50 Things You Can Do Today to Lose Weight
These simple, little changes add up to big results on the scale.
Get a little ~fancy~ with yourself
Ditch the leggings or sweats and put on an outfit that makes you feel fantastic. Not only will you look sharper but well-fitted clothing can help you lose weight, says JJ Virgin, CNS, CHFS, author of the Sugar Impact Diet. “Elastic waistbands, baggy sweaters, and other loose clothing practically invite you to overeat,” she says. Wearing skinny jeans will remind you of your goals and when you look hot, you feel hot, so you’ll think twice before getting seconds at dinner.
Post your beautiful brunch on social media before you eat it
We’re not telling you to turn into one of those annoying people who posts a picture of every bite before you eat it. But, according to a study done by the University of California, Irvine, the action of posting your food makes you more conscious of what you’ve eaten, helping you to naturally eat less.
Go make some puppy’s day
Having a dog can slash your risk of obesity, says the American Heart Association. Dogs are persistent about getting their walks in and you love them too much to say no (well, most of the time). It’s not just about exercise though, the researchers noted that petting an animal greatly reduces stress and depression, two other known risk factors for weight gain. No pet of your own? Volunteer to play with and walk the pups at your local shelter—you’ll feel amazing physically and mentally after! Here are some more easy ways to lose weight naturally.
Stick to the three-bite rule
Time to drop your membership in the Clean Plate Club. Finishing every last lick of food isn’t saving starving kids in other countries and it definitely isn’t saving your waistline. “I advise my clients to follow the three bites rule,” says Chelsey Amer, RD, in Manhattan. “This means you should leave three bites left over on your plate at every meal. You won’t even miss them, I promise, and you’ll lose weight,” she says.
Go for a walk with an empty tummy
In a world filled with pre-workout drinks and portable protein bars, you may think that having a snack first is vital to having a good workout. Not so, says David Nico, PhD, author of Diet Diagnosis. “If you want to burn fat, I recommend doing 20 to 30 minutes of cardio every day on an empty stomach,” he says.
Eat a bunch of (good) bacteria
The bacteria in your gut has way more to do with what you weigh than you might think—having the right bugs can help rev your metabolism while overfeeding the bad ones can give you sugar cravings. This is why making sure your gut is colonized with beneficial types of bacteria is so important—but think yogurt smoothies, not skipping handwashing after you use the bathroom. One way to reduce your BMI is to take certain probiotics, according to a study published in The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.
Buy a neon-colored water bottle covered in Marvel superheroes
Sure, you’ve heard the tip to “drink more water” about a zillion times—and with good reason, it does help reduce cravings and increase fullness—but it only works if you actually drink more water, Amer says. Buy a fancy digital water bottle that counts refills for you, tape pictures of your kids faces on a bottle, buy a neon-pink bottle with cartoon characters on it—whatever it takes to catch your attention so you’ll remember to take a swig! Find out 9 things that happen to your body when you drink enough water.
Make an appointment with a therapist
People think that they should be able to handle something as simple as food on their own but what, when, and how we eat is actually a really complex process and can be extra challenging if you’re dealing with other life issues. “If you just can’t seem to lose weight, perhaps you need to figure out what caused the weight gain in the first place,” says Leah de Souza-Thomas, MPH, epidemiologist and founder of The Thrive Practice.
Pick the 30-lb box of cat litter
Strength training not only prevents you from losing muscle while you lose weight but it can lead to faster weight loss as muscle increases your metabolism, Nico says. “I recommend doing some type of strength training two to three times a week,” he says. No worries if you’re not a gym rat though—lifting anything heavy counts, including milk jugs, bags of dog food, or your kids. Check out these simple ways to boost your metabolism.
