By: Alix Hecht
Demanding schedules are often the thing which leads us to make subconscious unhealthy choices.
Unhealthy food choices are alright (even encouraged) in moderation, food is an important part of our overall happiness and treating ourselves to the occasional slice of chocolate cake isn't a sin. However, continual unhealthy patterns are what generally results in weight gain over time, or not being able to shift pesky pounds which often leave you feeling perplexed as to why.
Many of us feel that we lead relatively healthy lives, and sometimes we feel that the scales/skinny jeans simply don’t reflect our actions.
On the flip-side there are also many of us who know we make bad choices but simply don't have the time or money to change our lives drastically enough to live a better life.
That's why I've compiled a list of 18 ways to help you to lose weight without trying. These are my simple 'hacks' for combining a hectic life with healthier choices. My hope is that you can drill down to the source which is keeping you from your goal.
1- As Bob Marley said "Turn Your Lights Down Low"
Turn the lights out when you sleep or wear an eye mask.
Now there are actually two reasons why your bedtime light is keeping you from losing weight; natural and artificial light ( the kind you get from your phone, street lamps or bathroom light ) wreak havoc on your metabolism. Now, the science behind it is pretty complicated, but there have been several studies performed which prove that light disturbs your sleep ( which is the second reason light is dangerous because this could cause you to wake up and eat ), and reduces your resting metabolic rate; which is SO vital for weight loss.
2- Arrange Your Work and living space to be organized and clean
We've all heard the phrase, cleanliness is next to Godliness and that also might be said for 'slim-ness'. Our work stations, study desks or home being in disarray actually create a sense of chaos in your mind. It can throw you off your eating schedule ( and schedules are really important for a healthy life ). Cleaning up your work station or home will also boost your self-esteem, relaxing you and helping to avoid emotional or stress eating.
3- Carry around a re-usable water bottle wherever you go
I absolutely adore my water bottle; it's plastic, with a cute pink lid with sparkly butterflies and I just adore looking at it. Carrying it in your daily bag wherever you go will means that every time you reach into to your shoulder purse to look at your phone, grab your wallet or apply lip balm you'll see the water bottle and be reminded to take a sip. I don't need to mention how imperative hydration is to overall health and weight loss.
4- Brush your teeth after your meals
Brushing your teeth after meals and using mouthwash will help prevent you from reaching for snacks in between meals ( especially after your main evening meal ), brushing your teeth properly will leave the minty taste in your mouth and you won't want to grab a bag of potato chips after your dinner.
5- Set a timer on your phone whilst eating your main meals
Whilst eating breakfast on the go is often a necessity, try eating the rest of your meals in 25 minutes. If your meal consists of a salad, or a lean meat with vegetables, this should seem to be a pretty long time in the beginning but there's a huge amount of psychology behind it, and as we know, we often eat because we "psychologically" feel hungry, not physically. When we wolf down food as we go, spending one or two minutes on the food, first of all the food isn't disgested properly, our brain doesn't have time to adedquately tell us "your full", and you also haven't had the emotional satisfaction which comes from just sitting and eating; enjoying the taste of your food. This could lead you to even forget you ate lunch in the first place and have you eating a bag of chips in the afternoon!
6- Do not watch TV/play on tablets or phones 2 hours before bed
As I mentioned before, light plays an important part in our bodies sleep and metablism signals and one of the most important parts of our lives is sleeping. In order to successfully lead a healthier life and lose weight we must sleep 7-8 hours a day. The things which commonly prevent us from sleeping are electrical devices, which overstimulate our brains and lead us to sleeping less; which, in turn leads to us eating more during the day and our metabolisms functioning at a slower rate.
7- Glug water, but sip alcohol
Alcohol is one of the things which leads us to gain weight and not lose it. Alcohol not only depletes our body of vital nutrients, dehydrates us but also can lower your consciousness about what you’re eating ( how many chips did I have with that second glass of wine? ). Easier ways to "drink smart" ( if you're of age, of course! ) is to have a glass of water with every alcoholic drink, mix wines and spirits with seltzer and just avoid cocktails completely.
8- Create a batch of iced green tea
Drinking Hot green tea might not be possible when you're the go, but making a pitcher the night before and storing it in your freezer at home then taking it to work is a no brainer. Green tea is packed with antioxidants and other amazing benefits to weight loss and suppressing your appetite.
