It’s the new year and many of us have the same resolution: try to lose some weight. Weight loss can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you spend maybe a little bit too much time scrolling through Instagram “fitspiration” posts and end up not exactly inspired, but overwhelmed with the idea that you will never be able to live on green smoothies or do 1,000 burpees a day. But don’t worry! There are lots of easy ways to lose weight that don’t involve changing your entire life, hiring an expensive personal trainer, or pretending you like kale.
Don’t feel like dieting? (Who does, tbh). One easy way to reduce calories is to ditch sugary drinks like soda (yes, that includes diet soda!), sports drinks, and alcohol. Replacing only a few drinks a day with water can greatly reduce your daily calorie intake. Learn to love seltzer water and you’ll never go back to soda.
Research varies, but humans should drink about 2 liters of water a day. That’s probably more than you are drinking. Drinking water can fill you up and make you less hungry during the day. A water bottle with a straw can make it easy to drink more water faster, so carry one with you to work, school, or around the house. If you crave a glass of wine or beer at the end of the day, try filling your glass with water first and finishing it before you pour yourself a drink for some extra hydration.
A sweetened coffee drink can have about 250 calories, that’s as much as a whole cupcake or half a meal! Instead of getting a sugary coffee drink, learn to love black coffee or coffee with just a little bit of milk or cream. It was be great for your waistline and your wallet! Tea with a little bit of honey is also a great option if you are craving a warm drink with a little sweetness.
How can podcasts help you lose weight? When you get really into a podcast, you’re going to want to walk more places with your earbuds in, stay on the treadmill a little longer, or opt for the long route when you take your dog for a walk so you don’t have to turn it off. Scroll through your podcast app, pick a new fav, and tell yourself you’re only allowed to listen if you are being active.
Bonding over dinner and happy hour, while lots of fun, can encourage us to indulge a little too much. Invite friends to do things that don’t involve eating or drinking like going for a walk or hike, attending a fitness class together, going out for a spa date, going to museum, or taking a class together.
People often pick a fitness routine that is too much for them so they end up abandoning it. Maybe you’re never going to be a person who can bench press their weight or run one of those races where you have to wade through mud and that’s okay! Be realistic about your goals and don’t beat yourself up: getting fit can take a lot of time. Pick a plan that encourages you to do more than you are doing now, but not a plan that makes you want to just crawl back into bed when you think about doing it. A little bit of working out is better than no working out, even if it’s just a 15 minute walk or stretching on your lunch break.
Don’t force yourself to eat anything you don’t like. You’re not going to stick to a diet if you have to gulp down a smoothie full of spinach every morning that makes you gag. Try different foods and figure out which foods work for you before you commit to a diet or food plan.
And we don’t mean “buy a box of pizza rolls” kind of cooking at home. Cooking at home is much healthier than eating out because you can control exactly what goes into your food and how big your portion sizes are. Learn to cook from scratch with fresh, healthy ingredients. It’s easier than you think! And once you are armed with some healthy recipes you love, you will have go-to meals to help you stay on track.
Take some time to make a list at the beginning of the week to plan all the healthy meals you will make and then get all the ingredients in one go. It takes some time, but is worth it in the long run. You’ll be much more likely to stick to the schedule of healthy meals if you already have everything you need at home. Then use the leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day so you don’t end up buying something unhealthy in a panic.
When you’re buying groceries, try not to go down any aisles. All the healthy stuff is usually on the outsides: vegetables, fruits, fresh meats, eggs, cheese, and dairy. Of course you’ll need to dip into the interior every once and awhile, but try to make your cart mostly outer-rim items.
Think of yourself as the ghost baseball players from Field of Dreams and snacks as the cleared cornfield baseball diamond: if it’s there, you will come. Get rid of unhealthy snacks like chips, crackers, sugary cereals, cookies, ice cream etc and instead fill your house only with filling, healthy snacks like fruit, jerky, nuts, unsweetened yogurt, and vegetables.
There’s nothing wrong with falling off the wagon every once and awhile and buying a bag of Doritos, we are only human, but if you don’t have junk food in your house and you have to physically go to the store to get it, you are much less likely to go through with it.
You don’t have to be one of those annoying people who posts their daily stats on every social media outlet, but a fitness tracker can help you privately achieve your goals. Just knowing how much you move every day can encourage you to do more.
Competing with friends can be fun, too, but sometimes just competing with yourself can be all you need to get going.
There are a million different ways to work out. If you hate running: don’t! If you are too fidgety to make it through a whole yoga class: don’t sweat it (pun intended). If all you want to do is learn how to hurl one of those giant logs like the Scottish people do: look, life is short, you do you.
Try signing up for a variety of workout classes and see what you like. Lots of gyms allow for a free trial of one class and places like the YMCA offer a variety of classes at lots of different levels. There’s no shame in leaving a class you hate halfway, through, either.
Breakfast is an easy meal to make healthy, just skip the sweet stuff. Making a healthy breakfast before work or school can seem like a time suck, but be honest, making a quick plate of eggs takes about the same amount of time as stopping at a coffee shop for a muffin.
You may have heard the old adage “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and that’s not exactly true (it’s important to eat all your meals!) but eating a filling, healthy breakfast can make you feel fuller throughout the day and less likely to snack.
It’s always better to go to the gym if you look great going there. Buy some cute workout clothes and get excited to wear them!
It can be tempting to reward yourself for eating sooo healthy and working out sooo hard with a big slab of chocolate cake, but why derail your efforts now? Make a non-food-based reward system for staying on track. Instead get yourself a new outfit when you’ve reached a goal. Take yourself out for a manicure. Splurge on a ticket to a concert or sports game. Go wild in Sephora.
Divide snack foods into baggies or reusable containers before you eat them. If your snacks are already portioned, you’ll think twice before breaking open another container and eat less than if you were mindlessly grabbing something from a big bag.
There are lots of apps that help you track your food. Look, food tracking isn’t for everyone. It can be exhausting to put everything you eat into an app. But give it a try, it may surprise you how much more you are eating than you think. And you don’t need to be a stickler about your calorie consumption, sometimes just having to enter “a cup of white cheddar popcorn” five times in one day might make you think twice about eating extra snacks.
Sometimes you aren’t really hungry but you feel obligated to eat food because it’s there: a co-worker brought cupcakes, or your school offers free bagels on Friday mornings. Remember: you don’t HAVE to eat things just because they are free or because someone you know made them. Donuts will show up at your office again, someone at Whole Foods is always waiting to give you a tiny block of cheese, you can say no this time. Of course you should always be polite, but the world will keep on turning even if Martha from Marketing is offended you didn’t try her secret Chex Mix recipe.
It can be very disheartening to look at friends or fitness personalities on social media who seem to truly enjoy eating nothing but greens and fish and roll out of bed in the morning just itching to do some squats. But remember: social media has filtered out those people because they are exceptional. Most people struggle with eating healthy, working out, and losing weight. You’re not doing a bad job if you don’t have a six pack: most people don’t!
Give yourself a break, don’t punish yourself, and work to reach your own personal goals, not someone else’s. If those posts make you upset: let them go. If weighing yourself makes you panic: stop. If you accidentally eat a whole sleeve of Oreos one day: just try not do it the next day. Getting frustrated will only set you back. You’re doing great!