Walk for five minutes each dayPablo Rogat/Shutterstock
If getting to the gym on a regular basis feels daunting, try carving out time each day for a five-minute walk instead. “People simply do not move enough,” says Erica Suter, MS, a certified strength-and-conditioning coach. “The smallest actionable steps can go a long way in long-term weight loss” if you do them consistently.
Place a bowl of fruit on your counterOlena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock
Women who store junk food like breakfast cereal on their kitchen counters tend to weigh more than women who don’t—and those who display fruit tend to weigh less, according to a 2015 Cornell University study. All the more reason to swap those sugary, processed snacks for a bowl of apples or oranges on your countertop. “You’re more likely to reach for the healthy stuff when you see it and it looks gorgeous,”
Drink a glass of water before each mealPogorelova/Shutterstock
Feeling hungry? Gulp down some H2O first. “Our bodies often mistake hunger for thirst, triggering you to over-snack when you’re really just thirsty,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, owner of BZ Nutrition. Plus, research shows that drinking water before meals can make you feel fuller, cutting the number of calories you eat. Divide your weight in half and aim to drink that amount of water in ounces each day, Zeitlin says.
Use smaller plates and bowlsNWStock/Shutterstock
When participants in a Pennsylvania State University study received large portions of food, they ate 30 to 50 percent more than those given smaller portions. Plus, they didn’t feel any fuller than participants who ate less. To keep your portions small (and avoid overeating), experts recommend downsizing your dishes. “We serve ourselves more when we use bigger cups, plates, and utensils,” according to Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RDN.
Pair HIIT with strength trainingDean Drobot/Shutterstock
Anyone who is overwhelmed with work, family, and other responsibilities knows how tough it is to fit exercise in. That’s why the best workout routines optimize time and results, according to Suter. She recommends a combination of strength training and high-intensity interval training. “The best part about these two is they do not take long,” she says. Lift heavier weights with fewer sets and reps for an even more efficient cardio workout.
Put a mirror on your fridgePhotographee.eu/Shutterstock
Believe it or not, installing a mirror in your kitchen might help you slim down. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that people who ate with a mirror next to them were less likely to eat fatty foods. Researchers believe that a mirror makes you more aware of what you’re eating, leading you to make healthier choices.
Swap one cup of coffee for green teaMemory Stockphoto/Shutterstock
The next time you need an afternoon pick-me-up, reach for green tea instead of your usual latte. “Green tea is loaded in antioxidants that can help boost your metabolism,” Zeitlin says. “It also helps to flush out excess bloat and have your belly feeling flat and lean.” You can order it hot or iced, but Zeitlin recommends skipping the sweeteners.
Pack a snackFood Mood/Shutterstock
We get one in four of our daily calories from snacks, according to Bazilian. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Research shows that snacking between meals can curb cravings and lower body fat—as long as the snacks are nutritious. If your meals are more than four hours apart, Zeitlin suggests keeping some healthy, nonperishable bites handy: Nuts, bananas, and roasted chickpeas are her go-to choices.
Go to bed five minutes earlierPH888/Shutterstock
Study after study has linked a lack of sleep with overeating and weight gain. “By aiming for seven or more hours of sleep each night, you can stop food cravings before they start and make smarter and healthier food choices throughout the day. Plus, you’ll have more energy to hit the gym,” Zeitlin told Women’s Health. Even hitting the hay just five minutes earlier each night can make a difference; after one week, you will have gotten up to 30 more minutes of rest.
Rearrange your fridge and pantryalexnika/Shutterstock
If sugary, processed treats are front and center when you open the refrigerator or pantry, you will be more tempted to reach for them. Keep healthy staples like nuts and oatmeal close to the front of your pantry, and move fruits and vegetables up to the top shelves of your fridge. Sweets and other goodies should stay toward the back, according to Zeitlin. “When food is out of sight, it’s more likely to be out of mind,” Bazilian says.
Double or triple a recipe’s veggiescasanisa/shutterstock
Veggies are chock-full of fiber, keeping you feeling full between meals and reducing cravings later on, Zeitlin says. To sneak more produce into your meal—without sacrificing flavor—the Kitchn suggests doubling the amount of vegetables called for in any recipe.
Write your workout program in advanceDirima/Shutterstock
Suter recommends taking five minutes to write out your workout program the night before you hit the gym. Not only will you feel more motivated to go the next day, but you can also bang out an effective workout in no time.
