Packing your lunch, cooking dinner every night, and getting to the gym regularly sound like things you’ll be able to do half past never, you may think that real weight loss just isn’t in the cards for you right now.
It’s true: healthy weight loss can be a time commitment, especially if you’re overweight thanks to a job that keeps you sedentary for much of the day or a schedule that lends itself to fast food and unhealthy snacking.
Don’t throw in the towel just yet. You don’t need extra minutes in your day to eat less or to move more, the two basic pillars of weight loss. Here’s how to reevaluate the time you do have, and smart strategies to make dropping pounds easier, no matter how swamped you are.
Every small step you take toward a healthier lifestyle matters, says Jeff Katula, PhD, associate professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University. “People often think they have to spend an hour at the gym or eat a diet full of hummus and superfoods, and when they can’t attain that level they just give up and don’t even try,” he says. Instead of looking at your whole day as a success or failure, says Katula, consider every decision you make a chance to do something healthy. Just because you skipped the gym doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch your calorie intake for the rest of the day, for example. (In fact, it means the exact opposite!)
“You don’t need to cook your own food or even eat different food to lose weight,” says Katula. “You just need to eat less, and eating less doesn’t take more time or cost more money.” Most people need to consume between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day if they want to drop pounds in a healthy and sustainable way—and for a lot of people, eating appropriate portion sizes, skipping dessert, or not going back for seconds is one of the easiest ways to reduce their total calorie intake.
Setting aside time for a 30- or 60-minute workout is ideal, “but you can burn a lot of calories in not-so-ideal workout situations, too,” says Katula. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with breaking up your 150 recommended minutes of weekly moderate exercise into short bursts throughout your day. “If you can fit in 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes at night, and you can do that five days a week, you’re there,” he says.
Katula tells his patients to think of burning calories they way they think of saving money. “We do so many little things—clip coupons, buy store brands—to save a dime here or a quarter there, because we know it adds up,” he says. “Exercise is the same way: A few push-ups here and a few extra steps there can add up, too, if you do it regularly.”
Just like Katula tells his patients to think of exercise like they do clipping coupons, he tells them to think of their food choices the same way. “Whether it’s leaving the cheese off a hamburger or switching from mayo to honey mustard, there are so many little things you can do and so many little swaps you can make over the course of a day that can add up and save you calories without costing you any extra time.” Think about your daily beverages too, not just your solid foods. Switching from soda to seltzer water with lemon (or even to diet soda), or using less sugar in your coffee, for example, can save you several pounds a year.
Do you have information you wish to share with PakistanTribe.com? Email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share. Follow PakistanTribe on Twitter Follow @PakistanTribe and Join us on Facebook