As you know at Be Strong, we wholeheartedly recommend tracking calories as the number one method to improve your chances at losing weight and achieving your goals. In fact if you track your calories, your chances of success increase by 50%.
However, we also appreciate that for some people they just aren’t ready to do that straight away, or ever in fact. If this is you, then there are still some other simple steps, that you can take to help improve your diet, improve your chances of weight loss and improve your health.
Top 10 Small Steps to Improve Your Health
“Small steps are achievable and are easier to fit into your daily routine,” says James O. Hill, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Centre. “They are less overwhelming than a big, sudden change.”
These top tips are simple, small changes that you can make that all add up to a healthier lifestyle, so if you aren’t quite ready for tracking just yet, try some of these instead. If nothing else, you will definitely feel better for doing it, and once you start to feel better and more in control, you might feel that you want to give tracking a go.
1. Keep an eye on your weight, by weighing regularly to make sure you are not gaining extra pounds. Even if you gain just a pound or two a month, that will add up to a stone a year. Knowing where you are keeps you accountable. Stopping weight gain, is a fantastic start on your lifestyle change journey.
2. Take more steps. Use a pedometer, an activity tracker watch or your phone, to count your daily steps; then add 2000, the equivalent of one extra mile each month, until you take 10000 steps on most days. If you are already at 10000 steps a day, aim for more – 12000, 15000, 20000, just do more! You don’t have to be doing daily high intensity workouts, you just need to be moving more, and then some more, and then some more.
3. Eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters tend to weigh less and have better diets overall. Because, breakfast kick starts your metabolism and psychologically removes the temptation to treat yourself later, because you skipped breakfast.
4. Switch to whole grain. Wholegrains mean wholemeal or granary bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice, wholegrain cereals such as porridge oats or Weetabix. Wholegrain foods aid our digestive system, keeping things moving so we will feel less sluggish, and they also help us to feel full.
5. Have vegetables, in some form with every meal – whether that’s your bog standard peas and carrots, or a delicious multi coloured salad – veg is filling, low calorie, full of nutrients, and may help you eat less during the meal. It also counts toward your five-a-day. If you feel peckish eat a piece of fruit or raw veg pieces – carry a couple of pieces of fruit in your bag for when you’re out and about. Low calorie snacks that comes in it’s own recyclable packaging
6. Trim the fat. Fat has a lot of calories, and calories do count. Purchase lean meats, and skinless,switch to lower-fat cheeses, use a nonstick pan with only a spray of oil, or no oil at all. Poaching, boiling and steaming are all fat free methods of cooking.
7. Downsize. The smaller the bag, bottle or bowl, the less calories you will eat.
8. Hydrate! Keeping our bodies properly hydrated ensures we are firing on all cylinders, keeps our metabolism ticking over, aids and improves our digestion and improves our skin tone and complexion. Drinking water is also calorie free, and helps us to feel full.
9. Take your time with your meals, eat slowly, sip water with your meal, and stop eating when you are full. It takes time for our brains to register when we are full. The slower we eat, the more chance our brain will recognise when we are full sooner, so we will eat less.
10. Cut down on alcohol – try to have at least 5 alcohol free days a week. Alcohol is full of empty calories, and has no other nutrition value, so reducing your alcohol equals reducing your calorie intake.
We get it!
We do get it, that lots of people are reluctant to star tracking their food, and more specifically tracking their calories. And it’s because we don’t want to know the truth. We don’t want to learn what we should stop or reduce eating. Because that requires us to step out of our comfort zones, and for some it’s a step too far.
What you might want to do is just write down what you eat for a week, without the calories. You may find you eat or drink a lot of something, without realising. If this is cheese, or other fat based food, it’s a simple change to make.
It wouldn’t be a Be Strong article if we didn’t reinforce that tracking your calories is most definitely your most direct course to success. 15 minutes of effort each day, to increase your chances of success by 50%. Surely that’s worth a go?
Make one or two simple changes to your lifestyle, to improve your health, and maybe even reduce your waistline. But if you are serious about losing weight, just bite the bullet and start tracking!