If you have been trying to lose weight lately, I know that it can be hard sometimes.
If you try to make a lot of changes all of a sudden to your existing lifestyle, you are bound to face some internal resistance and you are more likely to give up soon.
But if you can convert these changes into habits, then your entire weight-loss journey becomes seamless as habits don’t require as much willpower, as making decisions on an everyday basis.
The following habits are just simple tricks to bring your body on the right track and live a healthier and happier life.
Top 10 Habits to Lose Weight
1. Drink Water
Nearly 70% of our body is made of water and our body requires it to perform body functions properly and to remove toxins from the body.
Drinking water is one of the best ways to increase the metabolic rate of our body which is one of the important factors to help you lose weight. A study done by a team of researchers found that water alone can make you significantly lose weight even if you don’t make other changes in diet and exercise routine( 1, 2 ).
If your body is not sufficiently hydrated, it can negatively affect your mood and cognitive functioning. Water by itself does not have any calories and drinking it at regular intervals can control hunger and prevent you from eating unnecessary calories.
Start your day with a glassful of water and keep yourself hydrated and you will see a noticeable difference within a day.
2. Walking is the new Black
Walking which was considered boring once has grown in popularity and offers numerous benefits according to recent scientific studies.
Most people these days spend most of their day sitting and barely any physical activity. This can be detrimental to our overall health. Walking is one of the easiest things you can do as it requires no special equipment or skills, has no age barrier and its absolutely FREE.
A simple 5-10 minutes walk after your meals can not only help you burn a few calories but also aid in digestion. I have been averaging between 7,000 to 9,000 steps on a daily basis on my GoQii band in the recent months (Earlier my iPhone showed an average of 2,000 daily steps). I would soon like to achieve my target of 10,000 steps each day.
Many people get overwhelmed with the prospect of going to a gym or doing other exercises, but walking for 30 to 45 minutes each day is something that all of us can do.
3. Less Sugar, Less Salt
There is nothing worse than having excess sugar in your diet. Sugar adds calories in your diet but provides no nutrients at all. Excess consumption of sugar is linked with increased risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes (3, 4).
But, you should make a clear distinction between natural sugars and added sugars. The natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables is considered healthy as it also provides you with other nutrients. But added sugars which are found in processed foods and sweetened beverages are best to avoid.
Similarly, the salt found in salty snacks can also be addictive as it’s hard to satisfy oneself with just one chip or fries. This is the reason when you eat one, its very likely that you will crave more and finish the entire pack in one go. Salt consists of sodium and high sodium foods cause water retention in the body. This can make you feel and look bloated.
If you want to lose weight, cutting back on sugar and salt is the first thing you should do.
4. Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of your day and it’s imperative to have it right.
A healthy breakfast will not only make you feel full and satisfied until lunch, but it will also give sufficient energy to improve your mood and performance throughout the day.
Having a breakfast that’s high in protein is one of the best ways to lose weight. Our body takes more time to digest proteins and this is the reason that you get even and consistent levels of energy after having a protein-rich breakfast. Some of the protein-rich breakfast options are eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, and chia seeds.
You can also include high-fiber foods into your diet as they are good for your health and weight-loss. They also keep you feeling full for longer, so you’re less likely to overeat or crave for unhealthy snacks. Some of the fiber-rich breakfast options that you can include in your diet can be oats, whole wheat flakes & muesli. You can eat fruits or a bowl of fresh seasonal salad.
5. Eat Mindfully
Mindfulness is a concept which is often misunderstood by a lot of people. Mindfulness is a practice that involves giving your complete undivided attention to the present moment and to gradually bring your attentiveness to a peak by practice.
There’s a famous quote by Charles Eisenstein who says,” We overeat not because we enjoy food too much—it is because we don’t enjoy it enough”.
Since ancient times, humans shared a special intimate relationship with food especially because it was hard to get. Today we are spoiled of options to choose from when it comes to food. And we have seen a gradual shift in our eating habits, as more and more people prefer taste and convenience over nutrition.
Several studies have shown the importance of chewing food properly as it aids in digestion and also reduces TEF (Thermal Effect of Food= The amount of energy our body spends to digest food). The slow and mindful way of eating releases an adequate amount of stomach acids, which helps us to digest our food and also lose weight (5 ).
