Losing weight can seem like a huge task- but it doesnít have to involve marathon workouts and deprivation. Recent studies have shown that taking small steps and making slight tweaks to your lifestyle is the key to successful, long-term weight loss, helping you to make smaller but more lasting changes that will benefit your overall health.
By focusing on a couple of small
changes at a time, you can start to develop healthy habits that after a while
will become second nature. In the long run, this is far more beneficial than
trying an all-or-nothing approach that is harder to follow and sustain.
Try following some of these simple steps and enjoy feeling fresher, brighter and healthierÖ
Keep a record
Writing down what you eat each day has enormous benefits- studies have even suggested that people who keep a food journal lose twice as much weight as those who do not. The main reason is that it makes you more aware of what youíre actually consuming, rather than just what you plan to consume. By keeping a record of what you eat and when, you can start to identify patterns and figure out what your triggers and problem times are. Youíll also notice where all your calories are coming from- those mindless snacks suddenly become more real when you can see the impact written down!
Get up during ad breaks
When youíre watching TV, jump up during the ad breaks and do something active. It doesnít matter what it is- jog in place, or do some jumping jacks or sit ups. If you do a little bit of exercise in each ad break throughout an hour-long TV show, youíll probably be getting in at least a 20-minute work out. And because itís split up into two to five minute chunks, it wonít feel too arduous.
Wear a pedometer
Studies have shown that people who wear a pedometer to end up taking an average of 2,500 extra steps each day. You can usually buy a basic pedometer for around $10, so pick on up and get in the habit of wearing it. Youíll be more aware of how much youíre actually walking and get your step count up in no time. Aim for at least 10,000 steps a day- if you have a mostly sedentary job, adding in half an hour of walking during the day should get you up to that level.
Limit Ďbadí foods to once a week
Whether itís pizza, chocolate or chips, we all have that one indulgence that we canít live without. Cutting it out entirely can seem impossible, so to start with, focus on reducing it. If you usually eat chocolate five times a week, for example, try cutting down to three times, then the next week two times, and finally just once a week as a special treat. By reducing your intake gradually youíll have time to get used to eating other snacks and finding different ways to satisfy your cravings- and youíll still get to cheat once in a while without feeling too guilty.
Make your coffee skinny
Itís easy to forget how many calories a single cup of coffee
can be adding to your daily calorie total. The trouble is that popular coffee
franchises and chains give us so many options for delicious flavours, toppings
and extras, that we can easily be adding on hundreds of extra calories without
realising it. A normal cup of coffee on its own isnít so bad- in fact, small
amounts of caffeine can help boost your metabolism, so donít feel too bad about
starting your day with a wake-up cup. But to lose weight and stay healthy, you need
to get into the habit of having your coffee plain, with skinny milk, and a
small amount (if any) of sugar. You can save hundreds of calories- which makes
a real difference in the long term.
Walk five minutes more
Increasing your daily activity levels by even just a few minutes at a time can help you to lose weight. Your goal should really be to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, but you can start by increasing your exercise time in small amounts. It doesnít all have to be at once either- you can do a couple of short five to ten minute sessions spread throughout the day, and youíll be burning calories without even realising it. Go for a walk at lunchtime, or make an effort to get up just ten minutes earlier for a brisk morning stroll. Youíll feel fresher and brighter, and it will wake up your body to get you burning fat faster.
Sign up for diet newsletters
Receiving fitness and healthy eating
tips in your email inbox each day gives you a little motivational boost,
helping to remind you of your goals and keep you on track. Sign up to a few
quality newsletters and youíll feel like you have your own personal diet coach
offering information and advice to help you reach your goals each day. Youíll
learn more about how your body works, and might get new ideas for different
exercises and meals to try. Even if you already know some of the information
you get, having it reinforced will help you to keep it in mind throughout the
day. One recent study suggested that people who received weekly diet and
fitness emails significantly increased their levels of exercise and intake of
healthy foods over a period of sixteen weeks.
No matter what sort of exercise you do, you can give your weight loss an extra kick by adding in some form of interval training. This means alternating short bursts of full-speed, intense exercise with slower recovery periods. Whether you run, cycle, row, or swim, you can use this principle to speed up your fat burning- and often, make your workouts shorter and more efficient. The most common type of interval training is the Tabata method, which involves 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times. In just four minutes you can get a great workout. Of course, you donít have to follow such a strict plan- just use the basic idea of alternating fast bursts and more moderately paced sessions, and youíll notice a difference.
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