A lot of people are always complaining about their weight, and if they’re not, they are at least considering losing weight just to avoid all the health risks and improve their quality of life. We are privileged to live in a world of abundance, where food is cheap and hard physical labour seldom required. Unfortunately, losing a bunch of fat and tightening up your body isn’t something that happens over night, and once it does happen, you need to fight to keep yourself fit. However, there are ways of getting leaner, sexier and stronger without counting every single calorie, going on a crazy fad diet or becoming a gym rat.
1. Drink only water, milk, unsweetened tea and coffee and diet soda
Carbs are not necessarily your enemy when it comes to losing weight – it’s just that most people are stuffing themselves full of carbs and bumping up their total calories way too high. On top of all that you eat during the day, an additional two litter bottle of soda and a couple of mugs of coffee laden with sugar and cream will take you way past your caloric needs very quickly. That’s about 1300-1400 calories extra for just the soda and coffee. If you could just focus on drinking more water, using artificial sweeteners – or drinking unsweetened coffee or tea – and switch to diet soda, you can easily cut 1000 calories from your diet.
2. Switch to grilled, baked and cooked rather than fried food
People give potatoes a hard time, but they are actually incredibly filling, full of nutrients and don’t have a huge amount of calories. It’s when you soak them up in tons of fat through deep frying, salt them up and add tons of ketchup over them – which in itself is full of sugar by the way – that you get an unhealthy calorie bomb. Also, while chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, chicken nuggets aren’t. Try boiling chicken breast and eating it with a couple of medium-sized baked potatoes with a nice salad, or a similar healthy recipe, instead of filling up on junk food.
3. Stay away from sweets and salty treats
Let’s get something out of the way – I hate the word treat. Loathe it. You are not a dog in training, so you shouldn’t have to reward yourself with food for being a half-decent human being. First of all, you don’t need food to reinforce positive behaviour, and second of all, following a healthier diet and being regular with your exercise is not something that elicits a reward – it’s something everyone should be doing in the first place. It’s a bit of tough love, I know, but forget about “treats” and eat only when you start to get hungry or need some energy after a workout.
4. Don’t snack or stress eat, only eat full and diverse meal that fill you up
You should avoid the term “snack” as well, and prepare yourself a full blown, albeit smaller meal every 3 hours. If you need something to keep your stomach busy before you can prepare a decent meal, a serving of fruit and nuts can do the trick. Making a protein powder, fruit, nut and veggie smoothie can be a quick meal replacement, but you should strive to always have something in your fridge that is healthy and easy to prepare.
5. Eat at least 3 large servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit a day
Speaking of food that’s easy to prepare – buy a bunch of fruit and vegetables, wash them thoroughly and shove them in the fridge. Whenever you sit down to eat, chop some vegetables up in a big salad bowl and don’t use any topping other than salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar (apple cider vinegar is the best choice). You can have a couple of oranges or apples, a bunch of berries or a banana and some nuts as a desert.
6. Fill up your plate as you normally would and then reduce it by one fifth
The biggest problems with losing weight are lack of impulse control and the inability to effectively restrict calories. Well, you only need a 500 calorie deficit to start losing weight at a steady pace, so cutting all that junk food and sodas down will have you covered. However, people often gorge themselves on healthy food – which, incidentally, can make you fat if you eat a lot of it, just like anything else – so, a safe way to control how much you eat is to go with a little less than your brain is telling you is necessary. Take out a good chunk out of that plate before you sit down to eat, and focus your attention on the salad bowl.
7. Try to work in 3-4 hours of moderate-to-heavy exercise a week
It doesn’t take a whole lot to activate your muscles and burn off some calories. Generally speaking, you can get away with two or three trips to the gym or home workout sessions per week. Add to this some running every other day and you’ve got yourself a decent training routine that will get you lean and firm in no time. You spend 45-60 minutes per workout and 15-20 minutes on running or cycling, so it adds up to no more than 3-4 hours a week.
8. Stay on your feet and move around as much as you can each day
Burning calories is all about moving, and even the little things you do throughout the day count towards the daily grand total of energy expended. Even household chores will burn off a good amount of calories if you take an hour or two out of your day to get things done. Even when you are at work, try to use your feet more and walk around while you think – it all adds up slowly, and you won’t have to worry about a sore back or joint pain.
The rules are simple enough, but it takes focus, dedication and determination to see things through and adopt a new lifestyle. Just stick through the first few months when things are toughest, and you’ll be able to get used it.