Of course you should have a basic understanding of calories if you’re trying to slim down. After all, when it comes down to it, losing weight is basically about taking in fewer calories than you burn, whether it’s by eating less, exercising more, or a combination of the two. That said, it’s also important to not get totally wrapped up in the numbers game. Not only is it annoying (the math! the obsession!), it’s also not super sustainable (what do you do if you’re at a restaurant without calorie counts or want to eat the dip at a friend’s party?).
In the long run, the better way to lose weight and keep it off is by making health-focused changes to your lifestyle, rather than focusing only on calories. With that in mind, we rounded up seven ways to slim down that don’t involve tallying your totals. Follow these tips for long-term success.
Get More Sleep
Call it the lazy girl’s guide to losing weight. All you have to do is get under the covers more often. Seriously! A study from the journal Appetite found that people who do so tend to eat less than those who put Zzz’s on the back burner. The likely reason is that sleep deprivation may alter your brain and makes you crave higher-cal foods. Also, be sure your room is dark: An American Journal of Epidemiology study found that women who sleep in lighter rooms tend to weigh more than those who sleep in the dark.
Eat With Your BFFs
Yep, this is actual weight loss advice. We kid you not! It’s based on another study from Appetite that found people who have meaningful conversations with others they care about at dinner typically weigh less than those who eat in front of the TV. The logic’s pretty simple: Chatting with friends and family makes you feel loved and therefore less likely to seek out comfort in other places, like the pizza box.
We can’t say it enough: Drink more water—especially if you’re trying to lose weight. First, it helps you stay hydrated, which means you’re less likely to mistake dehydration for hunger and eat when you don’t need to. And second, it’s calorie-free—so drinking it means you’re not drinking other higher-calorie beverages, like soda and juice.
Take It Outside
A study in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that people who exercise outside at least some of the time are generally more active than indoor-only exercisers. And luckily, you’ve got a plethora of summertime activities at your disposal. Just check out these outdoor workouts.
Use Red Plates
Something as simple as plate color choice can help you lose weight—seriously! A study from Appetite found that volunteers who ate from red plates consumed less than those who ate from white or blue dishes. That’s probably because we tend to associate the color red with stopping, so your brain may subconsciously tell you that you’re finished with your meal earlier.
Steer Clear of Temptations When Your Willpower is Low
A British and Australian study showed that the best secret to slimming down is the ability to resist temptation. And another study found that the easiest way to do that is to avoid putting yourself in tempting situations when you know your willpower is low (like if you’re tired or had a super stressful day at work and just feel a snack attack coming on). Need some help learning how to avoid temptation? Check out these seven ways to remove willpower from your healthy-eating equation.