By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Have you ever gotten on the scale expecting things to have improved only to find the exact opposite? I know how demoralizing that can be, but I have good news. There are easy steps you can take to help you cultivate good habits that don’t take a lot of willpower. Changing the number of calories you eat is hard, so try these five healthy hacks to lose weight, and get that beach body in no time at all.
Logging everything you eat can have a powerful impact. Just writing down the things you put into your body will make you more aware of what you are eating and why. This will increase your willpower without much effort at all. In fact, people who are dieting lose twice as much weight when they keep a food diary. This isn’t calorie counting, per se. You can record the calories, but you don’t have to. Elevating your awareness of how much you are eating is what counts.
A food diary isn’t magic, though. There’s solid science behind the value of writing things down, and a weight-loss study on the value of food diaries exposed the essential elements required for a successful food diary:
Carry your food diary with you so you can log every time you eat. Practice estimating portion sizes until you can accurately record how much you eat when you go to a cafe or restaurant. (most people underestimate portion sizes).
Maybe a leather-bound journal from your favorite stationery store or an app on your phone is what you need. Some people use a spiral notebook; some of the best fitness journals are also the simplest. Whatever makes you more likely to keep up is the way you should go.
If you’ve over-indulged, be sure to write everything down. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just be aware. And you should certainly reward yourself for eating nutritional foods.
If you stay home for meals you are more likely to log them, and you will find it easier to track how much you are eating. The diary will make it easier to collect and organize nutrition tips that will help you to prepare nutritious meals, too. It helps to avoid fast food places, restaurants, and other eateries because they load your food up with sugar and fat to make it as delicious as possible.
Keeping all of your weight-loss data in the same place can help you stay organized and keep you focused. After you develop new habits and practices that help you reach your goals, you will find your food diary and workout logs become a source of inspiration and motivation you can look back on with pride.
Timing is everything. If you haven’t eaten when you do cardio, you may feel a little sluggish. This is because your blood sugar is low. The sluggish feeling tells your body to turn fat into sugar so you can have energy. This transformation of fat burns a lot of calories; calories you don’t get to burn if you’ve recently eaten. A recent study has shown compelling evidence for a link between fasted training and fat loss.
On the other hand, when you are doing strength-training, eating food before your workout can help. A high protein snack just before resistance training has been shown to increase your muscle growth. An additional protein snack at the end also benefits.
The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn when working out. Additionally, muscles burn calories when you are not working out, too. Doing little things that help you gain muscle will stack up over time and help you burn more calories.
High protein snacks have the added benefit of appetite suppression. If you are less hungry throughout the day, you will eat fewer sugary snacks and have more willpower.
Weight loss is all about willpower, and I have good news. Flavorful food is good for you, too. Foods that are high in sugar and fat may taste good, but they sacrifice flavor.
Focus on your meals tasting good. Chances are, if you have a wide range of taste on your plate, you will be eating nutritious meals with fewer calories. Fresh vegetables in your diet are a major source of flavor and can become a highlight of mealtime if you can taste them properly (ie: not drenched in fat or sugar).
Finding fruits and vegetables in season at your local farmer’s market can make for a fun outing in addition to enhancing the flavors on your plate.
Flavorful meals are easier to get when you make them at home. A little bit of planning will help you expand your flavor palate and save money at the same time.
A cooking class is one of the most reliable ways for you to explore and discover new flavors. You can even find classes that emphasize weight loss, but that’s not as important. If you learn how to cook better, you can embark on a voyage of discovery in your own kitchen and make it easier to incorporate healthy eating tips. The exploration of flavors is one of the most exciting and stimulating things you can do in life, and once you start you won’t want to stop.
Everybody is different, but we all live full lives. It’s hard for me to keep on top of my busy schedule, so when I make changes, it can introduce a lot of chaos. Having a healthy relationship with food is important to me.
An organized plan can help you identify the things that are holding you back and highlight the things that are pushing you forward. Sometimes you may even have two good ideas you are working on that contradict each other. For instance, you may want to buy a nice, high-end outfit, but you also want to lose some weight. If you buy the outfit and then lose weight you will have to get it tailored. That’s not the end of the world, but if you lose the weight first and then reward yourself with the new outfit, you get to skip the time and expense of getting your new clothes tailored.
How many of these healthy hacks will make your life better? Pick your favorite and give it a try right now.