By Riley Cardoza
Instead of being intimidated by all the weight-loss work ahead of you, start small with these 20 tiny tweaks you can try this week.
There’s a lot that goes into reaching your goal weight. You don’t just have to eat right, but you have to exercise on top of that—and be consistent in both areas. With so much time, discipline, and sacrifice required to send that number on the scale soaring the other way, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re just getting started.
But no one said you had to dive into the deep end right off. Instead, get there gradually this week by incorporating simple, healthy hacks like these into your daily routine. They might not seem like a big deal at first, but throw them all together and they’ll really add up! If you get started right now, you’ll already be feeling healthier by Saturday. And once you’ve mastered these, we’ve got 35 Instant Weight-Loss Secrets to keep you busy until you’re ready to kick things up a notch.
1. Rethink Your Pre-Workout Snack
If you’re looking to get more bang for your buck at the gym, but reluctant to ramp up your routine, don’t change your workout. Change your pre-workout snack instead! According to a study in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the amino acid L-arginine, which is found in almonds, can help burn carbs and fats during your next sweat sesh. Pop a handful into your mouth the next time you’re headed to the gym and see if you can feel their effects by the end of the week. They did end up on our list of 7 Best Foods For Rapid Weight Loss, after all.
2. Make Sure You Munch Mindfully
It’s time to stop with the TV dinners—and no, we’re not talking about the microwaveable meals claiming space in your freezer. (Although those can be bad, too). We’re talking about your unhealthy habit of binging on food while you binge on Netflix after a long day at work. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked distracted eating to a long-term food consumption increase. So unless you want to keep throwing back snacks without thought, put some interest into your intake. Keep in mind that it generally takes about 21 days to break a habit, so get a move on it this week!
3. Spice Up Your Snacks
If your food isn’t making you sweat, it’s not your metabolism’s best bet. Not only do hot peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin that will help burn fat, but they’ll have you reaching for that glass of water more and more, which is another metabolism booster. When participants in a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism drank 17 ounces of water, their metabolic rate increased by 30 percent. If you try this out a couple days a week, you’ll be hooked on salsa’s effects by the end of the week.
4. Hit The Hay Earlier
As if you needed another excuse to go to bed, people who don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours a night are more at risk for weight gain, according to a study in Sleep. If you train your body to go to bed at a certain time, it’ll be easier to stick to it. So why not start now? You’ll be on your way to a regular sleep schedule in no time. So just plump up that pillow and start snoozing like your health depends on it this week—because it kind of does.
5. Become A Morning Person
No one said you had to sign your life away to your local gym or buy a spin class bundle. Finding the right fitness routine can be as easy as lacing up a pair of sneakers and going for a walk. A study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that a.m. workouts can lead to better sleep, which is an important weight loss factor. So while a post-dinner stroll might work most conveniently into your schedule this week, do whatever you can to get out sometime between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. According to a study in PLOS ONE, being exposed to direct sunlight during this time reduces your risk of weight gain, finding this to be the case even when researchers accounted for other factors like calorie intake, activity level, and age. Do this every day until Saturday and you’ll feel better!
6. Weigh In Every Morning
Odds are good that you probably aren’t stepping on the scale as much as you should be. Researchers from Cornell University found that people weighing themselves every day and writing down their results ended up losing more body weight than those who didn’t. The more you remind yourself of your goals, the more they’ll come to mind when you’re tempted to indulge in cheat meals or purchase sugary products, so step on before you step out for work this week.
7. Snack With Plastic
According to a study in the Journal of Marketing, clear packaging leads to more binging. So don’t store your sweet treats in transparent containers. Save those for the healthy stuff so you can keep your eyes on the prize. Sometimes changing your environment is all it takes to change your bod. Throw out your aluminum foil today and have all your best snacks front and center in opaque packaging by tomorrow!
8. Swap Your Soda Break For A Green Tea
Got green tea? Because you should. About four to five cups a day, to be exact. When participants in a study published in The Journal of Nutrition spent 25 minutes at the gym, those who drank this much green tea lost more belly fat than those who didn’t. That’s because this drink is full of catechins, an antioxidant that encourages rapid weight loss by stopping fat storage. Hitting even four cups might seem hard, but not if you start and end your day with a steaming mug of the stuff. Then you only need to squeeze it in a couple more times. Swap out your usual afternoon coffee or soda for this beneficial beverage this week and see how much better you feel!
9. Light Up Your Lunch Breaks
Eating in well-lit spaces can make all the difference between making a good or bad choice at the dinner table, according to a study in the Journal of Marketing Research. People in bright rooms over dim ones were 16-24 percent more likely to have a healthier option. So if you know your willpower is weak, maybe it’s time you shed some light on those bad habits by opening up a window or two on your lunch breaks this week. Do this a few days in a row, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier routine.
10. Write Down Your Weekly Grocery List
Know before you go! If your grocery store trips consist of wheeling your cart around aimlessly until you see something you realize you need, you’re doing it wrong. A study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that people putting pen to paper purchase healthier items and have lower BMIs than those who don’t. Check out the contents of your kitchen tonight before you head out for your weekly trip, then use that list to ensure that you’re only picking up wholesome groceries when you get there.
