Does it sound like a lame supplement advertisement yet? It’s not, I swear. I can’t promise that the pounds will just fall off, I can’t promise that you’ll lose 40 pounds in 2 weeks, or that your metabolism will raise to supersonic speeds while simultaneously engaging your fat cells to an epic reenactment of Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader, but what I can promise, is that these little life changes will make a difference you never thought you could achieve with such little effort.
Many people think that it takes a brand new work out regiment and a strict meal schedule to see results. It’s not true. If you can stick to a plan like that, you will, probably see results, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll call it quits as soon as something goes wrong. Oh, there’s just a little bit left in the pan? Might as well not let it go to waste. The baby made a fuss? I guess I won’t have time to do my workout.
The bottom line? It takes small changes to form habits and create a new lifestyle.
Designate an eating area.
This works. Being one of the lazy many, in no way, do I intend to get up from my comfortable couch to go sit at the table to eat a bowl of popcorn after the kids go to bed. Sometimes I’m too lazy to walk to the refrigerator, let alone walk all the way to the table and sit on the hard chairs as well. Nothing short of starvation or Filet Mignon would get me to that spot when I don’t have to be.
Designating a specific eating area helps your cause in more than one way. Besides feeling like a mile hike after you’ve already put your feet up and changed into your comfy clothes for the evening, it also allows for better portion control. When we’re focusing on just one thing, we aren’t mindlessly consuming hundreds of calories while watching our favorite prime time drama.
Put down your electronics.
We all know the benefits of putting our phones and tablets down to spend time with family and joining the “real” world for a change, but in doing this, it allows us another method of portion control. Besides building those long-lost social skills, we are able to focus on what we’re eating, not who we’re texting or what e-mail we’re reading.
Officially make your designated eating area tech-free zone. Make a cute sign if you have to. Those constant reminders flare up the old guilt-trip, and at the very least, make us think twice about doing something we know we shouldn’t.
The benefits to increasing your hydration level are innumerable. This one tiny lifestyle change has an incredible impact on your overall health It is suggested that drinking more water:
- increase your metabolism – the rate in which you burn calories
- increases energy
- flushes and detoxifies
- decreases cravings
- helps muscles heal (after the dreaded “E” word)
- makes you feel more full at meal and snack times
Besides weight loss, hydration has lists and lists of influences on wellness, and they’re increasing every day. Before I started getting a little bit water-conscious, I drank absolutely none, except sometimes when I took Tylenol for caffeine headaches. In fact, I generally replaced it with Red Bull. I was in the Army at the time and passed out A LOT. It never occurred to me that endless amounts of sugar, caffeine, and a lack of one of my body’s most essential fluids could be the cause.
When I became pregnant with my youngest, I decided to take the dive. Contrary to my original thoughts, however, it wasn’t that much of a dive. Being the lazy person that I am, I always carried my water in a “goal-sized” container. At first it was a two liter. When I spent time sitting on the couch, it was right there for me. It totally negated the necessity for me to risk not meeting my goal by ensuring that I wouldn’t actually have to walk all the way to sink to refill my water bottle. Now I’m at a about a gallon a day and though I started with, you guessed it, an empty milk jug, I’ve changed to a 32 oz water bottle. It gets easier to remember where you’re at after a little while.
If you’re anything like I was, water will be a shock to your system. I even experienced nausea symptoms at the beginning. That too, got a lot easier, and a lot better. Now, after a few years of water not even being enough to quench my thirst, it’s usually the drink I crave the most.
Write down or take a picture of everything you eat for a week.
Of course you can’t take a picture, we banned electronics from our eating place, remember? I was testing you. Seriously though, it only takes a couple minutes out of our lives to eat a king size candy bar before it’s over and we forget about it forever. How do we let that much sugar and that many calories go unnoticed? Take a few seconds to jot a list of what you eat and drink (including water, of course)! You’ll never ask yourself, “how is it possible that I’ve gained this much weight?” ever again. It’s so easy to forget about that handful of chips or how much dinner you ate last night when we have so many things going on in our lives, but this is a great way to stay accountable.
Another excellent reason to write down your food intake, is to measure progress. When you change your eating habits a tiny bit at a time, you’ll see a huge difference in the quantity and quality of what you’ve eaten. You’ll look back at that first week and be in even more shock. Maybe you’ll even question how it was possible to fit that much food into your stomach. I know I definitely do.
This isn’t about calories, you don’t have to track them (because that would be a lot of effort) it’s about having a general understanding of what types of food are unhealthful and creating a way to visualize how many and how often you’re eating them. Try a small notebook that you can carry around with you versus a large one that you have to walk all the way into the other room to get every time you eat. Although, since you only eat in one place now, leave it there!
Check your bank account to monitor your non-grocery food spending.
