I don’t want to train for a marathon (because if I did, I’d be telling you about it — constantly). I can’t stomach a radical new diet, and I’m not spending money on an expensive gym or trainer.
But I do want to lose about 20 lbs before summer.
In lieu of radical change, I decided to go the opposite route: I sat at my computer crowd-sourced food and fitness advice from health professionals.
(Some quick background: I exercise 5-6 times per week and walk a lot, but I also have a desk job and I write about booze, which means I’m out and about doing unhealthy things several nights per week.)
My requirements: No life upheaval. No complicated routines. Just a few basic changes to my life that could get me where I wanted.
Their thoughts below. And of course consult a doctor if you plan to make significant changes to your diet or fitness routine.
Chew your food more
The average person chews a mere three times before swallowing, says Bianca Riemer, a Certified Health Coach. “Ideally, you want to chew 20-30 times, and spend 20 minutes on each meal.”
Do this many pushups
The magic number is 10, says personal trainer and 19-time world champion powerlifter Robert Herbst. Do it first thing in the morning, then add two more every week (which will get you over 100 by year’s end). “It is amazing what that will do for tone, mass, definition, and strength,” says Herbst.
Give yourself a 14-16 hour window for fasting, and then just 8-10 for eating, says Brian Kiselstein, founder of ThinkHealthyFITNESS. “Not only will this aid in weight loss, but it is way less disruptive on your schedule,” he says.
Combine lifting and cardio
Instead of separating cardio days from strength training days, combine ‘em, says Kiselstein. “It’ll save you time and you get it all done on the same day.”
Get at least seven hours of sleep per night
Yes, you do need to sleep more. “Most of us aren’t getting enough, and when we are sleep deprived it messes up our fat loss goals,” says fitness/nutrition coach Tim Liu. “That throws off our hormones, makes us have food cravings and decreases our gym performance.”
Have a constitutional (and a smoothie)
If you have a desk job, take a 20-30 minute walk a few times per week. “Not only did it help with my weight, it helped me de-stress,” says Don Dulin of Unfinished Success, a site that helps people become better by making small changes in their lives. By combining the walking habit with smoothies twice a week (making his own in lieu of breakfast), Dulin claims he lost 10 pounds in two months.
Keep these foods handy
Put more fruit (or other healthy low calorie foods) in visible areas around the house, like the kitchen table or front and center of the fridge, says fitness coach Jay Spencer. “We often reach for unhealthy food because it is convenient and delicious,” he says. “With fruit around, you’ll be constantly reminded of your aspirations to eat healthy.”
Straighten up (literally)
If you need a quick fix, just learn to stand tall and sit up straight. “Guys slouch a lot,” says Brice LaGrand, a professional dancer and performer. “This can lead to low back and neck pain, a tight chest and potential injuries from walking improperly. And slouching isn’t very flattering because it gives a guy a flat butt and a big gut. Standing up properly will make a guy look slimmer.
Skip this meal (if you can)
“I recommend two meals a day for everyone who mostly sits for a living,” says self-help author David Zoucha (The Happy Marriage Hot Sex Handbook, Happy Rich). “Breakfast kick starts metabolism, and I want something to look forward to at night. So for 14 years, I’ve chosen to skip lunch.”
Drink a lot of water
As in at least (seriously, at least) eight cups per days, says Dr. Ajala Ngarndi, the Medical Director of The I.V. Doc in Atlanta. “That will help keep the metabolism supported,” she says. “It’ll also suppress the appetite; it’s common for people to mistake the feeling of thirst with hunger.”
Embrace the whole grains
Substitute all “white” carbs (bread, rice, etc.) with whole grains. “When you eat whole grains, you feel more full due to the higher protein/fiber content and so you will need to eat less overall,” says Dr. Nikola Djordjevic MD, co-founder of LoudCloudHealth.
“It’s crucial for losing weight and getting in shape because it activates hundreds of enzymes that control digestion, absorption and the utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates,” says nutrition expert and author Dr. Carolyn Dean. She suggests adding a teaspoon of liquid picometer magnesium and a 1/4 tsp of sea salt to every quart of drinking water you take in.
Lower your standards
Seriously. “Instead of dominating yourself with changes that require adjustments in other areas of your life, lower the bar so low your goal is impossible not to do,” says life coach and author Matthew Ferry (Quiet Mind Epic Life). For Ferry, that meant starting a daily yoga habit by simply doing a dead man’s pose for eight minutes every night before bed, then slowly adding moving and poses.
Annoy your friends
Your fit friends on social media who constantly rattle on about marathon training? They’re on to something, says Matthew Locker of the health/wellness platform BurnAlong. “We’ve seen incredible results when people include their social network in activities that are often done in isolation,” he says. “There is stronger motivation to stick with goals and people feel more accountable.”