Stress free and painless weight loss – is there such a thing? If you’re desperately trying to squeeze in workouts and avoid your favorite high-calorie treats, it can seem like there’s nothing pain-free about it.
Yet while eating healthier and slipping in exercise does take some work, it really doesn’t have to require heroic effort. Making just a few simple lifestyle changes can pack a big weight loss punch over time. Here are 10 tips on how to lose weight without sweating it too much.
1. Don’t Eat Less, Eat More
If dieting hasn’t worked for you so far, then I say forget it. Try adding foods to your diet instead of subtracting them. People have advocated adding whole foods into your diet but for me, just add the healthy foods that you love.
Add in healthy goodies you really love, like deep-red cherries, juicy grapes, or crunchy snow peas. Slip those favorite fruits into your bag lunch and breakfast cereal; add the veggies into soups, stews, and sauces.
Research has shown that adding healthier food to your diet really works while taking away food or restricting yourself of food only helps short term. Coined the yo-yo dieting trap, this on and off dieting does not help.
2. Forget About Calling it “Exercise” or a “Workout”
If the word “exercise” inspires you to creative avoidance, then avoid it. Maybe the trick to enjoying a workout may be to never call it working out.
There is a psychological truth behind this. Once you label ‘exercise’ and start calling something a plan, a regiment, etc, you really have it stuck in your head that it’s a “chore”. Try to just avoid calling anything that would cause stress and annoyance in your head and you’ll really start to be more active.
So burn calories and invigorate muscles by beach-combing, riding bikes, grass skiing, making snow angels, hiking, washing the car, playing Frisbee, chasing the dog around the yard, or even enjoying great sex.
3. Go Walking
Walking when the weather’s nice is a super-easy way to keep fit. Enjoy the seasons, smell the air, look at the gorgeous scenery around you. Whenever you have a short time, go out for a few minutes – a five minute walk is a 5 minute walk and that is an additional five minutes of helping you lose calories that you were not doing before.
What? No sidewalks in your neighborhood? Try these tips for slipping in more steps:
- Trade your power mower for a push version.
- Park your car at the back of the lot.
- Get out of the office building and enjoy walking meetings.
- Sweep the drive or rake the leaves instead of using a leaf-blower.
- Get off the bus a few stops earlier.
- Hike the mall, being sure to hit all the levels.
- Take the stairs every chance you get.
Sign up for charity walks.
- Crank the music and get your heart rate up the next time you mop or vacuum.
It all adds up. If you walk twice a day for 10 minutes and try a few of these tips, you may find yourself with a low-impact, 30-minute workout easily tucked under your belt.
4. Go “Light” on the Foods You Love
One of the easiest ways to cut back without feeling denied is to switch to lower-calorie versions of the foods you crave. A pizza tastes just as good with reduced-fat cheese, and when you garnish low-fat ice cream with your favorite toppers, who notices those missing calories?
And while you’re trimming fat calories, keep an eye on boosting fiber. Fiber helps you feel satisfied longer, so while you lighten family favorites, you can easily amp up the fiber by adding a cup of whole wheat flour to your pizza dough, or toss a handful of red bell peppers on the pie.
Don’t forget to lighten the drinks going with that meal. Try switching from high-calorie favorites to diet soda or light beer, or maybe add a spritz of seltzer to your wine.
Hate low-cal drinks? Mix your preferred drinks with a splash of the low-cal option, then increase the ratio as your taste buds adjust. And don’t forget to keep pouring that ultimate beverage – water!
5. Because Hydration Helps — Really!
Down some water before a meal and you won’t feel so famished. Drinking a glass of water before a meal helps watch what you eat – you don’t feel like hogging everything since you won’t be hungry.
For all you compulsive snackers out there, it’s a great idea to keep no-calorie beverages at hand. Whenever you feel like snacking, down a beverage – it will keep your mouth busy you will less snack on junk food.
Going to a party? Grab a low-cal drink in one hand and keep it there. Not only does it make it harder to graze the buffet, but you’ll also be less tempted to sip endless cocktails, too.