Don’t get fooled by the “health halo” effect
A handful of nuts and dried fruit is definitely a healthier choice than a slice of cheesecake but that “healthy” snack can pack almost the same amount of calories and fat, especially if you don’t take the time to measure out your portions, says Fiola Sowemimo, MD, board-certified in internal and bariatric medicine. “Many people think if it’s healthy you can eat as much as you want but it’s important to limit ‘recreational’ eating, no matter how healthy the snack,” she explains. When you do snack, make sure you’re choosing the right kind; try these 30 healthy snacks.
Stop it with the “taste testing”
Taking a taste or two while you’re cooking or from the tasting table at a store can help you decide if you got the seasoning right or if you really want to buy that 20-pound box of spanokopita (looking at you Costco!). But those little bites, licks, and sips can really add up, says Shari Portnoy, MPH, a registered dietitian in New York City. “I’ve seen people eat the equivalent of a meal before they ever sit down to the actual meal,” she says.
Channel your inner hippie in the grocery store
When it comes to processed foods, it’s not just the sugar and trans fats doing the damage. Many popular artificial flavorings, colors, sweeteners, and preservatives have been linked with weight gain and obesity, according to a study done by Georgia State University. Emulsifiers, which are added to most processed foods for texture and to extend shelf life, are one of the worst offenders as they interfere with good gut bacteria. Look at the package before you buy and try to pick one without extra additives—it’ll taste just as great.
Fake a vodka tonic with a club soda with a twist of lime
Happy hour isn’t so happy when you consider the toll it takes on your waistline, Dr. Sowemimo says. In fact, alcohol can be one of the biggest factors in weight gain, especially if you’re drinking fruity cocktails or using other sugary mixers. “One of the top tips I give to my patients looking to lose weight is to avoid excess alcohol,” she says. Find out more tiny diet changes that can help you lose weight.
Play hopscotch, tag, and tea party
If you traded in your gym bag for a diaper bag when you had kids, you may think that a real workout is as much of a dream as an entire night’s sleep. Good news, parents! You gave birth to a weight set, a cardio machine, and a personal trainer, all in one, says Kelly Morgan, PhD, a certified health coach. “The movement you do all day lifting up little ones, chasing after rambunctious toddlers, and cleaning everything in their wake is great activity. Take advantage of this by extending stroller walks, playground visits, and even wrestling in bed—these all burn calories!”
Don’t eat off the clock
Quitting time doesn’t just apply to your day job, you should also have one for eating, Dr. Sowemimo says. Pick a time after dinner, say 7 p.m., and don’t eat anything after that point. “No matter how nutritious a meal is, if eaten too late in the day, one does not have the time to burn it off and use it for fuel for the day. It ends up being stored as fat,” she says.
Set a “take a lap” alarm on your phone
Taking a quick, brisk walk—even if it’s just around your office or house—for five minutes can make a big difference in your health and help you lose weight, says Erin Paruszewski, fitness expert and CEO of Alkalign. “Whether you work in an office or from home, stay active during the day by setting an alarm that reminds you to take a lap at least once per hour,” she says.
Pick the parking spot no one else wants
Good parking spots are at a premium and competing for one can be super stressful. Your loss is actually your gain in this situation, Paruszewski says. “Park as far away as you can at the gym, mall, grocery store, or coffee shop and get in some extra steps in your day,” she says. “Plus, it’s a lot more enjoyable than road rage.” Check out these ways to jump-start your metabolism.
Swap out your bathroom scale for a produce scale
Daily weigh-ins can make you crazy, as many dieters can attest. Plus they’re not always the most accurate measurement of your progress as that number can be affected by everything from your hormones to the time of day. “Instead I teach my clients to focus on another easy measurement: Getting all their servings of vegetables each day,” says Rebecca Clyde, RD and owner of Nourish Nutrition Co. With this habit, you’re adding something positive and the vegetables will naturally help fill you up.”
Clip that Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon
A bad night’s sleep isn’t just bad for your mood, it can also mess up your weight loss goals. People who skimped on sleep ate nearly 400 calories more the day, according to research published in the European Journal of Nutrition. If you really want to lose weight, you’ve got to make good sleep a priority. Check out these 9 ways to lose weight in your sleep.
