To lose weight, most health professionals recommend diet and exercise. This combination has been shown to help you lose weight and maintain your weight loss long-term. But you don’t necessarily have to hit the gym as your form of daily exercise. Health clubs and gyms can be expensive, far away, not enjoyable or even intimidating for some people. Fortunately, studies have shown that dietary changes have more of an effect on weight loss compared to physical activity. In addition, there are plenty of ways to exercise and be active that don’t include going to the gym. So skip the gym and instead make a few dietary changes to help you lose weight.
Method 1 of 3: Losing Weight with Dietary Changes
Eat high protein, high fiber breakfast every morning. Eating breakfast is an important part of weight loss. Studies have shown that regular consumption of a high protein, high fiber breakfast can help you stay satisfied longer and decrease hunger cravings during the day.
- Fiber not only adds filling bulk to your meals, but also has been shown to prevent constipation and certain cancers like colon and rectal cancer. Starting out your day with a fiber-rich breakfast can help you reach your daily goal of 25 g for women and 38 g for men.
- Examples of breakfast meals include: scrambled eggs with sauteed vegetables and 2 ounces of lean sausage, 1 cup of low-fat greek yogurt with fruit and nuts or 1 cup of whole grain oats with pureed pumpkin.
Eat mostly lean protein, fruits and vegetables. Studies show that one of the best diets for weight loss is a moderate to low-carb diet that emphasizes lean protein, fruits and vegetables.
- Try to make most of your meals and snacks only protein, fruits and vegetables. Focusing on these food groups will help you minimize the amount of carbohydrate-rich foods you consume.
- Examples of meals include: grilled chicken and vegetable stir fry, lettuce wrap with low-fat cheese and lean deli meat, grilled salmon with steamed vegetables, or a sliced apple with low-fat cheese.
- Minimize carbohydrate-rich foods when you can. Items like bread, rice, pasta, bagels, crackers, chips or couscous are higher in carbohydrates compared with other food groups. Although these can be part of a healthy diet, limiting your intake may help speed weight loss.
Avoid mindless snacking. Snacking or grazing throughout the day or late at night can sabotage weight loss. While planned, healthy snacking can support weight loss, mindless eating or grazing can counteract it.
- Mindless eating and snacking is when you’re consuming food and not realizing how much you’re consuming or what you’re consuming. This may happen out of boredom when you’re watching TV, driving or doing work at home. When you’re not aware of how much you’re eating, you’re more likely to over eat.
- If you feel like you need to snack, make your snack planned and mindful. Sit down, portion out your food, consume it and then move on with your daily activities.
- Try to avoid eating from the box, bag or package. It’s tough to know how much you’ve consumed. Also try to minimize other distractions while you’re eating – like watching TV, doing work or checking emails. Focus on your snack.
Don’t drink your calories. One common cause of weight gain is the consumption of calorie filled or sugary beverages. Ditch the sweetened drinks and consume clear, sugar-free, hydrating fluids instead.
- One danger of drinking calories is that you don’t necessarily feel full or satisfied after consuming that beverage. You’re more likely to eat your normal calorie intake in addition to the calories from your sweetened beverages.
- Aim for adequate fluids from drinks like: water, sugar-free flavored water, decaf coffee or decaf tea.
Avoid regular indulgences. A sweet treat, a glass of wine or sweetened coffee drink are types of treats that should be watched when you’re trying to lose weight. Little items like these, over time, can slow or even stop your weight loss.
- Limit treats as much as possible. This is important for weight loss when you’re not planning on exercising often or strenuously. You will not be burning enough calories through physical activity to cover a lot of indulgences.
- If you’re really craving a treat, calculate how you can fit that treat in with your desired calories goals each day. If you can have a smaller lunch or skip a snack and stay within your daily calorie goal, it’s appropriate to have the treat.
Method 2 of 3: Losing Weight with Lifestyle Changes
Go to bed at a set time. Sleeping is crucial for your overall health, but even more so for weight loss and maintenance. Studies have shown that decreased sleep affects your body’s hunger hormones – increasing your cravings and hunger the next day.
- Aim for about 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This is a general recommendation and should be an appropriate amount of rest for most healthy adults.
- To help you get to sleep and sleep soundly, turn off all lights and electronic devices. It’s also recommended to stop using bright, stimulating devices the TV or your cell phone about 30 minutes prior to trying to fall asleep.
Start a journal. Journaling has been shown to be very effective for weight loss. You can track a variety of items (like weight or food) to help keep you on track. The more often and accurate you journal, you’re more likely to be successful.
- One thing to keep track of is your food and beverage intake. Food journals can provide you insight into your diet and what may or may not be working for your weight loss plan. Food journals can also help keep you accountable.
- In addition, you can also track your progress in your journal. That might be weight, pants or dress size and what physical fitness progress you have made. Those that keep track of their weight regularly are also more successful long-term.
Get support. Weight loss can be difficult – especially if you’ve been trying or plan on trying to lose weight for a long time. Finding a support group can help build your confidence, keep you motivated and help your success long-term.
- Ask friends or family members if they’d like to join you on your weight loss plan. You can plan meals together or find fun, physically active, ideas to do together. You’re more likely to stick to your plan if you’re doing it with a friend.
- Also considering joining online groups or forums of others who are trying to lose weight. There are a variety of people who do not like or cannot be physically active but are still trying to lose weight.
Method 3 of 3: Exercising Outside of the Gym
Use exercise DVD’s or online videos. If going to the gym or going for a walk or jog isn’t enjoyable, try using online videos or exercise DVD’s to help you get in some physical activity.
- Both of these options are fairly low cost or free and are available in a variety of skill levels to meet your needs.
- Research some exercise DVD’s or online videos to see what ones might be fun, geared to your fitness level and whether or not they require extra equipment.
Do body weight exercises. Strength training, toning and building muscle can also be done at home. You don’t need special machines or weights to perform many of these exercises.
- Incorporate body weight exercises for simple strength training at home. You can try: push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips, lunges or planks.
- You can also use household items for weights. Try using a water battle, canned beans or a gallon jug filled with water. Use these items when you’re doing exercises like: bicep curls or lateral raises.
- You may also want to consider purchasing a set of inexpensive free weight or resistance bands so you can do a larger variety of activities, but still do them at home.
Go for free cardio. There are a variety of cardiovascular exercises that you can do at home or in your local community. Many are low cost or are free and do not require you to go to a gym to perform.
- Go for a walk or jog outside in your neighborhood, outdoor track or park. Enjoy the outdoors while you workout. If the weather is bad or you don’t have a safe area to walk, try walking loops in the mall.
- You can also go for a bike ride in your neighborhood or take your bike to a scenic trail.
Increase your daily steps. If you don’t have time or don’t enjoy planned physical activity, try increasing the amount of steps you take each day. The more you move throughout the day, the more calories you’ll burn.
- Think about different ways you could add more steps to your day. You could park farther away, walk the long way to your destination, or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Also consider moving more. For example, you could do leg raises during TV commercial breaks or do sitting leg lifts while you’re sitting at your desk.
- Always talk to your doctor prior to making any dietary or lifestyle changes. They will be able to tell you if your plan is safe and appropriate for you.
- Remember, losing weight requires a combination of lifestyle changes. You will lose the most weight with a combination of diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
- Going to the gym isn’t necessary for weight loss. Physical activity, however, should be included weekly to help support weight loss and long-term maintenance.
- Do not aim for an unhealthy and unrealistic weight for your body type and height. Weight should not be your only goal. Aim to be healthy!