And who isn’t busy? We’ve been talking quite a bit so far this week about how fast-paced and hectic our lifestyles are (especially in April, it seems). The idea of losing weight typically generates rather glamorous images: personal trainers, hours in the gym on complicated equipment, expensive groceries and making a veritable career out of cooking dinner.
Statistically, we’re both the busiest and fattest bunch of people on earth, so it’s not hard to see why the thought of weight loss carries such impossibly glamorous, time-sucking connotations. Fortunately, our idea of what’s required is not really accurate – whether you want to lose ten pounds or fifty. Of course, diet pills and exercise gadgets you see on infomercials don’t work – it’s not quite that easy. But losing weight is surprisingly simple if you apply a few tips consistently.
Here are ten of my favorite ways to get started today:
10. No More Frivolous Bread
What’s the harm of one roll at dinner, right? A lot more than you think. Bread baskets are ubiquitous, and they’re also worthless. Make it a habit to avoid these freebie wasteful calories, period. After a few weeks you will notice a difference. It’s too easy!
This seems obvious, but many of us are guilty of over-eating. I was surprised to learn recently that liver disease is an alarming new problem (truly an epidemic), but not because of excessive alcohol consumption. It’s because of excessive food consumption! It’s really true that restaurant portions are two to three times more than you need – and that’s standard. Here’s how to deal: eat until that point where your stomach is no longer growling, but you could still eat a bit more. From now on, simply stop when you get to that point. It only takes one or two times to realize how incredible this feels. The busiest person can eat less.
8. Get It To Go
I’m not talking about take-out. Anytime you dine out, get half the meal into a doggy bag before you even start. You don’t have to cook all your meals to lose weight; just eat less when you are out. Hey, you’ll save cash, too!
Many of us consume several hundred empty, sugary calories daily without realizing it – lattes, sodas, “energy” drinks, sports drinks, smoothies and so on. Unless these drinks are replacing a meal or supplementing a really small meal, don’t drink them. I like to have frequent protein and fiber smoothies, but they typically replace a meal, or I make sure to get in a really intense workout session.
What to do: stick with water and the occasional glass of wine or a light beer. Make calorie-rich drinks a treat, because they really are more like dessert and should be viewed as such. That daily latte is packing on as much as half a pound a week. It’s easy to see why people can gain ten or fifteen pounds a year without knowing why – these little treats have a terrible cumulative affect on your waistline (and health). Busy and need a lift? Grab a water bottle to go instead of a mocha. Realize that most of these drinks are really just glorified milkshakes.
Most of us get caught up in the vanity of weight loss – we just want to look good! There’s nothing wrong with that. But remember that being overweight is behind most of the major causes of death in this country – and nearly all of them are preventable! This isn’t about having the perfect abs or being a size 4. Even a ten-pound weight loss can add years of good health to your life. Time it takes to realize this: you just did!
5. Snack, Part A
We have become a culture of constant eaters. We’re always snacking – bars, chips, bags of treats, candy, cheese, it never ends. We often eat more than the serving size when we snack (who ever eats only seven chips?). Learn to slow down and enjoy meals, and think about the calories you’re putting into your mouth. Simply practice being aware of everything you eat. This doesn’t take up your time, and it makes a big difference in how much you eat.
When you snack, snack on fruit or veggies. Your body will soon grow to crave them instead of the other unhealthy treats. Humans become easily habituated to any substance – make this work for you, not against you. Busy folks have no excuse: pre-washed, chopped veggies are available in most grocery stores, and you can always get the kids to take on the chore of tossing rinsed veggies into baggies for a week’s worth of snacks all ready to grab and go.
3. Lunch Dilemmas
Many of us eat too much or chow on unhealthy lunches because we’re in a rush or just can’t get away from the desk. Two easy, quick fixes for even the busiest souls:
– If you eat home-made lunches, you don’t have to keep buying and consuming the same old pre-made junk. Buy and consume bagged salads instead. There is almost always one variety of bagged lettuce on sale. Keep a bottle of balsamic vinegar at work, and you’re good to go. This doesn’t take any more time than microwaving a pre-made meal high in carbohydrates and bad fats and you’ll save thousands of calories (translation: a couple of pounds) a week.
– If you and the gang dine out for lunch, just start ordering salads instead of sandwiches and pastas. Lay off the croutons and franken-dressings, and you’re well on your way to losing weight in just a few weeks. Salads shouldn’t be a once-in-a-while healthy notion. Greens of some sort should be a daily habit. They are what we are meant to eat.
Too tired to whip up a healthy, nutritious dinner? We all are. Fortunately, healthy dinners really don’t take very long. In fact, heating up a huge bag of vegetables and drenching them in olive oil and tasty spices takes less time than waiting for the pizza to arrive. Get into the habit of eating veggies for dinner at least 3 or 4 days a week, and watch the pounds run. in. terror.
I eat pretty light dinners, but if you need more protein in your evening meal, bake up a big bag of frozen chicken breasts once a week so they’re ready to slice and toss into the vegetables. Now seriously, did that take any time at all?
1. Bottom Line
For people on the go, the bottom line for weight loss comes down to reducing portions. Avoid the empty calorie traps – pre-made meals, coffee drinks, snacks. These are the bane of any busy person’s existence. Avoiding them doesn’t mean you must alternatively slave over freshly-made meals or spend hours at the gym every week.
And recognize that convenience and speed apply equally to vegetables and low-calorie foods like salads, too. So make the better choice.
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Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.