- Diet & Weight Loss
How to Lose Weight Without Strict Dieting
At some point or another, most of us look at ourselves and decide that we'd like to lose some weight. Some of us want to shave off just a few pounds, and some of us want to shed several stone. This article is about easy lifestyle changes that you can make to help you lose weight - it is not an article about dieting, nor is it an article about rigorous exercise. These changes are simply habitual to improve your overall health, help you maintain good habits, and lose weight without starving yourself or entering a strict exercise regime that you might hate.
Not everybody enjoys sports, hiking or running around the park. For those that do, that's great, and we all know that consistent, hard exercise is fantastic for your health and a great way to shed weight steadily and naturally. However, for some, exercise is a chore that's hard to keep at, and it's easy to lose motivation.
So to make life easier, don't pressure yourself with exercise regimes (unless you know you'll enjoy them - then do them by all means). Instead, think about when you can just walk more. Is the local convenience store or supermarket close enough that you could walk there sometimes instead of taking the car? Do you own a bike, so you could cycle to work instead of driving?
That's not to say you have to get rid of your car completely. But walking - even if it's just a few miles a week - is great for your body. Starting your day with a short walk can lift your spirits. Cycling is even better for you than walking, and faster too. Explore your options, and you might find that you have a cheaper and healthier way of getting round than before.
Less sugar and salt - the easy way
If you're the type of person who can't live without a cup of coffee or tea (I know I am), think about how you can make it a little healthier. Do you add sugar to your drink? If so, try adding a little less. Do you have a lot of milk? Try switching to a lower-fat milk, or even try soya milk (which is what vegans use). Soya milk is less fatty than cow's milk. A lot of vegan meals are healthy and delicious - click here for more on vegan meals. Perhaps you can try eating one vegan meal a week. Who knows, you might discover something delicious.
Caffeine doesn't necessarily make you put on weight, but if you're looking for another way to make your tea or coffee more healthy, try switching to decaf.
Try adding less salt to your food too - cutting down your salt intake helps significantly with weight loss.
Drink more water
Coffee, tea, soda, cocoa, milkshakes - there are so many delicious drinks to choose from, that drinking water can seem boring. But think about it - water is cheap, contains no salt, sugar or fat, and our bodies need it to survive.
Try substituting at least one drink a day for a glass of water. When at a restaurant, order tap water before your meal - this saves on money as well as being a healthier option. Try drinking a glass of water before every meal; it will fill your stomach a little, aid digestion, and help you eat less. Drinking water also keeps you hydrated which is excellent for your skin, energy levels and immune system.
Don't go shopping whilst hungry
Buying groceries is possibly the worst thing you can do when you're hungry - you're far more likely to buy snacks, junk food, and more of what you usually buy. This wastes money as well as filling your fridge and cupboards with unhealthy foods.
Make sure you've eaten a good meal before you go to the store. Better still, make a list of what you need and stick to it. Plan your meals and what you need to cook them. This also ensures that food won't be wasted.
Let yourself buy at least one thing you love to eat, such as cake or biscuits - cutting these out of your diet completely will just cause massive cravings. Allow yourself the 'bad' food you love - just eat less of it.
What's your biggest challenge when losing weight?
If you know that you sometimes overeat, there's a very simple way to cut down your portion sizes without going hungry.
Take a look at what you serve yourself, and the size of your plates. Try putting 20-30% less food on your plate, and keep the rest in the pot or covered, so you know there are seconds if you're still hungry. Eat the food in another room. Most of the time we finish what's on our plates because it's there, not because a smaller portion isn't enough. When you've finished what's on your plate, ask yourself if you're still hungry. Decide to wait until your food has "gone down" and see how you feel. Most of the time, a slightly smaller portion is enough to fill you up.
Replace soda with fruit juice or water
If you're a big soda pop drinker, you might know that there is a lot of sugar, calories and even salt in most drinks like cola, lemonade and energy drinks that are often deemed "empty calories". Try replacing one or two soft drinks a day with fruit juice or water. Fruit juice also contains sugar, but it's natural sugar that is much better for you, and also contains nutrients that contribute to one of your "five a day". Water is also cheaper than soda and can save you money.
Cutting down on alcohol
If you enjoy drinking alcohol, that may be a big factor in your weight. Beer is fattening, wine and cocktails contain heaps of sugar, and alcohol dehydrates you too and makes you crave fatty foods. If you can, try cutting down your alcohol consumption - but that's not to say you have to quit your social life. Try these tips for drinking less and shedding some weight.
- Order half a pint of beer instead of a full pint.
- For every alcoholic drink you have, have a non-alcoholic drink such as fruit juice, water or a soda (this also helps fight off hangovers).
- Cut down the amount of days you drink.
- Organise more events that don't involve drinking, such as meals or trips to the cinema (so you don't lose out on social events).
By keeping these things in mind and exercising these good habitual changes, you can start to lose weight without having to cut out the foods you love, tell yourself to 'diet' or force yourself to exercise if you don't like it. Work towards these goals slowly and efficiently - don't rush yourself, or it might be easy to relapse. Remember that healthy and effective weight loss isn't an overnight job - you need determination, perseverance and patience. Hopefully these easy lifestyle changes will help you towards your goal before you feel ready to take on more challenges such as hard exercise. Good luck!