This is not another diet article that tells you to cut out all foods that taste better than rice cakes, ice chips or the air in your mouth. Neither I am an amazing health fanatic who claims to eat kale at every meal and have a perfect calorie-intake.
As a young teenager, I cared squat about how I ate and so eventually I did put on the pounds. I remember often eating half a box of cinnamon wafers with a large glass of milk, or eating a rich mini swiss-roll way too late at night, or eating microwave meals every day after school (you know those ones with the mac ‘n’ cheese and brownies?).
So I looked at myself in the mirror, and I didn’t like what I saw. I saw a pale, pudgy teenager and it was pretty frustrating for me – because I loved food so much!
If you have been trying to lose weight, let me share with you a couple of the things I learned in my teen years to shed 20 pounds in small, easy lifestyle changes so that I could still enjoy all foods. I call it passive ways to lose weight, but it doesn’t mean that it requires zero effort at all. These are simple lifestyle changes you can make as an alternative to a depressing hard-core diet.
*Disclaimer: Please always first speak to your doctor or dietician before implementing any changes to your lifestyle and diet.
- Eat What You Like Until 8pm
Yes! Eat that donut! Well, you obviously shouldn’t eat donuts or the like every day, but whatever you choose to eat, make sure you stop eating latest by 8pm. Earlier is even better, say 7 or 6pm. Then eat your breakfast 12 hours later, so if you ate supper at 6pm, have breakfast at 6am. This will give your weight-loss a boost for sure. You’ll sleep better, too. It was so exciting for me to see what the bathroom scale said the morning after I had had an early dinner. It really works!
- Drink Only Water
Yes, I get that some people cannot stand plain old boring water, but people, it’s what your engine needs. Develop the skill of gulping down a solid glass of water like those crazy water-drinking competitions and your body will thank you. If you forget about water, try downloading an app like WaterMinder that reminds you to drink every 1 or 2 hours to reach your water goal for the day.
Regarding diet soda, the fake sugars in them upsets your gastrointestinal bacteria and these little guys play a huge role in your weight loss and overall health. Plus, research has found that carbonated drinks actually make you feel hungrier. If you do want a nice drink, dilute some fruit juice or flavour your water with infusions of strawberries or mint.
- Drink A Glass of Water Before Meals
This will help you to understand how hungry you actually are. Too often do we feel hungry but it is more our thirst that is the culprit. Our body sometimes cannot distinguish between the two demands, thirst or hunger.
- Please Do Not Skip Meals
People, eat your breakfast! Not at 10am, but ideally 12 hours after you had dinner the night before. If you aren’t hungry or feel nauseas to eat early, just eat something small and nutritious. Breakfast literally kick-starts your metabolism for the day. If you are not hungry for lunch, have something small to keep your metabolism going. If there is any meal that you could skip, it’s dinner. Remember the old saying, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and supper like a pauper.”
If you don’t have time to eat or you forget to eat, get into the habit of always having nutritious snacks that keep for a while in your office or bag. If you eat nothing, your body’s poor metabolism will decrease in order to try conserve its limited energy resource.
- No Second Helpings
Yes, no second helpings of the divine stuff you just ate. This is going to take a bit of discipline, but after a while it will become a habit. Plus, you will save money on groceries because you won’t be eating so much. So if you really are desperate for a second helping, just wait a little, drink a glass of water and you may find yourself realizing you’re not actually hungry anymore. Calories and money saved!
- Take Your Multivitamins
I believe that supplements give us a little boost in our metabolisms because so many of the B-vitamins are responsible for digestion that our diets may lack. In addition, stress hormones need certain supplements to be broken down. If we have all of these nutrients, we may not feel so stressed anymore and won’t resort to food cravings. This brings me to my next point.
- Replace Your Emotional/Boredom Eating
If you are feeling depressed or bored, rather ask yourself what else you could do that would help you feel better instead of stuffing your face. If you struggle with depression, get help. If you don’t deal with the core of your problems correctly, those emotions will fester inside of you and you may resort to unhealthy ways to cope, one of which may be over-eating.
- Add Variety to Your Diet
Eating the same foods day after day, month after month, year after year could leave your body deficient in some nutrients (not to mention bored). Come on, live a little! Try recipes that use different vegetables or fruits that you don’t usually eat and you may discover some new favourite dishes. Your body needs a varied diet to acquire all of its nutrient demands.
- A Little Cardio Goes A Long Way
What I loved as a teen and even now as an adult is riding my bike. When I was pudgy, I didn’t go on long rides, maybe they were only a couple of minutes going around the block. But the point is that it got my heart rate way up. You may not like to cycle, but maybe you like to run, or skip rope or jump on the trampoline. There’s really nifty 5-minute workout apps that you can use too. What it does is it increases your basal metabolic rate as you get fit as well as decreases your cravings for unhealthy food. Just a few minutes of good, hard cardio a few times a week is enough to help start weight loss.
- Get Your Zz’s
Getting good sleep every night is crucial to weight loss. If you get a bad night’s rest, you will feel lethargic and you will want to eat junk to make you feel better. You will also lack the willpower to make healthy choices. Getting good sleep at night involves going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Try not to have day naps, but if very necessary only a 15-minute power-nap.
- Remember Not All Calories Are Equal
Lastly, there is a big different between the 100 calories you get in a brownie versus the 100 calories in a chicken salad. The very refined ingredients in the brownie get digested very quickly in comparison to the nutritious chicken salad. Opt for foods that are high in fibre and more nutrient-dense because these get digested slowly – keeping you fuller for longer.
It’s funny how so many people only start trying to live healthier lives when disaster strikes, like when they have serious health issues. Do you want to put yourself and your family through that? I know I don’t.
I truly believe that every one of us can glow with health and happiness if we took better care of our health more. And it doesn’t have to be hard! We just have to start trying. Take the challenge to implement these small changes one day at a time. It may be a bit difficult at first, but try starting just one of them, and then add more when you feel ready.
So take care of yourself and invest in your future! You can do it! I will also try harder to do so.
Have any experiences about what worked for your weight-loss? Comment below!