If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know how challenging and frustrating it can be. It can feel like pushing a boulder uphill, but it just keeps sliding back on you. Thankfully, there are simple swaps that you can utilize in life for easy weight loss and better overall health.
Assuming you are basically healthy, with no metabolic or hormonal imbalances underlying the excess weight, implementing these six simple things will make the weight fall off just a bit faster and easier.
1. Ditch the late-night screen time in favor of extra Zzzzs
Too much time in front of a TV, computer, phone, or other artificial light-source begins to disrupt the body’s natural hormone regulation, which affects sleep quality, hunger and satiety, and digestion and metabolic rate. Plus, when staring at a screen it can be all too easy to munch aimlessly (which doesn’t happen when you’re sleeping).
Furthermore, reducing sleep time increases the body’s caloric need, and research suggests women, in particular, are more likely to overeat the following evening. In addition, studies have found that those who get adequate sleep nightly weigh less, lose weight quicker, and keep it off longer than those who don’t sleep enough.
This is your chance to go to bed a bit earlier, aiming for 7-9 quality hours of deep sleep per night.
2. Swap high-calorie drinks for tea
The simple act of switching out one 150-calorie soda per day for 0-calorie tea (or water) can result in up to 15 pounds of weight lost in a single year. Even diet soda can be problematic, as the sweet taste tricks your body into craving more sweets.
Likewise, watch out for ‘healthy’ juices, sweetened teas, meal-replacement shakes, and other sources of dense liquid calories, all of which quickly add up.
Tea, as compared to water, has been found to mildly boost caloric burn, particularly in combination with exercise. It also lowers cholesterol and inflammation and helps regulate blood sugar and cortisol, all of which when out of balance can negatively impact your ability to lose weight.
3. Replace negative thoughts with those of gratitude
Negative thoughts, especially those belittling your body or yourself, or those repeating how fat you are, are not conducive to weight loss. They make your body want to keep the weight on as a self-protective mechanism. Plus, they don’t help you make smart choices about the right fuel for your body or help you tune into what your body really needs and wants (perhaps a little TLC?). It’s very similar to nurturing and raising children: positive reinforcement is always kinder and more productive than criticism and complaint.
To help you get in a more positive frame of mind, consider writing in a gratitude journal daily. Ideally, you’ll write what about your body you were grateful for that day: perhaps stopping you from a fall, having the strength to pick up a child, or moving freely while dancing or walking. Then, anytime you’re about to criticize your body, remember all the good your body does for you, and repeat statements of positivity and gratitude.
Eventually your body will happily let go of excess weight, and regardless of size or shape, you’ll be more willing to love yourself and the way you look.
4. Eliminate snacking and find something else to do
How often do you snack when you’re not really hungry? Perhaps because you’re bored, lonely, upset, sleepy, or just procrastinating? Not only are those needless calories, those “snacks” can easily turn into binges to drown feelings, numb out, or distract yourself from the real issue. And by then, you’re way beyond a 100-calorie snack pack.
Depending what your mood is and what your body really needs, consider going for a walk outside, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air; meditate to calming music while taking deep breaths; have a quick nap; or call a positive friend for an uplifting chat.
Your emotions, energy level, waistline, and likely your digestion, too, will thank you for making this change.
5. Convert your workouts from cardio-based to strength-based
Research has suggested long bouts of cardio (running or biking in excess of 30 minutes at a time) can actually decrease muscle mass, as the body catalyzes muscle to fuel the long workout (instead of burning fat). Muscle mass is fundamental to maintaining calorie-burning metabolism because of the fuel required by muscles.
A strength-training program can help you add lean muscle, which will help boost your metabolic rate, and improve weight loss results. You can choose to lift heavy objects (children, furniture, tires, or actual weights, or anything else you can find) or just do body-weight exercise whenever and wherever convenient.
Forcing yourself to run for long periods is not the answer if you want to lose weight and be metabolically healthy; weight training is a better choice.
6. Exchange processed carbs for vegetables
While the media battles back and forth whether cutting carbohydrates or fats is the answer to weight loss, everyone seems to agree, it is imperative to reduce consumption of processed, refined carbohydrates and packaged foods. Even when they’re not loaded with sugar, those white carbs are immediately converted to sugar in the body, and the excess sugar is converted to fat for storage. Plus, refined carbs don’t offer much by way of satiety and often lead to further cravings later.
Vegetables, however, are a different story. Increasing intake of fiber-rich veggies actually helps regulate blood sugar spikes and helps you feel full longer. The fiber also helps bind to excess estrogen and other toxins in your colon to finish carrying them out of the system. The nutrients in veggies help with metabolic processes necessary for burning fat and losing weight. And, these vegetables are far from calorie-dense, so you can fill up on them without exceeding your calorie budget.
These six swaps may seem straight-forward, but the results they produce can be substantial. Implementing all of them can add up to many pounds lost in a single year.
If you’re ready to get started, choose one that seems accessible for you right now and begin making it a habit. Once you’ve got one locked in, move on to the next. You’ll be astonished at the changes.