Thus eating mindfully will not only help you to cherish your food but it will also help you lose those extra pounds.
6. Plan your Meals
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
If you plan your meals on the go, you are bound to eat unhealthy food that’s not good for your health. A lot of mental energy is wasted each time we make a decision to think about what we are going to eat now. Our natural instinct is to look for something that’s good in taste and is faster to make.
Planning your meals beforehand is a good way of emptying up our mental space to make decisions on the go. We can consciously decide what is it that we want to eat for the next 3-5 days and plan accordingly.
It begins with going to a grocery store and stocking up your pantry with all the healthy food items. The easiest way to make conscious good decisions is to fill your fridge with all the healthy food items so that you don’t have any choice when hunger craves in.
Pro Tip: Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. When we are hungry, we are bound to pick up unhealthy/sugary food items and always take a grocery list with you and stick to it.
7. Practice Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has played a huge role in my personal weight-loss journey. This simple and vital concept helped me to break free from the earlier unhealthy food habits that I was not able to break.
Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular ways to lose weight and involves fasting for longer durations of time and helps you lose muscle mass.
There are multiple ways of doing it, but the way I did it was by having just 3 meals in a day and fasting for a complete day once every 14 days.
If you want to see results, you should be careful about the foods you eat during fasting as not eating the right type of foods can cause more harm than benefit.
It’s advisable to consult your dietician once before practicing intermittent fasting.
8. Add some exercise to your routine
There is nothing that can boost your weight-loss faster than a bit of exercise.
Getting any type of physical exercise helps to mobilize your fat which makes it burn faster. There are no compulsions on which exercises you can pick, but several studies have shown that aerobic exercises are better for weight loss as they can increase the metabolic rate of your body.
Exercise also has various other benefits like lifting your mood, reducing stress and suppressing appetite hormones which make you crave for more food. It can also steady your blood glucose levels within the body.
Some of the rigorous forms of exercises like running have an “after-burn effect” which can make your burn calories even 2 hours after you have stopped doing that physical activity. Most importantly, doing a bit of physical exercise every day can make you feel confident and good about yourself.
9. Optimize Sleep
Many people often compromise on sleep to keep up with increased work-load or other distractions like the Internet and Mobile.
There are several studies which show that less sleep can trigger hormonal changes which lead to increased appetite and cravings for unhealthy food. Sleep deprivation can also negatively affect the normal functioning of regulatory hormones which ultimately leads to obesity.
Sleep is the time during which our body repairs and builds itself. Therefore, it is critical to get a good amount of sleep every day for increased productivity during the day.
Minimizing the use of smartphones and laptops after sunset is a very good idea as they emit blue rays which disrupt our sleeping patterns. Sleep at the same time every day and try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
10. Eat Homemade Meals
Many people and professionals have developed a habit of eating food from outside because of convenience and other factors. An average American eats out an average of 4 meals a week outside their home, and this number is even higher for professionals.
Although there are many nutritious food options available these days, choices are often limited and people prefer to pick unhealthy food options like chemically processed fast-foods laced with preservatives or foods that contain a high amount of fats and calories.
There is no issue if you would like to eat outside once in a while, but if you are serious about weight-loss, it’s better to stick to homemade healthy food items as you have more control over what is being prepared.
I learned a few healthy and delicious recipes myself that are easier to prepare and don’t take a lot of time and you can do the same. Investing a bit of time in learning how to cook these simple and delightful recipes is not a big deal at all.
Bonus Tip: Take action Today
The reason people are NOT able to make a massive difference in their life is not because of lack of information or desire, but simply because of lack of action.
You already have all the information and resources you need to start your weight-loss journey and to achieve all the fitness goals you wished for. Adopting these habits into your daily routine will not only help you to get in shape but it will also improve the quality of your life drastically.
It’s not your body that’s a stumbling block on your fitness journey, but it’s your own mind. Getting out of the cycle of old habits that don’t serve you well requires a lot of work. While your logical side of the brain knows exactly what to do, it’s the emotional side that convinces us to step back into comfort zone and old habits.
To win this tug of war, you need to be okay with being uncomfortable for a while and trust the process which will give you manifold returns in the future. Wishing you all the best for your weight-loss journey.