Finally, keeping your body refreshed with plenty of water may also help your workout. Staying hydrated means you can exercise more, and longer, than if you don’t drink water.
6. Share Everything
With the massive meals served at so many American restaurants, it’s easy share. Share everything – split a dessert, the main course or even a pint of beer. That way, you don’t feel stuffed and you save some money too.
You can share more than just a meal out. Why not double up on a bicycle built for two? Go halves on the cost of a personal trainer? Maybe split a gym membership?
When you’re trying to eat better or get more exercise, you can be more successful if you do it with a partner or group. Try being part of a community, a partnership, whether online or in person, it really helps.
As the saying goes – twice the motivation, without twice the effort — a steal of a deal. Ok, I just made that up.
7. Turn on the TV and Turn up the Heat
The American Heart Association knows what we love: television. And they also know we need to get more exercise. So why not combine the two, they ask?
Try dancing to the music when you tune into your favorite music show, or practice some stress-relieving cardio boxing when your least favorite reality contestant is on camera.
During commercials pedal your stationery bike, walk the treadmill, or slip in a little strength training doing bicep curls with cans of your favorite fizzy beverage as weights. Or get inspired to really focus: Put in a high-energy exercise DVD and get motivated by the pros onscreen.
It doesn’t matter exactly what you do, so long as you’re up and active. Aim for at least 15 minutes, says the AHA. But who knows? If you get really engrossed, you just might outlast the last survivor.
8. Dinnerware Size Matters
Eating less without feeling denied can be easily achieved – just choose the right dinnerware.
That’s because while a small portion served on a large plate can leave you craving more, a smaller plate gives the visual signal that you already have more. We know we’ve had enough because we see the bottom of our bowl or plate. A smaller plate full of food just feels more satisfying than a large plate with that same amount of food on it.
And don’t forget smaller bowls, cups, and spoons. For example, try savoring a bowl of ice cream with a baby spoon. Not only does the pleasure last longer, but your body has time to register the food you’ve eaten.
9. Get Involved
When your weight loss efforts lead to boredom or too much self-focus, get occupied with something else. People tend to eat more if they’re bored and especially if they’re in front of the TV.
So take a break from the siren-call of the tube, and get occupied with things that have nothing to do with food.
For some, that might mean becoming involved with local politics, discovering yoga, or enjoying painting. Or maybe you want to help a child with a science project, repaint the bedroom, or take a class. The key is to have a life outside of weight loss.
What? You’re already busy enough? Then at least eat your meals at the table. The TV is distracting, and you cannot possibly be conscious of eating. When you’re at the table, with a place setting, you’re much more aware of what you’re eating.
10. Lose It Today, Keep It Off Tomorrow
Finally, be patient. While cultivating that virtue isn’t exactly painless, it may help to know that keeping weight off generally gets easier over time. Researchers have found that for people who had lost at least 30 pounds — and kept it off for at least two years — maintaining that weight loss required less effort as time went on.
So if you crave the results reported by successful “losers” like these — improved self-confidence, a boost in mood, and better health — cultivate patience. You may find your way to sweet (and nearly painless) weight loss success.
11. Bonus Tips
If 10 tips for stress-free, painless weight loss (or maintenance) aren’t enough, how about trying some of these other ideas?
- Eat at the same times every day (including snacks). Sure you can’t do this all the time, but some people find that knowing when to expect their next meal or snack makes them a lot less likely to graze. Our body appreciates rhythms, from seasons to tides, so why not give it what it craves?
- Make only one meal. Instead of making something high-cal for the family and low-cal for yourself, get everyone on the same healthy-eating page. Weight loss and maintenance is easier when everyone’s eating the same thing — and you’re not tempted to taste someone else’s calorie-dense food.
- Remember that little things add up. So keep eating a little fruit here, some veggies there, continue grabbing 10 minute walks between meetings. Weight loss is a journey guided by your unique needs, so hook into what works for you — and do it!