It’s officially spring – Woohoo! – and as the weather warms up and those bulky layers come off, the thought of baring it all in your swimsuit can be a little unnerving. But it is possible to shed your hibernation flab by summer, and you don’t have to consume nothing but green juice to get there.
Exercise scientist Ellington Darden, PhD, author of The Body Fat Breakthrough, is sharing some of his favorite easy ways to lose weight and keep it off. “Often it’s the little things you do that make a big difference in your effort to get back in shape and stick with the lifestyle changes you’ve adopted,” says Darden
Adopt these mini moves over the next three months, and you might actually enjoy swimsuit shopping. (Might.)
#1 Mini Move: Use the buddy system
You do everything with your best friends–go shopping, eat lunch, even go to the bathroom–so why not shape up together? “Research shows that accountability keeps people on track,” says Darden. “If you work out with a partner, you’re less likely to blow off an exercise session.” He recommends going to the gym together, texting each other often, and sharing your challenges and setbacks along the way.
Can’t find a workout buddy? Darden suggests that camaraderie can come from social media, too. “Once the Body Fat Breakthrough program began in February 2012, all 65 participants joined an online community, which helped many of them maximize their fat-loss and muscle-gain results,” he says. The members of his program used Facebook to ask each other questions, share recipes, and share their progress. His recommended sites: MyFitnessPal.comand My.Menshealth.com/bellyoff.
#2 Mini Move: Remodel Your Food Environment
The kitchen isn’t the only place where you keep food: You might store snacks in your office, your car, and maybe even your bedroom if you’re guilty of bedtime munching. Well, it’s time renovate: “Rebuild your space to help you avoid temptation and make the easiest choices healthy choices,“ says Darden. For instance, in your freezer, move frozen fruit to the front and move ice cream to the far back or to your garage freezer. Even simple tweaks like putting unhealthy snacks out of arms reach at your desk can help deter bad choices.
#3 Mini Move: Stand Tall
Just because you want to drop some weight for summer, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proud of the body you currently have. Perk up your posture and strut! “The act of standing tall burns more calories than does slouching,” Darden says. “And standing tall even makes you look leaner.” Look leaner and become leaner at the same time? Sold!
To practice good posture, imagine there is a string connected to the top of your head. As you sit, stand, and walk around, this string pulls you upwards while your shoulders relax down and back.
#4 Mini Move: Recover Quickly
It was just supposed to be one chip, but before you knew it, half the bag was gone! It happens. “If you blow your eating plan at one meal, get back on track the next day,” says Darden. “Don’t say, ‘Well, I’ve already blown it–I might as well return to my old ways’” and then finish the rest of the bag. We don’t recommend eating half a bag of chips, but remember, half a bag is still fewer calories than the whole bag. Besides, Darden reminds us, “Everyone loses a battle occasionally. Your job is to win the war. And you do that one meal, one day, and one week at a time.” So one “mistake” isn’t going to make or break a diet.
#5 Mini Move: “No” means NO!
Have a hard time saying no and sticking to it? Practice makes perfect, according to Darden. “The more you practice saying no, the easier it will get and the greater self-control you’ll develop.” His suggestion: Repeat “no” 50 times to get in the habit of actually saying it definitively. Forget about the wishy-washy, “Well, maybe not…” or “I really shouldn’t…” Say no, and mean it. And being assertive works in both directions: Saying yes with gusto to the healthy choices in your life will help you feel good about – and stick with – your new lifestyle.
#6 Mini Move: Pamper Your Pearly Whites
“Next time you get the munchies, just try brushing your teeth,” says Darden. If you’re not actually hungry and just looking for a fun flavor, giving your mouth a splash of mint might help crush the temporary need to snack. And if you’re prone to giving into a sweet tooth, this technique comes in especially handy forsugar cravings. “If you crave something sweet and you brush your teeth with a tingly toothpaste, the taste will temporarily cause anything sweet to taste bitter,” says Darden. Ever tried drinking a glass of OJ after you brush your teeth? That’s a taste that’ll kill any craving.
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