of a fad diet. To make it easier to accept that leafy greens, fruits, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains trump processed and restaurant foods, adopt the 80/20 rule and eat healthy 80 percent of the time and allow yourself to splurge the remaining 20 percent. Not only can this approach help you shed pounds, but it can make it easier to keep the weight off permanently and help you avoid developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Fortunately, Medicare now offers classes to help people develop healthy habits to avoid getting diabetes.

Get Enough Shut-Eye
The time you take to rest is just as important as the time you spend working out and eating right. In fact, research suggests that 74 percent of people who get a good night’s sleep found it easier to lose weight, while 82 percent said it was easier to stick to a healthy routine. Scientific evidence proves that lack of sleep can sabotage weight-loss efforts due to an increase in cortisol (stress hormone) that surfaces as weight gain in the midsection, additional weight due to insulin resistance, and an increase in cravings. Not to mention, sleep deprivation makes it difficult to find the motivation to work out. Establish a routine bedtime and stick to it. If you have problems falling asleep a bit earlier, consider listening to soothing music, plugging in an essential oil-based diffuser that promotes relaxation, wearing an eye mask, or taking a warm bath before bed.

Don’t Be Afraid to See a Therapist
It’s not uncommon for excess weight to be tied to some form of a mental health issue such as trauma (abuse, both physical and emotional), depression, addiction, or a combination thereof. In this case, it can be helpful to see a therapist who can help you work through the emotions that you’re associating with food. It’s unlikely that any plan—wellness based or otherwise—will work without getting to the root of the problem.

One of the most rewarding ways to see how all your hard effort has paid off is by tracking your progress—but not with a scale. Cues such as improved mobility and sleep quality, increased strength and endurance, a decrease in stress, and increase in mood are all telltale signs that you’re on the right path. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat, so how you look and feel is more important than the number on the scale.