We’re not necessarily lazy, but the idea of waking up at the crack of dawn to run a few laps around the neighborhood sounds, well, exhausting. Don’t get us wrong — getting in your cardio is essential to maintaining your health. But before you splurge for a trainer or sign up for a grueling marathon, make these simple every day changes instead. With a few workouts thrown in throughout the week as well, you’ll be on your way to dropping the pounds.
1. Pack in the protein.
Protein requires 25 percent more energy to digest than carbs, so it’s possible to cut your calorie intake without eating less food. Your body has to work harder to digest a salmon filet than it does a bowl of pasta, meaning you can get away with a few extra bites of that perfectly cooked fish while the noodles could do a number on your waistline. Eating protein also causes your body to release a hormone called leptin, which makes you feel fuller so you eat less later.
2. Stay hydrated—with salt water (huh, you didn’t guess this part!).
When it comes to H20, salt is not the enemy. Water needs electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride to be best absorbed, which explains why they’re added to popular sports drinks. Add a pinch of Celtic sea salt or real salt (unrefined and unbleached) to your water before chugging. The electrolytes in the salt will push water into the cells where they need to be, rather than letting the water get flushed out, causing you to go to the bathroom every other minute. You’ll notice a spike in energy after staying hydrated, too, and you’ll be less likely to give in to cravings which are even harder to avoid when you’re running on empty.
3. Don’t skip meals.
Your mom taught it to you when you were little, and now you’re teaching it to your kiddos, but are you doing it yourself? You better be. Otherwise, you’ll end up snacking on the wrong food or eating too much at the next meal. Keep some healthy snacks around to keep your belly happy in between meals.
4. Find yourself fidgeting?
Yeah, keep doing it! Tell your friends or co-workers it’s called NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It’s energy that we expend on everything we do besides sleep, eat, and exercise. NEAT-related activities can speed up your metabolism and burn calories. Things like walking while you talk on the phone, cleaning, fidgeting, and dancing while you cook (come on, we know we aren’t the only ones) all count.
5. Get more sleep.
If you’re tired and up late, you’re more prone to late-night snacking, which often causes weight gain. Lack of sleep impacts your hunger and fullness hormones—ghrelin and leptin—making it more difficult to lose weight. Put those chips back on the shelf, girl. It’s midnight.
6. Write it down.
Keeping a food journal forces you to look at the foods you’re eating on a daily basis. You’ll be much more honest with yourself about what and how much you’re actually eating. And science backs it up: A recent survey from the weight-loss app Lose It! found that users who logged their daily eats lost more weight than those who didn’t. Think about it: You’ll actually want to eat healthier because writing, “12 cookies” and “18 chocolate squares” in the same journal entry is just not ideal, while writing “oven-roasted salmon with broccoli and wild rice, plus two squares of dark chocolate for dessert” sounds way more satisfying—and something to be proud of.
7. Limit those cooking shows.
New research reveals women who steal recipes from them weigh more than those who don’t. Maybe just watch your favorite shows for the thrill of the cooking competition (we’re looking at you, Mr. Bobby Flay, Iron Chef).
8. Stop weighing yourself.
Research shows it can backfire when weight loss is your goal. If you get too wrapped up in the number of pounds you still have to shed, you can get discouraged and be tempted to give up altogether. Just focus on having healthier behaviors—and use your clothes or weekly selfies as a guide if you need one—and the weight loss will follow.
9. Get social.
Don’t be afraid to show your selfies to your friends. And yeah, we know your instinct is to give some major eye roll when scrolling through an abdomen-filled Instagram feed, but try to refrain. Studies show that celebrating your clean eats and workout commitments on social media can actually promote weight loss because the support you’ll get from those around you will motivate you to keep it up. So go on and click “post” already.
10. Mix in some matcha.
We’re talking about the powdered green tea that’s been popular in Japan for quite some time now, and is now making waves in the U.S. A study found that it contains extremely high amounts of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which helps stop the growth of fat cells. Matcha is also loaded with these health benefits, so get ready to go green.
11. Ride with the public.
Researchers have found that public commuters have less body fat than those who drive, probably because of the extra walking and standing that’s required when you take a train or a bus. It’s not rocket science, but hey, it works. And those bills you save in gas? All a bonus.
12. Branch out with berries.
A new study found that camu camu, an Amazonian berry, contains about 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C in just 3.5 ounces of fruit and can help lower blood sugar. When your blood sugar is too high, you need more insulin to metabolize the food you eat, and insulin stops your body from using stored fat as energy, says Westerkamp. In other words, higher blood sugar = more insulin = stored fat sticking around for way too long. Unfortunately, you won’t find fresh camu camu berries at your local grocery store, but you can purchase them as a raw powder—perfect for mixing into smoothies—online or at natural health food stores.