15 Simple Changes To Lose Weight In Time For The Holidays

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If you are like most people, you are really looking forward to the holidays: Parties, food, fun, and spending time with family and friends. What you probably aren’t looking forward to is finding something to wear that will hide those 15 or 20 pounds you have picked up since the last holiday party.

Want to sparkle in that snug party dress? Do you want to walk into your office party feeling confident about how you look? It’s not as hard as you might think.

Someone once quipped that “Diet is DIE with a t.”  Most people feel that way about dieting — as if they need to starve themselves nearly to death to lose weight, but that is just an old wives tale.

Although you probably know that losing weight isn’t something that will happen overnight, what you might not know is that all it really takes is a few simple and easy changes to your life in order to lose weight easily but gradually.

Incorporating most of the following 15 changes into your everyday meal plan can go a long way toward helping you reach your goal of wearing something fabulous this holiday season.

Want to know more? Keep reading and find out how easy it can be to lose weight gradually, without starving yourself or living on carrots.

 

1. Change Your Plate

It sounds too simple to possibly work, but study after study says that it does: Using smaller plates (and therefore, smaller portions) really tricks your brain into thinking you are eating more than you actually are. For some reason, using blue plates also seems to cut appetites. Why do you think most fast food places use red and yellow? Because studies show that red and yellow increases appetites, while blue reduces your level of hunger. Scientists are not sure why this is, but numerous studies back it up. Use a large blue bowl for salads and a larger glass for water, but food portions should be consumed on a smaller, blue plate.

 

2.  Look For Healthy Alternatives

Again, you don’t have to live on “rabbit food” to get results. Most of your favorite unhealthy foods have healthier substitutions that can drastically cut calories and fat. Try some low fat milk or coconut oil in your coffee instead of cream or half and half. Exchange mayo for mustard or avocado, eat your favorite sandwich ‘open face,’ and try oatmeal with fruit for breakfast instead of donuts. There are hundreds of substitutions that will dramatically lower calorie count, without making you feel deprived or like you are missing out on flavor.

 

3.  Gradually Get Rid Of Unhealthy Habits

Changing some bad habits is probably the most difficult thing about losing weight. The problem is that most people figure it’s a black or white thing — that they can just stop doing things they have done most of their lives like changing their shoes. It isn’t that easy. People who try to go cold turkey usually end up falling off the wagon. Rather than try to make huge changes in your life, start making gradual changes a few at a time. If you usually eat a bag of potato chips with lunch, cut that to half a bag, and enjoy some baby carrots, too. If you usually drink soda during the day, drink a glass of water for every glass of soda. If you enjoy a bowl of ice cream after dinner, try frozen yogurt instead. You will be much more likely to stick to slow changes than trying to stop cold turkey.

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Stevia leaves with stevia powder and sugar cubes on a slate plat

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4.  Don’t Eat On The Go

You have probably heard by now that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that you have had enough to eat. To get that message, you need to slow down so that your body gets the message. Take smaller bites, chew a bit longer, set down your fork for a few big sips of water, and sit down at the table, minus the television, cell phone, or tablet. Slow down while you eat and pay attention to what you are eating so that your brain has time to send your stomach the “all full” sign.

 

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Of The Worst Foods To Never Eat Again

 

5.  Drink This Before You Work Out

Green tea has the perfect balance of antioxidants and caffeine that will really fuel your workout. Not only has green tea been linked to improved metabolism, but it will also give you more energy and focus. Several studies have shown that those who drink green tea before exercise experienced more fat loss than those who did not. Be sure that you are drinking freshly brewed green tea, not the bottled crap typically sold at the gym. Brew real green tea from Japan fresh at home and take it with you.

 

6. Start Reducing Sugar Consumption

Sugar is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to weight problems. It is so easy to guzzle down hundreds of calories in a few sodas on a hot afternoon and never notice it.  To make a huge impact on your weight, start reducing your sugar consumption a bit at a time. The easiest way to cut sugar out of your life is to start with some of the worst offenders at every meal. Don’t eat donuts or sugary cereals for breakfast; instead, try oatmeal with fresh fruit or nuts. Instead of a candy bar as a mid-day snack, have a handful of nuts or seeds. Instead of soda with your lunch, try water, herbal teas, or sparkling water with a squeeze of fruit juice. Fill up at least half of your dinner plate with vegetables, and eat a big salad before you try anything else on the table.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

7.  Speaking Of Salad…

Salads are one of the best ways to fill up your stomach, get tons of nutrition, and not add a great deal of calories. What seems to be the pitfall for most salads is the dressing. We take a healthy salad, filled with vegetables, and then drown it in fattening, calorie-laden, sugar-filled salad dressings. Save yourself at least 100 calories, or more, by using the old fashioned oil and vinegar salad dressings. You can also try some of the many varieties of balsamic vinegars which add tons of flavor for almost no calories. Many people find that simply squeezing lime or lemon juice over their salads gives it the zing they want without the calories they don’t want.

