We've all been there – that point in our lives when we feel as though we've reached our maximum laziness, worst diet ever and highest weight on record. And then it continues to get worse.
While there is no miraculous way to lose extra weight overnight (man, could you imagine that?!), there are some easy ways to make simple changes in your diet and lifestyle that can make worlds of difference to both your weight and your overall health. The best news of all is that it will take minimal effort on your part to make these easy changes, so let's get to it!
Use Smaller Plates
When we eat, we use mostly physical cues to tell us how much we are eating. So if you try to cut your portions to reduce your intake of calories, but still serve these smaller portions on a large dinner plate, you're only negating your effort to eat less.
Think about it this way – how fulfilling does a tiny chicken breast with a couple of steamed vegetables look when it's served on a massive plate? Not very. But imagine that same meal on a smaller plate that appears to be overflowing with food. That's much better.
Your brain will interpret the small plate and the smaller portion as actual fulfillment, so you'll physically feel more full from the same amount of food served on a small plate than you would when it's served on a larger plate. The same is true for every other dish in your house. Try eating a bowl of ice cream with a mini spoon or baby spoon – your treat will not only last longer, but you'll feel more satisfied than if you ate the same amount with a larger spoon!
Eat More Frequently
The eating habit norm is 3 large meals a day, at breakfast, lunch and dinner. But there's new research out there that shows that you're actually better off eating 5 smaller meals per day and spreading them out evenly throughout your day than you are eating the normal 3 big ones.
By eating more frequently, you'll be revving up your metabolism throughout the day, which means your body will be burning calories even when you're sitting still. Your body turns the food you consume into energy, which uses those necessary calories that you're frequently taking in on this plan. So not only will you boost your metabolism and burn more calories, but you'll also feel more energized.
Eat a good, healthy breakfast to start your day, then pack a healthy snack to bring with you to work or school to eat between breakfast and lunch. Fruit, nuts, yogurt or even some granola bars (watch out for high sugar content in some of these, though – go for brands like Kashi or Kind that are made with all-natural, hearty ingredients) make excellent morning snacks.
Have another snack ready to go for between lunch and dinner, maybe a baggie of vegetables or some low-fat crackers with fat-free cheese. Your goal should be to eat about every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism up and your body feeling the energy from all of this food.
Don't Deprive, Just Swap
Maybe you have an issue with snacking because your favorite snacks are chocolate bars or potato chips. You know you should be cutting these items out of your diet, but every time you try to, you just find that you're craving them even more than ever. This might lead you to eating them even more frequently.
So stop depriving yourself, it's as simple as that. Swap that candy bar you love for a small piece or two of dark chocolate, which is good for your heart health and better for you (since it's more natural) than regular chocolate. Eat it every day, but in moderation each day. It'll kick your craving just like a candy bar would.
Swap the bag of potato chips for some veggie chips if you need that salt fix during the day. Try sweet potato chips that have been roasted, not fried. There's still a hint of salt to them, and they taste great, but are much healthier than regular chips and are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. Look for brands that are made with real vegetables, not the fake stuff, so you'll get a serving of veggies in with this healthy snack, too.
Drink More Water
You may not think it will do much for your weight, but drinking more water really can help you shed pounds and will help keep your body healthier overall.
Putting more water into your body will help flush out any toxins that may be floating around and will decrease your water weight, ridding your body of all of the excess sodium you may be consuming. Plus, there's nothing to water – it's one of those things where you can have as much of it as you want without ever worrying about it!
Water is also a natural metabolism booster, so drinking a big glass of water before meals will help you feel fuller faster when you eat. Although water won't fill you up the same way that food will, it's a natural, healthier replacement for those sugary drinks you might be used to consuming. Make the change and aim for 8 glasses of water every single day, and you'll start seeing the results very soon!
Skip the Gym
That's right, skip the gym. If you hate dragging yourself out of bed in the morning to go work out because your workouts are boring and mundane, skip it!
Instead, opt for making exercise fun. Join a group that goes for runs twice or three times a week. Find a friend to go on a bike ride with. Play in a pick-up volleyball game. Go for a walk with the dog. Go for a hike on a lazy Sunday instead of lying around all day. The possibilities are endless.
These days there is too much emphasis placed on going to the gym – and while its benefits are certainly not to be discounted, if you hate doing it, you're not going to benefit from going every morning anyway. So find ways to make exercise something fun that you look forward to throughout your day.
And exercising in groups or pairs is always more fun and much more motivating than doing it alone, so whatever you decide to do, make sure you grab a close group of friends and get active to start shedding the pounds fast!
Sleep an Extra 30 Minutes
Although the daily recommended amount of sleep for anyone wishing to live a healthy lifestyle is between 7 and 8 hours, even if you only sleep for 5 hours, adding an extra 30 minutes is an easy change to make that can yield big results.
By adding the extra half hour, you'll wake up feeling more refreshed than usual, so you'll be less likely to reach for a sugary breakfast food for a quick energy boost on your way out the door. And by eating a healthier breakfast, you'll be more likely to make smarter food choices throughout the rest of the day, too.
Your body also builds muscle while you sleep – so if you've hit the gym or done a fun workout that day, the extra half hour of sleep at night will give your body even more of a chance to build lean, toned muscle. You'll look tighter all around before you know it.
Sleep can also help boost your metabolism, which means you'll be burning extra calories throughout the remainder of the day. So feel free to hit the snooze button a couple of times in the morning – just make sure you're not late for work!
Eat Most of Your Calories in the Morning
Eating a big breakfast really does have weight loss benefits, after all.
Try to consume the majority of your daily calories before noon, that way your body will have the whole rest of the day to work off all of those calories. In comparison, if you eat a big meal right before bed or even close to bedtime, your body won't have as much of a chance to burn all of the calories.
Combining this “eat a lot early in the day” method with some of the aforementioned tips can produce tremendous results quite quickly, and they're really simple changes to make. No one is asking you to go on any extreme diets or anything of the sort – just make a few simple lifestyle and diet changes to get yourself feeling healthier, lighter, more energized and more motivated.