Imagine eating moreKucherAV/Shutterstock
While it may seem wacky, imagining how much you want to eat could actually lead you to eat less. According to research published in the journal Science, the act of imagining food can trick your brain into feeling satisfied and leave you less likely to eat more when you actually sit down to indulge.
Plan your meals for the next nine dayscasanisa/Shutterstock
It’s no secret that cooking meals at home will protect your waistline—and your wallet. But if meal prep feels too intimidating, try making a rotation of meals that you can repeat every nine days instead. “When you have a repeating general plan, it makes the planning, shopping, and brainwork so much easier,” according to Bazilian. Nine days is the perfect amount of time for a meal calendar because the cycle won’t become too predictable, she says.
Ask yourself whyArtem Varnitsin/Shutterstock
If Suter’s clients dread going to the gym, she likes to ask them why they exercise in the first place. “Usually the answer is because they always feel more energized,” Suter says. “Always returning to your ‘why’ motivates you to get into the gym.”
Toss the fat-free foodsNarong Khueankaew/Shutterstock
Bad news, dieters: Your favorite fat-free foods might be sabotaging your weight-loss goals. “Fat-free versions are usually loaded in more salt, sugar, or fake sugar to make up for the lack of taste that happens when the natural fat is removed, which will contribute to weight gain—not loss,” Zeitlin says. Spend five minutes clearing your shelves of any fat-free or low-fat items; trust us, your waistline will thank you.
Sniff a bananaAfrica Studio/Shutterstock
Strange as it may sound, smelling “neutral” sweet scents like bananas or green apple can lower your appetite and fool your brain into feeling full. In fact, overweight people who sniffed bananas when they felt hungry lost more weight than those who didn’t, according to a studyat the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Researchers say that vanilla or peppermint scents will also do the trick when hunger strikes.
Pack your workout clothes the night beforeDaria Grebenchuk/Shutterstock
Can’t motivate yourself to exercise in the morning? You’re not alone. Try setting aside five minutes to toss your workout clothes and shoes into a bag the night before. It gets a dreaded task out of the way, and you’ll be one step closer to hitting the gym the next day.
Add fruits and veggies to your plate firstcasanisa/Shutterstock
Most of us pour the cereal or yogurt into our bowls before topping it with fruit. But Bazilian suggests doing it the other way around. “We always overfill the cereal and run out of room for more great berries or sliced banana,” she says. Same goes for vegetables. By reversing the order you put food on your plate, you’ll get a bigger nutritional boost and reduce the number of calories in the meal.
Sip coffee before workoutsNarubas Bangpasert/Shutterstock
A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that sipping a cup of joe before hitting the gym can increase your endurance and energy, as well as jump-start your metabolism, during a workout. Stick to a half cup of drip coffee (with a bit of cream and sugar, if necessary) for the best results.
Count your bitesLStockStudio/Shutterstock
Keeping track of how many bites you take during a meal encourages you to slow down as you eat—a powerful tool for weight loss. “Slowing down gives your body a chance to register when it’s satisfied” and stops you from overeating, Bazilian says. Research even backs this up: After tracking the number of bites they took during each meal for one month, volunteers in a Brigham Young University study lost an average of 3.5 pounds.
Leave your alarm clock across the roomFabrikaSimf/Shutterstock
When it comes to exercising in the morning, “getting out of bed is the hardest part,” says Fit-Bottomed Girls cofounder Walters. She recommends keeping your alarm on the opposite side of the room, which will require you to stand up in order to turn it off in the morning. Once you are out of bed, you will feel much more inspired to hit the gym.
Switch up your utensilsvvoe/Shutterstock
A simple change in your silverware might fool you into eating less, experts say. Bazilian recommends using chopsticks at each meal because they will force you to eat more slowly. Or try using blue plates and utensils; research has found that the color blue can lower your appetite because natural foods like meat and vegetables rarely come in that shade.
Track your progressJacob Lund/Shutterstock
Whether you can jog for 2 miles or 20, recording your progress can keep you motivated—and help you lose weight in the long run. “The more you track, the more you have a benchmark for improving and progressing,” Suter says.
Ask for dressing on the sideMagdanatka/Shutterstock
Salad dressing contains sneaky calories that add up fast. Taking the extra time to ask for dressings and sauces on the side, however, can keep your portions in check. As a good rule of thumb, Zeitlin suggests limiting your intake of dressing, olive oil, or other sauces to one or two tablespoons per meal.
Source: Originally Published on Readers Digest