The Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that people who made small, potentially permanent changes in their lives every week lost twice as much belly fat, more inches, and four times more weight over a 4-month study than those who went the traditional diet/exercise route. The theory is that the incremental changes tend to be easier to adapt to your life over the long-haul, rather than an all-or-nothing diet that you see as having a beginning and an end.
I had a DUH! moment not too long ago. It was so ridiculously obvious it was ashamed to be in the same vicinity of an AHA! moment.
It occurred to me I could eat half an English muffin. I didn’t have to eat the whole thing. Duh. And it would save me money at the grocery store. Double Duh!
Maybe some of these ideas you already know, but maybe some will be Aha! or even Duh! moments for you. In no particular order …
• Some things make you look fatter than you really are. Chewing gum … drinking carbonated drinks … eating broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage can all gas up your GI tract, at least, um, temporarily. Being dehydrated (which is also a by-product of drinking too much diet soda) or eating too much salt or having your period can bloat you up and make you look bigger. So can huge horizontal stripes, of course, but that’s beyond the scope of my help. Just say no to scary patterned clothes. Unless you like people to say, “Pardon me? I can’t hear you. Your shirt is too loud.”
• Read this blog at least every week, and preferably more often. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente found that people who read about diet and fitness on a regular basis were more active and ate healthier.
• Eat real food. When you’re in the produce department of the grocery store you never pick up a potato and say, “I wonder what’s in this.” But look at the ingredients on a bag of potato chips. That poor potato has morphed into something unrecognizable. It’s not real food anymore. Crack an egg instead of pouring Egg Beaters. Use butter instead of margarine. Cheese instead of Cheetos. Pure dark chocolate instead of M&Ms. Figs instead of Fig Newtons. Chicken breasts instead of chicken nuggets.
• Save alcohol for dessert. Drinking before dinner can lead to drinking more than you should because you’re hungry. As a double-whammy, it revs up your appetite.
• Get enough sleep. Studies of middle-aged women (you know, women five years older than we are) found that sleeping five hours or less put them 32% more likely to gain weight and 15% more likely to be obese. Another study found that over 11 days, a group of sleep-deprived participants gained 3 pounds compared with the well-rested control group. Aim for at least seven hours every night.
• Chew gum while you’re cooking or baking to remind you not to nibble. Or keep raw celery or carrots handy if you must nibble. (Yes, I realize I just told you not to chew gum. But only if it makes you gassy.)
• I don’t do this, but lots of people swear by pedometers. They say it keeps them motivated and again, it’s that self-awareness thing like keeping a food journal. If I wasn’t so cheap and lazy I’d buy one of those Body Bugs that track your calories in and out.
Which will you try first? Which will you never try? Which do you already do?