Sometimes, it’s the little things that count. This is especially true when undertaking small, easy to make lifestyle changes that can have a huge impact on losing weight. Small steps are also much easier to work up to than trying to take a series of giant changes at once. Sticking to small changes are much easier, and also serve more gratification when you are able to accomplish them. For example, trying to hit the gym everyday might feel impossible, but choosing to take the stairs everyday is much more feasible.
Lifestyle changes, large or small, can have a much deeper and long term effect on your health than simply going on a diet. They lay the healthy groundwork, which allows workout and diets to have longer lasting results. Dieting tends to be a fad, as people move in and out of whatever method is popular at any given moment. Because lifestyle changes are all encompassing, and typically involve a shift in mindset, they are often much more effective than the diet of the week or boot camp of the month.
The best part about lifestyle changes, is that they don’t have to be big! Small manageable adjustments can lead to huge results over time.
1. Food Journal
It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the act of writing down each and every meal or snack you consume will help you better track your eating habits. It is hard enough to remember what we ate last Tuesday, let alone try to understand our daily caloric intake. Research supports food journaling, one study found that participants who kept a food journal lost two times as much weight as those who didn’t.
2. Walk More
Stop taking the elevator at work. It is as simple as that. Try taking the dog for another walk around the block, or take the long route to lunch. Adding another 5 minutes walking time is an easy small lifestyle change to help you lose weight and maintain it. Doctors recommend getting in 30 minutes of physical activity a day, which is easy to manage if you introduce it in small baby steps scattered throughout your day.
3. Mini Daily Workouts
Start a routine of doing a 10-15 minute workout everyday. Nothing fancy, use your own body weight (think push ups, crunches, dips) and push yourself for 60 second intervals. By building up muscle mass, you are also building up metabolism! You will be surprised to see how strong you become in just a matter of days.
Just as food journaling can help you better track and manage your diet, a pedometer can help you track and manage your daily physical activity. Research has shown that people wearing pedometers walk an extra 2,500 steps, or one mile, than those who do not wear one. Seeing progress every day, or setting a specific step goal is a great motivator.
5. Bring Your Own Lunch To Work
Making your own lunch at home, instead of eating out every day, will help you keep on track with your diet and weight loss goals. Even if you make your own version of a burger or chicken wrap at home, it is guaranteed to be much healthier than anything you could find for takeout. It will also mean that healthy snacks are available, before you become hungry and before you choose instant gratification from a vending machine.
6. 1-Mile Rule
Studies have shown that on average, Americans will choose to drive 1 mile, than to walk it. In fact, 66% of people will drive it. If the distance increased to 2 miles, 89% will drive it. Choosing to walk anything that falls under a mile on a daily basis, which is a considerably small lifestyle change, will help you lose an additional 13-17 pounds a year. Importantly, it also reduces your carbon footprint, and reduces your gas bill!
7. Treat Yourself – Slowly
Eating more mindfully is a key tool to reducing junk food consumption. When you slow down the process, it not only allows your body a time to catch up and feel full, it also allows you to enjoy the food more. Some experts suggest portioning out a special treat, such as a chocolate bar, and taking a full 10 minutes to eat it. By slowing down what is typically a rushed process, you will get an equal amount of enjoyment even if the portions are much smaller.
8. Social Support
Having someone to lean on when you really don’t feel like working out, or when you are craving take out is is vital. Even if the support is through an online support group, it helped women lose more than 15 pounds over a 9 month period, and helped them reduce their daily calorie intake by more than 300 calories. Having a little of positive peer-pressure can go a very long way.
9. Morning Coffee
For many people it’s difficult to start the day without a cup of coffee, but nowadays it’s typically a shot of caffeine within a sweet, blended, whip-creamed, frappuccino. Making one small lifestyle change from a high-fatty morning drink, back to a simple cup of joe, you can instantly start the day right. Fancy blended coffee drinks typically contain 4 times more calories than a standard cup of coffee even with cream and sugar!
10. Sleep Better
Lack of sleep is the number one way to support poor decisions. Your brain isn’t capable of resisting the urge for junk food, or keeping up with your workout routine. By ensuring you get a full night’s sleep, you are also ensuring that the other lifestyle changes you are making stay on track. Research also seems to support the idea that healthy sleep can actually promote weight loss itself, far beyond the ramifications of the next day.