Protein + fiber = recipe for skinny jeans
Some foods work best when eaten together—and we don’t mean peanut butter and chocolate. Rather, make sure every snack and meal you eat combines a healthy source of protein and a good dose of fiber, says Beth Warren, RD, author of Living a Real Life With Real Food. “This combo guarantees both fullness and satisfaction, which helps curb cravings and balance blood sugar and ultimately can help with weight loss,” she says. Find out power food pairings you should be eating every day.
Pop a stick of mint gum in your mouth
If you’re worried about forgetting not to taste your meal while you’re making it or grabbing an M&M every time you walk by the office bowl of candy, chew a stick of mint gum, Portnoy says. The powerful flavor and act of chewing will remind you not to put something else in your mouth.
Trim any visible fat from your meat
It’s not that eating fat will necessarily make you fat but it’s about finding little ways to cut calories, Lau says. All of these little subtractions add up over a day and can have big results on the scale. Start with giving your meat a once-over and remove any visible fat, she suggests. For example, by removing the skin of a 4 oz chicken thigh, you will be consuming 100 fewer calories. Find out other weight-loss foods to lose weight fast.
Channel your inner European and pull out your bike
Americans tend to think of bicycles for things like mountain biking or road races but we need to take a page from our friends across the pond and make them a part of our daily lives, says Janis Isaman, a certified exercise coach and owner of Calgary-based My Body Couture. “Bicycles are as efficient and effective as public transit, cabs, or cars, and they’re great exercise,” she says. “Plus you can hang bags of groceries off the handlebars!”
Make a big mess
Clean freak? Don’t be so quick to clear the table when you eat. Seeing the pile of candy wrappers, fruit peels, nut shells, chicken bones, empty boxes, and other waste leftovers from your meal reminds you of how much you’ve eaten and can help you recognize when you’ve had enough and stop eating, according to research done by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.
Install a health-tracking app
Keeping a food journal is a great way to become conscious of everything you’re really eating in a day but carrying around a paper and pen is a pain—and totally unnecessary in our high-tech age. “Use a smartphone app, like My Fitness Pal, to track your daily intake of food, your steps, and your sleep schedule,” says Karen Lau, a registered dietitian at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. “Many people find that the act of having to log it on their phone makes them less likely to eat something.”
Add some ice to your drink
Want an easy way to burn more calories? Pop some ice cubes into your drink. This forces your body to work harder to digest it. People who drank six cups of chilled water a day raised their resting metabolism by 12 percent, burning an extra 50 calories, according to a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Fifty calories may not seem like much but the researchers say just this one trick can help you lose about five pounds a year. Make sure you know about these metabolism myths that could be ruining your weight-loss.
Listen to your dad and turn the thermostat down
The ice effect isn’t just for drinks, it also works for bodies! Staying the same temperature year round, thanks to set thermostats, may be one factor in the obesity epidemic, according to a study published in the journal Cell. The scientists found that regular exposure to mildly cold weather helps the human body maintain a healthy weight and increases metabolism. Just lowering your thermostat by a few degrees can help.
Skip the megastores
It may feel like more work to visit several smaller local stores to pick up your groceries, produce, pet food, and shoes but shopping locally is an easy way to increase your steps and lose weight, all while supporting your community, Isaman says.
Print a weekly meal plan from Pinterest
I AM NIKOM/Shutterstock
You know those cute “What’s for dinner” chalkboards? Well, they’re not just for decoration or trendy Instagram pictures. In fact, planning out your meals in advance can help you lose weight. “Having a menu will make you less likely to dial for delivery or eat junk food,” says Kit Broihier, RD and owner of Nutricomm Inc.
