Feeling a little too soft in the middle these days? Don’t let the holidays be an excuse to let yourself go. Maintaining a healthy weight can be tricky with office cookies in the break room. Multiply that by the doughnuts in the morning and bowls of chocolate candy aplenty, and you have yourself one difficult task.
And forget the temptations that only come along with this time of year; keeping those extra pounds at bay is a tall order no matter what the season. Still, if you’re out of shape, it’s time to turn things around. Here are seven changes you need to make immediately.
1. Try the one-mile rule
The one-mile rule means trading the gas pedal for walking shoes when your destination is less than a mile away. In today’s rat-race world, it’s often much easier to hop in the car, then zip down to the market instead of hoofing it. But this small change can really add up. According to Prevention, “Americans use their cars for two-thirds of all trips that are less than one mile and 89% of all trips that are one to two miles, yet each additional hour you spend driving is associated with a 6% increase in obesity.” That’s pretty shocking.
One, even two miles, isn’t a far distance to travel. If you’re not racing against an important deadline, or needing to run home to put out any house fires, hitting the pavement is much better for your physical health, not to mention you’re probably better off mentally, too.
2. Mix up your workout routine
Most people know the importance of keeping things interesting, especially in the gym. Like anything else, your body becomes immune to your workout routine if you do the same moves over and over again. When this happens, your body is telling your muscles it’s OK to get comfortable, propelling them into a dreaded state of stagnation. So, it’s vital to mix it up. “You’ll challenge your muscles in new ways, work them at a variety of angles, and improve your balance,” celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson told Health. Exercise that creativity to make the absolute most of every minute you spend working out.
3. Drink more water
Of all the diet truths, myths, and fads out there, this is one that’s up against zero naysayers. There are just too many benefits to deny. Making water your go-to beverage — swapping it for soda, juice, or coffee — will not only make you feel better, but it’ll also make you look better.
Water can even help you eat less than you normally would. According to Eating Well, drinking two cups of water before you eat will help you feel full sooner, and in turn can help you lose weight. Couple that with water’s ability to regulate your metabolism and keep your body performing its best, and there’s simply no arguing this one.
4. Stop eating in front of the TV
Most of us eat in front of the TV at least once in a while. And if we’re really being honest with ourselves, it probably happens more often than we’d like. If your coffee table sees more dinnertime use than the one in your kitchen, it’s time to make a change.
Making a conscious effort to keep the TV and other electronics off while you’re dining is an easy solution for working your way toward a healthier weight, and overall lifestyle. Today reports, “Studies show that we eat around 40% more when watching TV and we’re more likely to eat junk food while distracted.” We’re not saying you shouldn’t take time to decompress after a long day, but just save your favorite series for after you’ve finished eating your meal at the table.
5. Brown bag it during the workweek
Running out for lunch is probably one of the biggest midday temptations. Not only are you starving and craving something delicious, but you also need a break from the office (and your co-workers). But don’t let your need to break out of your cubicle be your excuse to eat out every day. There are better ways to make use of your time.
Now for what you should eat: a lunch you pack yourself. David Just, behavioral economist at Cornell University, told The Huffington Post packing a lunch is less expensive and also tends to be healthier. You’re fully in charge of portion size and ingredients, plus having your lunch packed in advance will help you avoid getting so hungry that you’re reaching for unhealthy, grab-and-go alternatives.
Not all homemade lunches have to be basic, either. Break out of your turkey on rye rut with sandwiches that are as delicious as they are healthy.
6. Eat more fiber
Fiber has multiple talents — it fills you up and keeps you regular: both processes related to maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, Mayo Clinic says high-fiber foods “tend to take longer to eat and to be less ‘energy dense,’ which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.” In simpler terms, you can eat a lot more if you go for foods rich in this nutrient. Fiber for the win.
7. Swap high-fat condiments for healthier alternatives
Some of the most popular condiments are loaded with calories, sugar, and saturated fat. Though it can be tempting to dress your sandwich, salad, or burger with these spreads, there’s a better way. Simply trade them in for healthier alternatives, especially spicy ones. Dr. Lynn Anderson suggests swapping spicy mustard for mayo. As she explained to Shape, it’s a better option because it “amps up the metabolism by creating a heat effect in the body.” This is a simple solution that will certainly pay off in the long run.