 

8.  Shop The Perimeter

The outside perimeter of your grocery store is generally where the healthiest foods are located. Usually, the outside aisles are where you will find produce, eggs, beans, rice, yogurt, meat, and water. It’s the middle of the store where you usually find the calorie-laden, processed foods such as frozen pizza, candy, potato chips, and mac and cheese.

 

9. Drink Water Or Eat An Apple Before Each Meal

Water is a dieter’s best friend. It fills you up and keeps your metabolism going. When your body is dehydrated, it sends signals that your brain will mistake for hunger. About 20 minutes before you eat, drink a glass of water. If you truly cannot wait until dinner, or find that your stomach is growling even after you drink water, eat an apple.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

10. Use Those Legs!

Your legs are the biggest and strongest muscles in the body. They will burn the biggest percentage of calories, so look for ways to use those legs as much as possible. Park at the furthest end of the parking lot and walk. Get off the bus one or two stops before your normal stop, and walk the rest of the way (if it is safe to do so, of course). Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get up and walk to speak to your boss or co-worker instead of calling them, if possible. Look for ways to use your legs to burn more calories without actually doing any exercise.

 

11. Find Your Triggers

People eat for many different reasons other than hunger. Sometimes we eat because we are bored, simply because something smells good, because we feel that it is ‘time’ to eat, or because of stress. The next time you feel like you want a snack, try to determine if you are eating because you are hungry or because of something else.  A good trick is to try to find something else to do for 10 to 15 minutes. If you are still hungry after that time, then go eat a healthy snack, but many people find that after a few minutes, their urge to eat has disappeared.

 

12.  Think Protein

Protein is about to become your new best friend. Protein takes your body much longer to digest, so you will feel fuller for a much longer period of time.  Protein will also result in your body building more muscle and storing fewer calories as fat. Eat at least some protein at every meal. This means meat, eggs, nuts, beans, or milk.

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Set Of Stamps

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13. Be Aware Of Deceptive Labels

Many foods that Americans eat are actually unhealthy, but due to clever marketing campaigns, they believe that these foods are healthy. For example, many sugary breakfast cereals will claim that they are “made from whole grain.” This is only partially true. Yes, this product probably started off as a whole grain, but after processing and added chemicals (including tons of sugar), it no longer resembles anything like a whole grain, healthy cereal! Does anyone really believe that chocolate-puffed cereals are healthy, even if the label screams about whole grains? This is also true with many low-fat foods. They are lower in fat, sure, but then manufacturers add sugar and salt to make up for lost flavor. Your best bet is to make your own meals from truly fresh, organic foods. If you feel that you must use processed foods to save time, always read the labels.

 

14. Try An Exercise Ball At Work

For many of us, our jobs involve sitting behind a desk most of the day. If you can’t get your company or boss to invest in a treadmill or standing desk, then buy your own exercise ball, and use it as much as possible during the day. Experts say that sitting on an exercise ball, rather than a typical office chair, can burn as many as 350 calories each day. You get a workout of your legs, butt, back, and core muscles while you work. It might feel awkward at first, but you will be surprised at how quickly you will become accustomed to it. Start off with just 10 or 15 minutes each hour, and gradually work your way up to sitting on it during your working hours. If you cannot do this for whatever reason, use one at home while you are watching television or chatting on the phone.

 

15.  Look For Quick Exercise

There really are countless ways that you can get more exercise, which will burn more calories without even trying. Learn to be ‘inefficient.’ When filling up your glass of water at the water cooler, only fill it halfway. This way you can make twice as many trips to the cooler. Take items from downstairs back upstairs one at a time, rather than putting them in a basket and carrying them all at one time. Use a push mower rather than a self-propelled lawn mower. Rake leaves instead of using a leaf blower. Use a broom to sweep the driveway or patio rather than using the hose. Walk your dog for an extra 10 or 15 minutes each day. Do pushups or sit ups during commercial breaks. Put your treadmill near your television and walk at least half of the time your program or movie is on. Use the timer on your phone or even the old fashioned kitchen timers. Set it to go off every 30 minutes. When it does, get up and walk for at least three minutes. This will give you almost an hour worth of walking every single day!

There are hundreds of other ways that you can squeeze in tiny bits of exercise every day. Those little bits of exercise really add up over time.

Don’t focus so much on losing weight, but more on being healthy and fit. Spending your life looking for ways to stay healthy will help you to live a longer, happier life. Spending your life thinking that you are dieting, well, that really would be DIE with a “t,” wouldn’t it?

References:

Eurekalert.org

Forbes.com

Edition.cnn.com

Ajcn.nutrition.org