9- Drink ice cold water
Drinking Ice Cold Water helps to eliminate hunger but also does something else to the body; it actually burns calories! Your body has to work hard to heat the water up once you've drank it, so you're creating a super-efficient way to burn and suppress!
10- Turn the automatic light off in your fridge
Sometimes, like checking our phones, going to the fridge can simply be a subconscious move. We don't even realize we're doing it. You can tape down the light on the refrigerator, this means that when you get up at night to make yourself a cheese sandwich you will snap back into "OK, now's not a meal time" mode.
11- Ban Nothing
Humans are complicated, but hugely predictable. The moment we "ban" something, what happens? We obsess over it. Whenever we put our minds in the "we can't touch this" state of mind, we are inevitably just going to give in, which might lead to "well, screw it, diet's ruined for today" mentality, or lead us to feel bad about ourselves. If you ban nothing, you're actually far more in control of your choices.
12- Get to know your menstrual cycle
Our menstrual cycle has such an effect on our appetite, mood and overall feelings of control and happiness. Our bodies go through a massive change in the days leading up to our periods; bloating, cramps, mood swings, boats of depression and if we don't recognize this as simple PMS then we can start to feel pretty bad. I remember feeling really down and teary over movies, hopeless and hungry for junk and I couldn't figure out why! I downloaded a free app for my phone which monitors my period and when I check the calendar for days where I know I'm suffering from PMS, I'm extremely conscious that these are the days where I should be more aware of what I'm eating/doing. On these days, I drink a lot of extra green tea to combat the bloating and I take it easy. Our hormones can be a silent diet killer!
13- Tell someone close to you that you’re trying to watch what you eat
Telling a spouse, colleague, roommate or sibling that you're trying to eat healthier is a good idea. Your sister won't suggest ordering pizza for the third night in a row and your colleague probably won't invite you for burgers after work.
14- Cool it!
Now, I'm really not suggesting going overboard on this one and moving into an igloo, but science has shown that you burn more calories when you're cold. Our fat cells sense cold immediately, and release energy to heat up. Stored fat cells feel the cold and use calories like coal for heat. Generally speaking, most office spaces are pretty cold; people just choose whether or not to put on extra layers. Lower your body temperature by chugging that iced water and losing the extra sweater. No one is suggesting being at a stage where you're uncomfortably cold, however, your body adapts to new temperatures pretty easily ( by guess what, using calories to burn fat ), so test it out in your regular environment, the science is there to back it up!
15- Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
This one involves some sort of effort, but not much. Plan your meals so that you’re eating your desired calorie amount, even if you eat most of your meals out ( as many of us do nowadays ), familiarize yourself with the choices around you, know what’s in them, know how to cut down the unnecessary add-ons ( the sauces, the hidden calories ). If you can’t plan meals yourself then there are plenty of free apps to help you. Knowing what you’re going to eat on a particular day means you’ll generally stick to the plan, and you won’t make a bad choice because it was 2pm, you were ready to eat your table, and didn’t know what to make!
16- Don’t eat past 8pm
There are several articles which say that you shouldn’t eat carbs past 5pm, or eat at all past 5pm, personally, I think that’s just setting yourself up for failure by initiating a ‘ban’, which will lead to failure. If you’ve followed your meal plan, drank enough water, you shouldn’t be hungry after 8pm. If you are hungry, then you’re not eating enough during the day or drinking enough water.
17- Grocery shop online
The supermarket is one of the biggest pitfalls of diets. Many of us shop when we’re hungry and come home, unpack and discover that 1- there’s no real food here and 2- we’re not millionaires, we need to eat what we’ve bought. Shopping online means you stick to your list, aren’t tempted by clever product placement and buy exactly what you need. This will also help your wallet as well as your waistline.
18- Really love yourself
Realize why you’re making the changes in your life and remind yourself of them every day. Picture yourself, at the finishing line and imagine how good that’s going to feel. There are many important people in our lives; our partners, our parents our children or even employers, but we cannot be the best we need to be for them or make them happy, unless we love ourselves. This isn’t being selfish or self-serving, it’s reality. A happy, goal-orientated person, emanates happiness and is a beacon of influence.
Thanks for reading, and I would love to hear feedback on any of my tips/tricks or even if you have variations of your own.