A lot of people think that weight loss has to occur in 50 pound increments at a celebrity fitness boot camp. Truthfully, many people are looking to lose a smaller amount of weight and, even if you do need to lose 50 or more, you can make a big impact with small changes.
Losing weight is all about reversing the things that made you gain in the first place. There are two major categories of behavior that make people gain weight. The first is eating too many calories. How much is too much depends on your lifestyle and body type. The second behavior is being inactive.
Let’s take a look at a few ways that we can reverse each of these problems with small changes.
Eating Habits: Empty Calories
One of the biggest problems in most people’s diets is the number of empty calories. These are the foods that have a lot of calories but not much else in the way of nutrients. Foods like these are easy to eat because they don’t make you feel full. They also cause the strange problem of being overweight and malnourished at the same time. Many people get too many calories and still get so few vitamins and minerals from their diet that they suffer from micronutrient malnutrition.
The answer to this problem is treating food like fuel. When you put something on your plate, ask yourself if it’s helping you reach your goals. If food isn’t fueling you towards the finish line why are you putting it in your gas tank?
Some examples of empty calorie foods would by soda, salty snacks like potato chips, and high calorie coffee drinks like lattes. Taking one can of soda or latte out of your daily routine can cut 300-500 calories. That adds up to 1 pound of weight loss every 7-12 days without really doing anything.
Exercise Habits: Inactivity
Everyone talks about the obesity epidemic. More people are overweight in our society than ever before. One of the major causes of this problem is that sitting down is also an epidemic. Your job probably has you sitting or standing still for most of the day. Your busy schedule makes it very hard to do anything active even when you aren’t at work. The lack of physical activity leaves most of the calories you quickly consume on the way to work hanging around your waist.
Finding time for exercise can be tough. One of the best ways to stay active is to break it up into small pieces throughout the day. You may not have time to go for a run but you can probably sneak a few walks into your schedule. Instead of sitting down for a cup of coffee on your break, try walking around the building with a bottle of water or a protein bar. A couple of these walks each day will elevate your metabolism and actually make you more productive at work by increasing the blood flow to your brain.
Walking or biking is also a great way to make short trips rather than driving your car a few blocks. Again, you raise your metabolism, even after you’re done walking. You also save gas and reduce pollution.
Finally, you can be deliberate about making exercise fit into your tight schedule. Not all workouts have to be long to be effective. One of the best types of short workout is circuit training. Move quickly from one exercise to the next only taking a rest between each circuit (i.e. exercises a,b,c,d,e, then take a quick rest before starting back at a). By using a circuit you cut out extra rest time and shorten your workout without losing any of the effectiveness.