Good news: You don't have to empty the fridge and start over to lose weight. Instead, try these simple ways to shed pounds
There's more to losing weight than just changing what you eat. In fact, some of the best weight-loss tips and strategies have nothing to do with what's on your plate. There’s no denying that the calories you consume and your weight are closely interwoven, but there are more digestible entry points to get the success rolling. These easy, sometimes-quirky tactics have been proven to help you lose weight without going hungry. (If you do want to upgrade your eating habits, check out these 22 New Winter Foods for Weight Loss.)
Trade your sweat-fest on the treadmill for an early run on the greenway. Sip your coffee al fresco. Take your pup on longer a.m. walks. The goal is to spend some time—about 20 to 30 minutes—in bright outdoor light between 8 a.m. and noon, suggests researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Their study in PLOS ONE found that people have a lower body mass index (BMI) when they get most of their daily exposure to bright light in the morning; those who typically waited until later in the day to slip outside had higher BMIs. (And don't bother trying to trick your body with high wattage: Indoor lighting lacks the same intensity as outdoor light.) It’s not completely clear how light influences body fat, but the study authors do point out that not soaking in enough bright light during the day can throw your internal body clock out of whack, which can tamper with your metabolism and weight.
The mention of weight-loss supplements can draw out our inner skeptic, but Re-Body Meratrim capsules contain the herbal blend of Sphaeranthus indicus (a flowering plant widely used in Ayurvedic medicine) and Garcinia mangostana (from the rinds of mangosteen fruits) that has solid footing in research. According to studies performed by a team of University of California, Davis scientists and medical experts in India, this botanical pairing may help shrink you down to your perfect size. As described in the Journal of Medicinal Food, overweight people took capsules with the herbal mix twice a day and followed a 2000-calorie-a-day diet along with a 30-minute walking regimen five days a week; another group was prescribed the same diet and walking regimen, but given placebos. At the end of eight weeks, those taking the herbal supplement lost about 11.5 pounds (over eight pounds more than the placebo group), and knocked almost five inches off their waists and two-and-a-half inches from their hips. Paired with lifestyle changes, the study authors suggest that this dynamic herbal duo may positively alter the metabolism of fat and glucose. Clearly, it’s doing something right.
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We all have those days when it’s hard to get yourself motivated and in the zone. But it’s no secret that staying consistent leads to weight loss. Try this trick from psychology researchers at New York University (NYU) to make that seemingly impossible walk or jog doable: Instead of looking down or checking out what’s around you while you’re moving, stare at a specific target in the distance, in the direction where you’re headed. It could be a traffic sign, parked car, mailbox, or a building. Narrowly focusing your visual attention this way can make the distance seem shorter, increase speed, and make exercising seem easier, says the researchers, whose related work appears in the journal Motivation and Emotion. In one of their experiments, people wore ankle weights while taking a timed walking test in a gym; one group was told to focus on a traffic cone for their finish line, while another bunch had the freedom to look around. As compared to the unrestricted group, those given the target perceived the cones to be 28 percent closer than they were, walked 23 percent faster, and felt less physical exertion. (Imagine the results if Adam Levine was the focus!)
It’s normal (and grr…frustrating) for weight to fluctuate—and for the biggest peak to occur at the end of the weekend, says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. Instead of beating yourself up Monday morning (which can backfire with weight loss), learn to enjoy those small splurges on the weekend. According to Wansink’s research, the people who successfully slim down in the long run actually lose their weight on weekdays. Collaborating with Finnish researchers, Wansink analyzed the weight patterns of 80 adults in the journal Obesity Facts and found that those who started their week by immediately compensating for any little weekend splurges were the ones who permanently shed pounds; their weight steadily dropped from Tuesday until they reached their minimum weight on Friday. On the other hand, the consistent “gainers” didn’t show any clear pattern of weekday weight fluctuations. The takeaway: You can allow yourself to fall off-track a bit on weekends as long as you focus on cranking it up on the weekdays. The bigger the deficit between what your scale says on Sunday night versus Friday morning, the more likely that you’re inching toward your happy weight. (So go ahead and enjoy your happy hour, dining out, and more with these Weight Loss Tips for Every Weekend Activity.)
Good reason to ignore your automatic reaction to click “unsubscribe” or “no, thanks:" Signing up for daily texts or video tips and reminders beamed out from a weight-loss app on your smartphone may help you lose pounds, according to researchers at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. As summarized in the journal Circulation, Tulane scientists analyzed 14 studies (which included over 1,300 participants) that probed mobile messaging and weight and found nudges (think, “Is it time for your run today?” “Don’t forget to record your breakfast”) led to modest reductions in weight and body mass index. During the course of the studies that ranged from six months to a year, participants reported about a three-pound weight loss. Keeping good behaviors—eating well and exercising—at the top of our minds is the mechanism that makes this handy tool work, says the researchers.