Don’t freak out, but we’re nearly a full month into 2015. The beginning of a new year always brings with it particularly lofty goals that would serve to help us to lose weight if only they weren’t too large to attain. Instead, try making simple changes without overhauling your entire lifestyle. According to clinical psychologist Ben G. Adams, the author of “The Creative Process Diet,” the best way to make changes is to do so gradually, rather than all at once. Adams says, “Changing gradually is more effective because it gives the psyche the space it needs to adjust to any changes we initiate. Also,” he adds, “the real magic is that when we make even just one very small, subtle lifestyle change, we initiate a chain reaction within the psyche whereby other desired changes begin to automatically occur.”
To get you on the right track for this domino effect of sorts, we caught up with fitness and nutrition experts to find out the simple swaps they recommend for their clients. Start with just a few and see where they take you. Happy 2015!
Treat Your Feet Right
Start the year off with new shoes, says celebrity trainer Teddy Bass, whose clients include Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate. “Get checked to ensure you have the correct support, since the feet are the most important part of the body’s alignment,” he adds.
Opt for Organized Exercise
“Add a class to your weekly regimen so you have more motivated people around,” says Bass. During a yoga, spinning, or Pilates class, you’re less likely to surrender when the workout moves venture out of your comfort zone.
Get a Goal
As long as the goal is attainable, it’s in your interest to set one. “Goals set equals desires reached,” says Bass. “Make a workout plan so you don’t waste time.” Start with something as simple as learning to do a pushup or as advanced as signing up for your first half marathon.
First off, when you have to keep track you’re less likely to cheat. Second, “keeping track of a lifestyle change is very powerful because it ritualizes our behavior and helps us to really metabolize the fact that we have deliberately initiated the subtle process of self-transformation,” says Adams. “Also, it gives us that all-important sense of accomplishment, which inspires the psyche to keep going and to continue to transform itself from within.”
“Eat your meal in order of lowest calorie to highest calorie,” says Carrington Farms Health and Nutrition Consultant Deborah Levy, MS, RD. “Start with veggies, then move on to lean protein. By the time you reach the rich, starchy carbs, you will be feeling nice and full,” so you’ll eat less of those foods.
Upgrade Your Coffee
Levy recommends adding one tablespoon of coconut oil to your coffee every morning. “[It] can help to stabilize blood sugar levels, curb cravings, and prevent those spikes and dips in energy levels that occur throughout the day,” she says. Pure, unrefined oil, like Carrington Farms Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, works best.
Close the Kitchen
“Shut down the kitchen for 12 hours a day,” says fat loss coach and founder of Fit Mom Revolution, Julie Stubblefield. “Ideally, there should be 12 hours between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the next.”
“Change your cardio to sprint style,” says Stubblefield. When the days get shorter, focus even more heavily on interval workouts. Instead of plugging away for 30 minutes on a cardio machine, shorten it to about 10-12 minutes—sprint for 30-45 seconds, then slow down for recovery. Repeat the cycle for 10 minutes and finish with a slow cool down. “This increases the volume of work completed in a shorter amount of time in addition to helping you burn fat instead of just losing weight,” Stubblefield explains.
Relax Before You Eat
A simple way to boost your metabolism is with oxygen. “Whenever you prepare to eat, first take several deep, conscious breaths to relax your body and mind and to prime your digestive fire with oxygen,” says nutrition and weight loss coach Jena la Flamme. “As you continue to pay attention to breathing deeply and staying present with the experience of eating, you will become more relaxed, and the more relaxed you are, the more sensitized to pleasure you become.” This will cause you to be satisfied sooner and to eat less. Your metabolism will also rev up as a result of that relaxation.
Get Up and Out
Personal trainer Cassie Piasecki recommends adding a fast 30 minute “Rev Up” workout (a run, bike, even a walk down the street) to the beginning of each day. “It’s an extra workout on top of your regular workout,” says Piasecki. “An extra 200-calorie workout is important for the little push for weight loss. Do it everyday and that’s 1,400 extra calories [per week].” She also adds that it clears your mind, increases your energy, boosts your metabolism, gives you a sense of accomplishment, and can even be a great boost of vitamin D. Furthermore, Piasecki says, “Should your day get away from you and your regular workout plan gets shoved, at least you still got your Rev Up in!”
Drink More Water
“Water is essential for your body and helps flush out waste,” says ISSA Trainer and ReebokONE Ambassador Elspeth Dana. “Aim for at least eight 8 oz glasses a day, more if you’re active and working out.” Carry a water bottle with you at all times.
Ditch the Negative Self Talk
“Work out and be healthy because you love your body, not because you hate it,” says Dana. “When you love and appreciate your body, that’s when you truly shine.” Choose a simple exercise that you enjoy and can commit to.
Fire the Maid
Simple chores around the house can do way more than just make the hubby happy. “Sweep your driveway, patio, or floors everyday,” says lifestyle coach Tafiq Akhir. “This will stimulate the muscles of your entire body and will also promote back strength, core stability, and good posture.” He also recommends hand washing and drying your dishes. “By standing up and moving just that little bit after a meal, it helps with the digestion of your food. It also allows the body to use the energy you get from the food you’ve just eaten.”
Skip the Drive-Thru
“Walk into your bank or pharmacy to increase blood flow and muscle tone in your legs,” says Akhir. “Standing in line, with good posture, can also help increase lower back strength.”
Start With a Stretch
Begin every morning with a 5-minute stretch, Akhir recommends: “This will help bring your entire body to life. You will loosen up stiff muscles and joints, increase blood flow, and stimulate brain function.” Your body will thank you.
Read more: 20 Things We Should All Start Doing in 2015