11. Set Out Your Shoes
What’s the hardest part of working out? It isn’t just lifting that loaded dumbbell or finishing off that hilly hike with a sprint. Often, starting is actually the biggest struggle in any sweat sesh. That’s why you should leave your sneakers where you can see them the night before your morning workout. It’s a lot easier to skip your cardio plans when your running shoes aren’t staring you in the face. Try this out this week and see just how many more times you get out the door with them on.
12. Share Your Food
And we don’t mean with other people—although that is a great way to incorporate sweets into your diet in moderation. We’re talking about sharing food with your Instagram followers. That’s right, snap a picture the next time you eat, whether you’re out or making a meal at home. A meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that recalling your last meal as being satisfying can lead to eating less next time you sit down to chow down. Filling your feed (or even just your camera roll) with food photos is an easy way to pay attention to prior intake. You can start small; just make a solid effort to post a couple times this week to boost your meal mindfulness.
13. Pour a Cup of Coffee
Turns out your oh-so-necessary morning cup of joe doesn’t just wake you up in time for work, but also boosts your metabolism at the same time. People who consume caffeinated coffee have a 16 percent higher metabolic rate than those who don’t drink it, according to a study published in Physiology&Behavior. We recommend laying off the sugar and adding a splash of full-fat milk to do best by your bod when you pour a cup tomorrow morning.
14. Take Time to Meal Prep
After a long work week, the last thing you probably want to do on Sunday is work some more. But taking the time to meal prep can work weight loss wonders, so scoot on over to the kitchen with enough ingredients and Tupperware to last you the next few days. Why meal prep? It’s like setting your sneakers out the night before a run; by stocking your fridge with pre-made options, you’re more likely to reach for what’s already available the next time you’re hungry. And in this case, it’ll be something healthy like a grilled chicken rice bowl on Tuesday or a colorful salad on Wednesday.
15. Do Dinner Differently
Are you a fan of family-style eating? Because it’s time to leave that practice in the past. When food is served this way, according to a study in Obesity, people eat 35 percent more by the time the meal is over. Instead of indulging in this bad buffet night after night, pack up leftovers immediately after you’ve served your family dinner. That way, reaching for seconds is a more mindful decision that requires moving to the fridge instead of reaching across the table. And the end of the week, you could have eaten 245 percent less than usual, so cook up these 22 Foods That Should Always Be Eaten Together and pile your plate again guilt-free.
16. Check Yourself Out
And not just in the mirror—although you might want to after you’ve tried this tip out a few times. You should check yourself out at the store because when you’re the one to scan and swipe, your impulse purchases drop by 32 percent for women and 17 for men, according to IHL Consulting Group researchers. By bagging each item right before you pull out your credit card, you’ll make yourself more mindful of what you’re bringing home this week and, ultimately, bringing into your body. Compare past receipts and see just how much less you walked out with!
17. Take a Break From Sitting
The fact that you work behind a desk is not an excuse to stay trapped there from 9 to 5, even if you’ve got a regular workout routine outside of the office. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who exercise and then sit all day after are at risk of the same negative health issues as people who aren’t hitting the gym at all. Doesn’t seem fair, but luckily there’s a simple solution. Get up frequently and move those muscles a few times a day this week, whether you’re hitting the bathroom or just taking a lap, and see how much energy you’ve got when the weekend rolls around.
18. Sip on Tomato Juice
According to a study in Nutrition, drinking a small tomato juice glass every day for eight weeks can lead to almost an inch lost on your waistline. With results like that, what’s stopping you from grabbing a gallon of the stuff on your trip to the grocery store this week? Start now and you’ll only have seven weeks to go!
19. Get To Snacking
Getting hungry between your morning meal and your lunch meeting? Don’t sweat it. Snacking is totally fine, as long as you’re stocking up on the good stuff. We recommend fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, a stick of string cheese, a satiating protein bar, or one of our 40 Healthy Snack Ideas to Keep You Slim. Besides, East Finland University researchers found that kids grew up with lower BMIs when they ate three meals a day with two snacks in between, even when their parents were obese. Swap out a waist widening munchie for something nutritious every day this week and your body will thank you.
20. Keep Healthy Food in Sight
If the first thing you see when you open up the fridge is a slice of cheesecake, you’ve got a problem. Instead of tempting yourself like that every time you reach for a bottle of water, leave the good stuff front and center. If a package of grapes or a meal-prepped salad is eye level while your sweet snacks are buried in the back of those bottom drawers, you’ll be more likely to choose wisely. Tackle your fridge set-up this weekend and then get started on the other 25 Ways To Reorganize Your Kitchen For Weight Loss Success.
MORE FROM EAT THIS, NOT THAT!
Lose Up to 14 Pounds in One Week Eating Breakfast!
The new book Zero Belly Breakfasts will have you looking and feeling great in no time flat, thanks to hundreds of delicious and nutritious breakfast secrets—and more than 100 mouthwatering recipes you can prepare in minutes! Buy Zero Belly Breakfasts today!