You don't need to spend hours at the gym to shed pounds; if you're short on time or not able to exercise for another reason, you can still control your weight. Stay slim by watching your portion sizes and food choices, and increase your day-to-day activity level, if you can, to burn more calories without formal exercise.
Make Quality Food Choices to Stay Slim
To keep your slender figure, steer clear of processed foods, especially those high in sugar and refined grains. Their calories add up quickly, causing you to put on pounds, without providing you with much nutrition. Instead, load up on bulky, water-packed foods -- like fruits, veggies and broths -- at meals and snacks. And focus on fiber, which is in whole grains -- such as brown rice and quinoa -- as well as legumes, beans and produce. Fiber helps slow digestion so you feel full longer and keeps your blood sugar balanced so you experience fewer cravings. Starting your meal with a broth-based soup or a salad with minimal dressing can help prevent eating too much of your entree. Lean protein also helps you feel satisfied after you eat, so include 20 to 30 grams at most meals. Reach for chicken breast, lean roast beef, low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt, tofu and fish.
Pay Attention to Portion Sizes and Sensations
Eating too many calories from any food can cause you to gain weight. Learn visual cues for healthy portion sizes -- for example, a reasonable 3- to 4-ounce portion size of protein -- such as chicken or fish -- is about the size of your palm or a deck of cards. A 1/2 cup portion of whole grains fits into a standard muffin cup, and a cup of vegetables is a generous handful. Serve a thumb-sized dab of olive oil or nut butter or one-eighth of an avocado at most meals -- the unsaturated fats in these foods help you feel full and promote brain and heart health.
To stay slim, tap into hunger cues so you don't mindlessly consume excess calories and overshoot your daily calorie needs. Eat slowly and stop when you feel satisfied, but not stuffed, at most meals. Avoid snacking from a large bag or bowl while in front of the television or computer. Instead, measure out one portion of high-calorie snacks, so you'll know when to stop eating.
Stay Active Without Exercise
Regular physical activity keeps your heart healthy and your weight under control. However, physical activity doesn't just mean sweating it out at the gym or going for a run. All-day activity also keeps you moving so your metabolism stays revved.
Regularly perform household chores, such as washing the car, gardening and cutting the lawn. Park far out in the lot, take the stairs, walk to a restaurant for lunch, pace while you're on the phone, and walk your dog twice during the day. Turn off the television and go for a walk, go bowling or play putt-putt golf.
The more you move, the healthier you'll be. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to chronic disease, obesity and early mortality, showed a meta analysis published in a 2015 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Get Quality Sleep and Take Care of Stress
A night of tossing and turning -- or a habit of burning the candle at both ends -- can make you feel fatigued and hungry during the day. Sleep deprivation affects your hunger-controlling hormones -- like leptin and ghrelin -- so you'll feel more hungry and less satisfied after a meal. You'll also crave fattier, sugary foods and reach for calorie-ridden energy drinks to keep you going. Adults need between seven and nine hours of rest per night.
Living in a state of constant stress can also cause your weight to creep up. Bills, work deadlines, marital conflict and family pressure make your body increase production of cortisone, a stress hormone, that causes you to crave high-calorie foods and increases the likelihood that excess calories will store as belly fat. Take time for yourself, practice yoga, delegate work duties when possible, and avoid drama. These strategies help your mind stay calm and your body healthy and slim.
- USA Today: How to Drop Pounds With All-Day Activities, Not Exercise
- Real Simple: The Secrets of Thin People
- Experience Life: Protein Power
- Precision Nutrition: The Cost of Getting Lean
- Annals of Internal Medicine: Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
- National Sleep Foundation: Diet, Exercise and Sleep
- National Sleep Foundation: National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times
- Psychology Today: Why We Gain Weight