10 Tiny lifestyle changes you can easily make to lose weight
If you've just made it your goal to shed a few kilos and slim down a bit, it can be a daunting thing to start with. But it doesn't have to be as gruelling as following a strict eating plan and forcing yourself to slug through tough workouts every day. In fact, research has shown that starting small with tiny lifestyle changes – rather than going all out and eventually giving up – is the best way to get results that last.
"When you focus on just a couple of small changes at a time, you begin to ingrain some healthy habits that last for a lifetime, rather than trying an all-or-nothing approach that more often than not fails because it's too hard to follow," says Dr Lesley Lutes from East Carolina University.
These 10 small tips are proven to help you slim down. And you know what? You don't even need to do them all. Just by adopting as little as one or two of these tips into your regular routine, you could lose a couple of inches off your waistline in just a few months time.
1. Move while you're waiting around for something
Rather than staring into the microwave as you're heating up your dinner, or scrolling through Instagram for the hundredth time during TV commercials, go and move around a little. Do some lunges, jog on the spot or just hold a squat – any of lease will activate your muscles and get your heart rate up. If you're moving for 2 minutes to the point of getting puffed during a standard 2-hour TV night, you'll burn an extra 270 calories a day. So next time, grab the skipping rope rather than skipping the intro on your Netflix show.
2. After breakfast, stick to water
Go on and have your OJ in the morning, but after that, opt for water instead of juice or fizzy drinks to quench your thirst. They contain loads of sugar, and even though they're very high in calories, these drinks don't fill you up like food with the same amount of calories do. Go for water, and if you need a warm beverage then tea and even milky coffee is fine (as long as you don't sabotage it with mountains of sugar, vile syrups and a pile of cream).
3. Drink more water anyway
When you're feeling hungry, it could just be a sign of dehydration. Sometimes your rumbling tummy is actually just calling for liquid, no matter if that comes from a nice, refreshing glass of water or from a cheap burger. So whenever you're feeling peckish, stop, have a big glass of water and wait 1o-15 minutes. If you're still hungry, then go ahead and eat. The water will help you absorb less fat from the food anyway, and it helps with digestion.
4. Grab a pen
Studies have proven that people who write down everything they've eaten that day end up eating 15 percent less food than those who don't, and that they lose twice as much weight. It's a practice of mindfulness, you'll be more aware of how often you're eating, and how much you're eating at different parts of the day or in particular moods. It prevents you from mindlessly stuffing your gob with garbage when you're not even that hungry anyway. There are also a bunch of apps to help you keep track of what you're eating.
5. Limit high-fat foods
The worst thing about trying to lose weight is having to cut comfort foods from your life (I'm speaking to you, original flavour Doritos). I mean, what would life be without chocolate, candy, ice-cream, doughnuts, potato chips... FRIES?! But what if I told you that you didn't need to banish them all from your plate? Dr Lutes said you just need to limit how many high-fat/high-calorie foods you're consuming: "If you're eating six of these foods a week, try to go down to five," says Dr. Lutes. Each week, try and cut it down even more until you're just indulging in one or two a week.
6. Try to balance it out with 80/20
A good ratio to make sure you're eating healthy but also not forced to miserably to look on while all your friends are eating Nutella-stuffed donuts it to stick to the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of the time, you should be eating nutritious, delicious, healthy foods that are good for you. The other 20 percent, indulge in that donut, go out for pizza, and choose the halloumi burger. If you know you're going for a gluttonous dinner, have a smoothie for breakfast and something light and virtuous for lunch. Counterbalance a naughty weekend with eating healthy the rest of the week.
7. Walk more
By getting off the bus one stop early, carrying your groceries home, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator means you'll burn more calories, slowly get fitter and prevent weight gain. Maybe you want to try the 1.5km rule: if your next appointment, errand or lunch date is less than 1.5km away, then don't bother with a cab/Uber/tram/bus/horse-drawn-carriage and walk people, WALK.
8. Sign up to e-newsletters
A study from Kaiser Permanente found that people who were getting weekly diet and fitness emails over four months started moving a lot more and were eating far healthier than before. Sign up to a few fitness website newsletters, follow healthy food accounts on Instagram, and maybe you'll start to see a few changes in yourself too.
9. Switch it up
This one is so easy, and it's just about the type of products you're buying. Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice (extra fiber and nutrients), go for hot sauce rather than creamy or sugary sauces (they'll ignite your digestive fire), and go for grainy, wholemeal bread and brown rice rather than the white stuff (extra fiber and protein, plus you'll be feeling fuller). If you drink full-fat milk, consider going for 2% to cut around 20 percent of calories. Just avoid the really watered-down no-fat milk, as they often add sugar to make up for the lack of taste.
10. Eat from a smaller plate
We'll often heap our dinner plates with food so it doesn't look empty, but this means we'll often be consuming way more than we actually need or want. Rather, serve your main meal on a smaller plate to avoid eating more than you wanted to. It's also better to serve your meal on the plate rather than a family-style platter scenario. You'll be less tempted to reach for seconds.
Why not try with just one of these to start with, and once it's become part of your everyday routine, try sticking to another. After a while, you'll be living a healthier, more active lifestyle that'll help you see results. Best of all, you'll be feeling better and living more wholesomely without even thinking about it.