This was one of the first things we did as a part of how we jump-started our plan for financial control. This might just blow your mind. We didn’t think we had any money left over. Oh, $310 on gas station stops (not including gas) and eating out? Maybe that’s why. I guess I could have gotten that new refrigerator after all. Unless eating out is like – the greatest thing in your life, it might be something to consider when consulting your health goals.
An alternative, certified lazy people, way to avoid eating out, is meal planning. I know, it sounds like a lot of work, but hear me out. One short day of work for 30 days worth of meals without spending more money on food and minimal cooking? Sign me up. I love to cook, sometimes, I just don’t have the time. Crock pot freezer meals are my life. In about 6 hours, I can do 30 days worth of freezer meals and about that many days worth of toddler-friendly lunches and breakfasts too.
This morning, I pulled out some home-made french toast sticks from the freezer, some fruits from the fridge, a little granola, and BAM, my 21-month-old gets a delicious and immediate breakfast with no effort involved. For lunch? My little guy is having gourmet spaghetti shells, straight out of the microwave, that I made in 20 minutes last week. Dinner? It’s in the slow cooker until 5:30 this evening when I’ll be pulling it out to serve for dinner.
Guess what else. We won’t be spending upward of $300 on restaurant tabs this month.
Save the snack foods for the end of your grocery shopping trip.
Grocery shopping irritates me. It’s not the rude people so much, or the drive to the store. It’s not even having to bring two kids under 2-years-old with me into the cart and trying to shove groceries in around a car seat or waiting until my husband can go along when the stores are at their busiest. It’s the length of time it takes to get EVERY SINGLE ITEM and all that stupid walking. I’m no stranger to lower body injury, so all that walking and bending and pushing kills me. Near the end of my list, I want to fall over.
If the junk is at the end of my list. I’m much less likely to take the effort to go back through and get them. I just conveniently forget to categorize them with the rest of my groceries. They have a section of their own, at the very bottom. This might be a little bit of a less reliable method if you go on short, few-item grocery lists, but if you’re shopping for 30 days worth of freezer meals, it works like a charm.
Low calorie, low sodium, and fat-free items are not what they used to be. The idea of fat-free sour cream used to make me cringe. Actually, it still does, we prefer to substitute most of the time. We like to use Greek Yogurt instead. Same consistency, extremely similar flavor, much better for you. When you can stand to substitute, do it. Be on the look out for my article on yummy substitutes! When we opt for “light” options of our favorites, however, they usually maintain their normal, delicious taste.
Healthful calories, complex carbohydrates, and saturated or mono-saturated fats affect your overall health. Your overall health has an effect on your energy level and the natural processes your body goes through each day – including the speed at which you burn calories. Avocados, for example, reduce cholesterol and promote a healthy heart! Granola, though high in fat content, contains fiber to help the digestive system process vitamins and nutrients. The more you replace bad-for-you foods with good-for-you foods, the more quantity you can fit in without feeling awful. While the “too much of a good thing,” rule definitely still applies, I think it’s safe to suggest you can fit more apples than cookie dough into your calorie count for the day.
Sleep resets and renews your body. If you’re not getting 7 hours of sleep at night, you should be. If you’re pregnant, ill, or undergoing treatment, you should be getting even more than that!. According to WebMD, well-rested people eat 300 less calories in a day. Who knew? Sleep to lose weight? Sounds great to me! Having a toddler and 5-month-old in my house, a hefty course load, and a lot of writing to do, I understand that more sleep isn’t always possible, but it sure has it’s benefits. The moment you can sneak in some Z’s, get on it!
Find motivation – and display it everywhere.
My motivation is my kids. They’re my reason for every single positive choice I make in my life. The key to finding effective motivation, is to find good motivation. Looking good in a swimming suit may not work for you. Of course it’s something you want, but is it something you want something more than that snack during a moment of weakness? That’s why my kids are my reason. There will never be anything more important than being healthy, so I can be there to help them practice sports, take them on walks, or be around to watch them graduate from college. The thing that is more important to you than anything else, will best serve as your constant motivation. Let me ask, if all of a sudden, the “ideal” body type became plus size, in the eyes of the general public, would you still want to be thin? If not, you may want to rethink your motivation.
With them, it’s not difficult to have a constant reminder because they’re freakishly present ALL THE TIME. If your motivation is elsewhere, hang pictures, make signs, write in Sharpie if you have to. Just remind yourself over and over and over. Ask yourself, “Is [insert snack here] really worth the secondary effect it would have on [insert motivation here]?” Is this energy drink really worth the caffeine I’d be putting into my daughter’s system when she nurses? Is this sugar really worth being too lethargic to get my kids their lunch on time or to give them the exercise they need? These questions are all no-brainers for me. I don’t even need to think about it. That is motivation – no will power required.
You don’t have to make a pact to wake up at 4:30 every morning, go on a 4 mile jog, and drink only green tea to maintain your 1,000 calorie-per-day, fat-free, gluten-free, sugar-free diet to lose weight. There are these little changes even the biggest couch potato can apply to their life to be more health conscious, each with minimal effort and lasting results.