So you’ve just finished another fad diet and exercise program with little or no weight loss, fat loss or waistline reduction. Don’t give up. Weight management and better health take a lifetime commitment. Don’t set yourself up to crash and burn with promises of fast results and drastic changes. Instead, improve your health one easy lifestyle change at a time and see long-term results.
Stop taking the elevator. Pretend that Archimedes never invented that pesky lift for animals and gladiators at the Coliseum. Whether you’re in your office building, the doctor’s office or any other multi-level structure, forget that the elevator exists and find the stairs. Consider that, according to WebMD Fit-O-Meter, a 140-pound person will burn about six calories standing in an elevator for five minutes, but 42 calories walking up stairs in the same amount of time. That’s seven times the calories burned. Start with one or two flights of stairs and gradually work your way up, up, up until you never need an elevator again.
Feed the garbage can. Remember how your mother insisted you eat every bite on your plate? Now is a good time to rebel. Learn to leave food on your plate or in the package every time you eat to help prevent so that you don’t overeat. At breakfast, lunch and dinner, save five bites of food for the trash can. If you’re eating an apple, leave five bites on the core. Eating a bag of chips? Leave five whole chips in the bag. You get the idea. By allowing yourself to waste food, you are not compelled to overeat just because you have food in front of you.
Go for distance. According to Harvard Medical School studies, walking at least 30 minutes per day reduces the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke. Study after study supports additional benefits of walking, including weight loss and reduced risk for high blood pressure and diabetes. Add steps to your day by parking further away from the office or by printing to the furthest printer. Stop driving short distances (less than a mile) to the store or park. WebMD Fit-O-Meter indicates that walking at work for 5 minutes burns 16 calories for a 140-pound person. That same person can walk at 2.5 mph for 15 minutes and burn 48 calories. All of those steps add up throughout the day to help you achieve your weight-loss goals.
See through your drink. Swap out your soda and sweetened teas for clear drinks: water, club soda, seltzer, mineral water, and unsweetened tea. Unsweetened coffee is acceptable, too, in moderation. No sugar, even in your coffee?! It’s up to you, but you should consider that a single sugar packet contains 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates with no nutritional value. You can do it. Start off by replacing your sweetened lunch drink with unsweetened ice tea flavored with lemon. Then, replace your dinner soda with a glass of ice water and have some unsweetened herbal tea before bed. Change your beverage tastes one drink at a time until you’re totally off the sugary stuff.
Add Small Snacks. Small mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks can help manage hunger so that you don’t overeat at meals. Consider adding in a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack, such as an apple or some nuts. Just stay away from the vending machine, which usually offers up high-calorie snacks with little nutritional value.
Use Your Hand as a Guide. Proper diet and nutrition is not only about what you eat, but how much you eat. When portioning your food, don’t eat any portion larger than your hand. If you have to splurge, eat extra vegetables. Better Homes and Gardens suggests that your hand can help you estimate a cup of beverage, soup, salad and cereal. Meat should be about the size of your palm. If you need to add butter, peanut butter or another fat, you should limit it to half of your thumb.
Stick a Fork in the Couch. There’s no excuse to just sit there because you want to watch TV or play on your smartphone. Get up off the couch. Consider this: A 140-pound person sitting and watching TV for about an hour burns about 32 calories according to the WebMD Fit-O-Meter. If that same person stands to watch TV, they’ll burn 38 calories. If they walk on the treadmill at 3 mph, they will triple that calorie burn, and a stair-step machine will burn 286 calories.