We’re not necessarily lazy, but the idea of waking up at the crack of dawn to run a few laps around the neighborhood sounds, well, exhausting. Don’t get us wrong — getting in your cardio is essential to maintaining your health. But before you splurge for a trainer or sign up for a grueling marathon, make these simple every day changes instead. With a few workouts thrown in throughout the week as well, you’ll be on your way to dropping the pounds.
Track Your Intake (And What You Burn)
Writing down what you eat makes you more accountable for your food choices. But keeping a food journal feels so monotonous. Nowadays apps do the work for you. “Get an app that tracks both what goes in and goes out,” says Dr. Jamé Heskett, Founder/Medical Director of The Wellpath. She recommends Lose It. The app sets a caloric deficit for the day based on how much weight you want to lose every week. This prevents from you from entering starvation mode, therefore slowing down their metabolism. “Even if not much is going out, this is good for perspective by showing the person how much more they could eat if they just burned a few hundred calories.” And if you hate the idea of logging every bite, Dr. Wannen has an easy solution. “Keep three breakfasts that you like, three lunches you like, three dinners you like and three snacks that you like. Rotate these for one month and then replace them for subsequent months with three favorites of each.”
Use a Smaller Plate
Simply can’t track it all? “I like to say if you aren’t going to calorie count, just take the normal amount of food you would eat and cut it in half once it’s on your plate,” says Dr. Wannen. “It’s the same concept because it forces the person to gain ‘perspective’ on the difference between what they are currently eating and what they should be eating.”
Get in Your Zzz’s
The less you sleep, the slower your metabolism. Everyone should aim for eight hours a night. “For every one hour less than that, you burn 10% less calories per day.” Low on sleep, the body is not able to properly metabolize carbohydrates, leading to higher blood sugar levels and an increased level of insulin. This hormone cues the body to store unused energy as fat. Not enough zzzz’s also causes an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which signals the body to eat more.
Eliminate the Bloat
The fastest way to slim down? Eliminate bloating. Although it can be caused by your menstrual cycle or poor digestion, a common culprit is what you eat. Sodium, processed foods, carbonated drinks and overeating all cause your stomach to bulge. “But if someone is having bloating from gas and not water retention, they should definitely take a probiotic.” In the form of a capsule, a probiotic is a bacteria that reduces the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines, promoting a healthy digestive system. “Abnormalities in the digestive bacteria have been linked to obesity.”
Stand Up Straight
It’s as simple as that. Standing up straight allows you to build and strengthen your abdominals and back muscles. More muscle, more calorie burn. It also allows you to breathe better, stimulating the metabolism, so again you burn more calories. “Definitely training your internal obliques to suck in goes a long way to looking slimmer and keeping your belly flat as you get older,” says Dr. Wannen. “I recommend isometric internal oblique exercises to all of my clients wanting a flat belly. If they are toned, it is an easy way to lose an inch off your belly. How to: When you are lying down in bed, suck in your abdomen as strongly as you can. Hold for as long as you can and then release. Repeat 10 times daily. When that becomes easy, increase the time you are contracting the muscle and the number of reps. Continue this practice throughout the day when you think of it and you will notice your belly will be smaller.”
Drink Your Water
“If you are not drinking enough water, your liver has to do the work of the kidneys. If the liver is busy working for the kidneys, it won’t be efficient at metabolizing fat.” You’ve heard the rule about drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Strive for this goal, but most importantly, listen to your body. You’ll know when you need more.
Nix Any Food in a Box
“Fresh food will satisfy your nutrient needs and when your nutrient needs are met, the body will be less hungry.” Most processed foods are packed full of empty calories so it takes more food to feel satisfied. Plus, with all that sodium, we’re back to bloating.