Choose brown foods over white
Aleksandr and Lidia/Shutterstock
You don’t have to give up all the foods you love to lose weight—in fact, doing so can backfire, causing you to binge. Instead, try making small, healthy swaps, Lau says. “Think brown rice, bread or pasta instead of white,” she says. “Whole grain products have more fiber and help keep you fuller for a longer period so you eat less.” Whole grains are one of the 7 foods guaranteed to boost your good gut bacteria.
Take up knitting or 3-D puzzles
Think you’re powerless in the face of that chocolate cake in the break room or the leftover candy in your closet? You’re not a slave to your cravings and distracting yourself with something physical, like handicrafts or puzzles, can make you forget all about them, says Kelly Morrow Baez, PhD, licensed professional counselor and private weight loss coach. “The average food craving only lasts for about 15 minutes, so find something to do that will distract you for 15 minutes,” she says.
Make a pot of your mom’s chili
Beans are known as the magical fruit and it’s not just for their epic fart-causing powers. Eating beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can help you lose weight, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They are the perfect blend of satiating fiber and protein. People who ate just 3/4 cup of legumes a day lost half a pound a week without changing their diet or exercise habits.
Give yourself an adult time-out
Time out isn’t actually a punishment for adults and can even be a boon when it comes to losing weight. “Meditation and stress relief exercises help to regulate cortisol, a hormone known to cause weight gain,” says Jared Koch, certified health coach and nutritionist, founder of CleanPlates.com . Take five minutes to meditate (there’s an app for that!), do some yoga stretches, or simply breathe deeply.
Eat off of your daughter’s My Little Pony dishes
Smaller plates = smaller portions! Using a salad plate or a child’s bowl can help you feel like you’re still getting a full plate’s worth of food but with less actual food on the plate, says Cornell’s Food Lab. This is a sneaky way to exercise portion control without breaking out the measuring cups and food scale. Plus, your kids will be super entertained watching you eat off their Moana dish set. Check out more weight loss tips that have nothing to do with diet or exercise.
Turn all the lights up
OK, so your dad wouldn’t be proud of your wanton use of electricity but the extra wattage can help you ditch the extra pounds, according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research. People who ate in well-lit dining areas were 16 to 24 percent more likely to order healthy fare, the researchers found.
Make your mobile phone live up to its name
Got a long telephone call, like a chat with your mom or a conference call, on your schedule? Take a walk while you talk, after all, they don’t call them mobile phones for nothing, says Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer and health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. “Instead of sitting on the couch for half an hour exercising your vocal cords, why not exercise your legs as well,” he says. “You’ll see your energy levels rise while your weight drops!”
Channel Cinderella and pull out the mop and bucket
No one loves the idea of doing chores but going the extra mile in cleaning your house adds up. Not only do you burn more calories but depending on the chore, it can also increase your muscle which will burn calories long after you stop moving, Backe says. “No more excuses—now you know that you getting a clean house and a workout at the same time,” he says.
Just say no to drugs… like soda
Deep-sixing sugary beverages is one of the most common weight-loss tips out there but that’s because it really works, says Brittany Markides, RD, lecturer in nutrition at Texas State University and the founder of Choose Food. Research has shown there is something uniquely addicting about soda and there is a strong relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain, she explains. Scientists have found that simply quitting sugar-sweetened beverages can result in serious weight loss even if this is the only change you make.
Do a real-life Facetime with your actual face
The next time you need to chat with someone close by, skip the text, email, or Facetime call and just walk yourself over there, Isaman says. Walking down the hall to talk to someone, instead of relying on technology will not only make a better connection with them but it can also help your waistline too, she says. Don’t miss these weight-loss secrets from around the world that are worth stealing.
Put your candy bars in a bag of broccoli in your freezer
Out of sight, out of mind actually works really well for nixing cravings for junk food, says Jen Flachbart, M.S., RD, and owner of Plant Roots Nutrition. “Hide junk food or, better yet, don’t buy it all. Instead, move healthy snacks, like fruit, to a place you’ll see them first,” she says. “You’ll be much more likely to munch on the healthy snacks this way and lose a few pounds in the process.”
