If your schedule is already packed and you don't have time to hit the gym, tweaking your daily routine can do wonders for your weight-loss efforts. You don't have to starve yourself or climb dozens of flights of stairs to see results. To see big results in the number on the scale, make small changes and swaps in your everyday routine.
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In the Morning
Eat breakfast. Skipping it can lead to ravenous hunger later, resulting in bad food choices later in the day, and may even raise your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, according to a report from Harvard School of Public Health. Stick to lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, such as eggs and whole-wheat toast. Get up 20 minutes earlier than you normally would and do some light cardio. Jumping jacks, jumping rope, jogging in place or a brisk walk around the block will get your heart pumping and clear your head for the day to come. Walk to work if you can. If you normally drive or use public transportation, park a little farther from your building or get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
During the Day
Nix diet soda and fruit juice and replace them with water. Staying hydrated can help stave off hunger. Drinking ice water can even help you lose weight, since your body has to burn calories to warm the water before digesting it. Trade your vending-machine cravings for five minutes on your favorite website. If you sit at a desk most of the day, stand and pace when you're on the phone. When lunchtime rolls around, suggest a restaurant with healthy options or take your brown-bagged lunch outside and walk while you eat. If you normally grab a doughnut from the break room to beat the midafternoon slump, climb the stairs for five minutes instead. The movement will clear your head, and your increased heart rate will put you back on alert.
In the Evening
If you have kids, pick them up from school and make a pit stop at the park before heading home. Pack a healthy snack, such as baby carrots and hummus, and then join your kids in the fun. Put on upbeat music while you prepare dinner and dance to burn a few extra calories. Swap takeout for something with lean protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Don't plop down in front of the TV after dinner; you're more likely to snack mindlessly. Instead, walk around the block with your kids or pop in a yoga DVD.
If you don't need to rush home to a family, stay out of rush-hour traffic and go for a walk along your city's sidewalks. Going to happy hour can be your diet's undoing. Swap your cocktail for a wine spritzer and replace those fried mushrooms with mixed nuts or a veggie tray. Don't stay out past 11 p.m. -- getting too little sleep can quickly lead to weight gain.
On the Weekends
It's normal to let your daily routine fall by the wayside on Saturday and Sunday, but you should use that extra time to be active. Wake up the kids and make a filling, healthy breakfast for everyone, then dig out the family bicycles and go riding together. If you don't have kids, find a Saturday aerobics class or biking club and get involved. In the evenings, make a habit of preparing a dish you've never cooked to keep yourself from calling for pizza. Use free time during the week to "schedule" your weekends. You don't have to be active every single minute, but keeping yourself busy will keep your mind off eating and you out of the kitchen.