When I left college, I had put on 50lbs and was desperate to adopt some healthy and easily implementable habits to lighten the load (the one around my waistband that is).
As I have written elsewhere on this blog, I adopted a Mediterranean diet for the most part (among others over shorter periods) and started running!
These were the main weight loss tools in my armory, but what about the other stuff in between?
The issue was I had developed a ton of bad habits! Habits that were making me fat and uncomfortable with my weight!
So, in addition to dieting and exercise, which I considered to be quite demanding, I also wanted to develop some good lifestyle habits!
So I got to work and began reading every nutrition, weight loss and lifestyle book and blog I could!
And…after trying out a lot of different healthy habits, I narrowed it down to just a few that I think really made a difference to my weight loss goals!
So, I wanted to share them with you. Let’s take a look!
1. Drink a lot of Water
I used to get hungry a lot.
At my worst, every 30 minutes I used to feel like I wanted another snack.
Totally not good for belly busting!
Sometimes I would give in to my cravings and snack out, but other times I would drink fluids instead!
Eventually I realized that drinking water tended to hold off my cravings for longer than I ever thought was possible.
So, I tried drinking water a lot more regularly (like every 15 minutes) and I noticed massive improvements in my cravings.
Yes, I peed a lot more, but that was worth the hassle if it meant I wasn’t diving into the snack tin every 30 minutes.
The key to this is that your stomach can trick you into thinking you’re hungry when you’re in fact just thirsty! That was clearly what was happening with me.
So instead of heading for that mid morning snack, top up your water bottle instead!
But make sure you stick to water as you can be sure that’s calorie free!
2. cut your portion sizes
In the western world, we have become way too accustomed to eating too much food.
We simply do not need to eat as much as we do to sustain ourselves. This is just a bad habit, not a necessity!
Like all bad habits, it can be kicked into the long grass with a little discipline!
You’ve probably noticed that people living in Asian countries are generally much skinnier than us!
But why is this?
There are several reasons but one of them is because Asian people tend eat smaller portions at meal times and therefore have a lower calorie intake.
Obviously cutting calories is great for weight loss, but surely you’ll just top up those calories by snacking later on, no?
Surprisingly, studies have found no evidence of this actually happening and the idea of smaller portions creating a “calorie deficit” was not found to be accurate.
Essentially, by eating smaller portions, the participants in these studies were able to reduce calories without the body clocking on to this.
When I put this to the test myself, I found it difficult at first, but my firm belief is that it was just psychological.
Over time, the feeling of not being satisfied after a smaller dinner, abated and I began to not notice the difference.
So, try cutting your portion sizes down for a few weeks.
It will be tough at first but that will pass and you’ll be soon shaving calories off without even knowing it.
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3. take breakfast seriously
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”!
This advice is as good today as it has ever been!
Throughout most of my college days, 9 times out of 10 I would skip breakfast completely.
I would then snack my way to lunch, eating all sorts of nasty processed and sweet treats to keep me going!
After leaving college, I cut this habit right out and made a concerted effort to get up for breakfast everyday!
By doing this I felt I made real progress with my weight loss goals.
By having a filling and nutritious breakfast, I felt super energized for the day and by eating the correct foods, I was able to keep those hunger pangs at bay!
Oatmeal porridge with blueberries is a personal favorite of mine, as is rye bread with eggs and avocado! I never feel hungry before midday when I eat these for breakfast.
So, treat breakfast like a priority and not an after thought!
Check out my breakfast ideas here for some other super nutritious, yummy and filling breakfast ideas!
4. get some sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body!
Sleep deprivation is linked to a whole host of health issues including heart disease, cancer and diabetes!
Lack of sleep is also a recipe for disaster if you’re looking to slim down!
Without adequate sleep your body will produce excess hormones including cortisol, ghrelin and leptin which have all been shown to increase appetite!
Not good for any weight watcher!
Our lives are all getting busier and busier and our brains are constantly switched on, wired into something or other!
So it’s essential you take some time to wind down after a busy day! Try reading a book, yoga or listening to music to prep you up for sleep.
And forget the idea of catching up on sleep at the weekend. You cannot repay a sleep debt that quickly!
Instead, hit the hay a littler earlier and try for 8 hours or whatever your body needs so you aren’t feeling tired in the day!
5. eat more slowly
The connection between your stomach and your brain can take a little time to catch up with one and other!
Therefore when you start eating it takes around 15 minutes before your brain starts to produce a feeling of fullness!
The key is to slow down your intake of food at the dinner table and give your brain a chance to catch up.
That way you will avoid overeating which is only going to result in you taking in excess calories for that meal!
So enjoy a chat, a drink and chew your food properly rather than wolfing it down like you’ve just been released from prison!
6. move more
Time really is of the essence for pretty much everyone I know, including me!
We all want to get where we’re going quicker, come home quicker and take the easiest route possible!
Our lives are just way too sedentary for the most part.
The truth is humans are designed to move, not to sit!
We’re all missing out on easy exercise that overtime can make a big difference!
So try moving a little more. For example:-
- Take the stairs not the elevator
- Park in the furthest parking space not the closest
- Walk to the convenience store rather than driving
- Try walking, running or cycling to work once a week
Yes, some of these things aren’t going to have you shedding hundreds of pounds in one go, but over time the little wins do add up, believe me!
Not only that but you’ll get yourself into the mindset of exercise not being all that bad, which I know can be hard to break from when we are inactive or living a sedentary lifestyle!
So, people get moving!
I really believe that weight loss doesn’t have to be limited narrowly with just a strict exercise or diet regime!
My own experience is that changing a lot of small things can make a big difference in the long run.
These lifestyle changes really aren’t too taxing and I am sure if you implement just a few of them, you’ll soon be seeing measurable benefits to your weight loss goals!
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About the author
Catherine holds a bachelor of science degree and is a registered mental health nurse.
She is a self-confessed health and fitness freak, nutrition fanatic and mental health boffin.
Read more of my posts