This is not a diet — or a rigorous exercise program. (Nobody can stick to those for long.) Instead, it’s a simple way to make weight loss a natural part of the life you already live. And guess what? It’s fun! You don’t have to give up the foods you love or join a gym. It’s about balancing calories in tiny ways that add up to big benefits. You just adopt some tricks naturally lean people do. Pick the ones you like, stick with them, and you’ll slim down and tone up — for good!
1. Wake-up workout When your eyes open, sit up slowly without using your hands. With legs straight out, lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your back and hamstrings. Hold; then, using your abs, lower yourself flat. Rest and repeat two more times. Strengthens core. Burns 10 calories
2. Go for the grains Not ready for Twigs & Rocks cereal? Sprinkle on a few tablespoons of wheat germ or oat bran. Work up to 3/4 cup of low-sugar whole-grain cereal with at least three grams of fiber per serving, and you’ll pass on that Danish. Saves 100
3. Add some protein The more you eat earlier on, the less you eat as the day wears on, research has shown. So after your cereal, add a hard-boiled egg or a part-skim mozzarella cheese stick to keep you feeling full — and away from that pre-lunch brownie. Saves 200 (or more)
4. Balance booster While you brush your teeth, alternate standing on one leg as you switch mouth quadrants (every 30 seconds). Balancing develops your core muscles and may even be good for your brain. Burns 10
5. Be a ballerina As your coffee drips, stand sideways, put one hand on the counter, and lift the outside leg straight out in front of you, keeping it extended. With upper body straight, hold for a few seconds and move it to the side; hold and extend it behind you. Do five to ten times on each leg. Tones outer thighs, hip flexors and quadriceps. Burns 10
6. Coffee saver Instead of pouring that 1/3 cup of half-and-half (a whopping 105 calories!) into your mug, replace it with the same amount of 2% milk. Saves 60
7. Better your bagel You can walk 10,000 steps to justify your 500-calorie bagel with cream cheese, or try this: low-fat spreadable cheese like Laughing Cow Light on an English muffin. Saves 300
8. Tone in traffic Use the time spent bumper-to-bumper to develop your buns of steel: Squeeze your derrière each time you tap the brake, holding for 10 seconds. Shoot for 10 to 15 squeezes a trip. Burns 10
9. Snack smarter Portion out the day’s snacks into pint-size zip bags, or buy single-serving portions. For example, four regular Oreos have 200 calories versus the 100-calorie snack bag version. Go for the lower fat chips: a Lay’s Light bag has only 75 calories, while the regular has 150. Saves 175 (over two snacks)
10. Casual day payoff You will blast more calories during the day wearing comfy clothes like jeans or khakis, sport shirts and soft-soled shoes than donning constricting suits, skirts and heels. Why? Because you walk more, a study found. Now you just have to convince the boss. Burns 25
11. You know squat! At your desk chair, pretend you’re going to sit but don’t — stop and come back up without using your arms. Always start squats by lowering your hips, not bending knees forward, and keeping your weight on your heels. Repeat the motion throughout the day (even at the potty!) for 15 to 20 total. Strengthens quadriceps. Burns 15
12. Switch your soda Your body doesn’t register calories from liquids the same way it does those from foods, so you won’t get those “stop eating” signals to help you compensate for the overload later on. Change from two glasses of regular soda or fruit juice to diet soda or a flavored seltzer. Saves 300
13. Talk it up Every time you grab the phone, stand up and pace around. Heavy people sit on average two and a half hours more per day than thin people, according to the Mayo Clinic. Burns 50 or more
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