Do you want to lose a few pounds – or a few dozen?
Many of us do: in fact, over 60% of Americans are overweight (and other developed nations are catching up fast). You’d think that all the diet pills, diet foods, diet books and diet plans would help. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be doing much good.
I’ve got a long history with dieting: I was overweight as a teen, and I still have to pay close attention to my weight to stop it creeping back up. (I blame a combination of genetics, a mild medical condition, and a fondness for chocolate…)
Over the years, though, I’ve learnt about a few tricks that really help. If you give these a go, you’ll find that you can lose weight without having to eat a restrictive diet and without spending hours trying to resist the siren call of that ice-cream tub in your freezer…
#1: Keep Junk Food Out of the House
However strong your willpower might be at 8am, there’s a good chance that at 8pm, you’re going to be delving into the cookie jar.
If you’ve got high-calorie snacks and treats in the house, it’s all too easy to weaken and eat them. But if you don’t buy them in the first place, you’ll find it much easier to resist your inner Cookie Monster – you’re probably not going to be craving junk so badly that you make an extra trip to the store.
#2: Record What You Eat
Studies have shown that keeping a food diary doubles participants’ weight loss – and it even helps people lose weight without them even trying to diet.
Why are food diaries so powerful? Well, they let you see your eating habits in black and white (and they can give you a few nasty surprises). Plus, the act of recording everything you eat makes you more conscious about it – you’ll pause for a moment, rather than scoffing that candy bar without a second thought.
#3: Weigh Yourself Weekly
I always know that I’m getting into bad habits when I start avoiding weighing myself…
By stepping on the scales every week, you’ll be able to see when you’re making progress (which is really encouraging). Or, if things haven’t gone so well, you’ll find it harder to remain in denial. If you know that you’ll be weighing in each week, it’s easier to stay on track day-by-day – especially if you’re going to a group like Weight Watchers, or posting your weekly weight on Facebook.
#4: Find Exercise That You Enjoy
Maybe you think you hate exercise – but that’s almost certainly not true. What most people hate is some particular type of activity, perhaps because it brings back unpleasant memories of sports at school.
There are so many different ways to move your body and get active, and you can find something which you look forward to doing. How about walking, cycling, rowing or swimming? Or, if you’re more adventurous, fencing, martial arts, trampolining …
#5: Use a Smaller Plate
This sounds like such a silly trick that it won’t work – but it really does. If you use a smaller plate (or bowl, etc) for every meal, you’ll eat less.
Most of us tend to fill our plates – and then we eat what’s in front of us. Researchers have found that this happens even when the food isn’t particularly enjoyable: in a study run by Cornell University, students supplied with large tubs of free (but stale) popcorn ate more than those given smaller tubs.
#6: Incorporate Walking Into Your Day
Whatever your fitness level and circumstances, you can probably walk for at least a block or two. Walking is a great way to sneak in some extra exercise – you don’t need any special gear, you won’t get sweaty, and you can use your walk to accomplish something useful (like going to the grocery store).
If you work at a computer, try taking a five minute break every hour to walk around. (Over an eight hour day, that adds up to forty minutes of walking.) This won’t just help you lose weight – it’ll also help to prevent health problems associated with sitting in one position staring at a screen.
So, six clever little tricks to help you lose weight without putting in much effort at all. Give one – or more – of them a try, today.