Get ok with feeling hungry
You may have heard that you need to eat every few hours to keep your metabolism revved and your hunger at bay. This is a huge myth, says Sylvia North, RD and integrative nutritionist at Fearless Nutrition. Constant snacking has the opposite effect, keeping your blood sugar high and teaching you to eat when you’re not truly hungry. “People think they should never feel hungry but a little hunger is good for you,” she says. “Feeling a little hungry between meals leads to weight loss. Focus on eating three nutrient-dense meals and minus the extras in between.” Check out the 50 things your doctor wishes you knew about losing weight.
Rethink how you treat seasonal sniffles
File this under shocking-but-true: Your allergy meds could be causing you to gain weight. “Some common over the counter medications can hurt weight loss. I advise people trying to lose weight to use antihistamines sparingly,” says Chandler Park, MD, founder of CancerVisit.com at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Instead, he recommends spot treating the symptoms, like using a nasal spray for a runny nose or eye drops for itchy eyes.
Put your gym bag in your car now
How many of us have started the day with good intentions to hit the gym during lunch or after work, only to discover we’ve left our gym bag at home? Um, yeah, probably all of us. Unless you’re the type to go hit the weight machines in your heels or jeans, that means missing a workout. “I tell my clients to always pack sneakers and workout clothes in your car in case you forget your gym bag or an opportunity to get active outside arises,” says Astrid Swan, a Barry’s Bootcamp Instructor and Premier Protein Ambassador.
Set a weekly walking date with a friend
Everything is better with a friend, including exercise, Swan says. In fact, once the conversation gets going, you may even forget you’re working out at all! Plus, scheduling a walk or gym class with a friend will hold you accountable for actually showing up, she adds.
Pour your Diet Coke and lite yogurt down the drain
For a while, artificial sweeteners like Splenda and aspartame, seemed like a dieter’s dream—a way to literally have your cake and eat it too, while still losing weight. Unfortunately, the latest research shows that this is too good to be true. They don’t lead to long-term weight loss and can even cause weight gain, according to research published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. The artificial chemicals interfere with important enzymes and hormones in your body, leading to increased waist size.
Wear perfume with vanilla notes
Ironically, the scent most associated with chocolate chip cookies—vanilla—may be a trick for effortless weight loss, according to a study done by St George’s hospital in London. People who wore a vanilla-scented patch reported fewer cravings, especially those for desserts and sweets. Light a vanilla candle, burn some incense, or just dab a little extract behind your ears.
Say your weight loss goal out loud, to someone else
A goal you haven’t spoken aloud is really just a wish. Sharing your weight loss goals with a friend or family member will help you clarify why you are trying to lose weight, how you plan to go about it, and help keep you accountable for sticking to it, says Lisa Cohn, RD and consultant for miVIP Surgery Centers.
Have oatmeal for breakfast
“When consumed with lots of water, soluble fibers such as oats are key to losing weight quickly,” Cohn says. Add extra fat-busting to your bowl by mixing in flavored protein powder or Greek yogurt, nuts packed with healthy fats, or fiber-filled berries. Plus, eating a filling, healthy breakfast can help you lose weight, according to research done by the National Weight Loss Registry. Check out these simple ways to burn fat fast.
Drink two glasses of water before your meal
Water isn’t just good for keeping you hydrated and cutting cravings; if you drink it right before a meal it can fill you up, helping you eat less overall, says Megan Casper, RD and owner of Megan Casper Nutrition. One recent study found that people who drank two glasses of water before a meal lost more weight and kept it off. Don’t love plain water? Add a twist of fresh lemon or go for a can of flavored sparkling water.
Go visit your local botanical gardens or national park
Taking a hike through the mountains is certainly good exercise but you don’t have to break a sweat to take advantage of mother nature’s health package. Simply being outside in “green areas” is linked to having a lower body weight, according to research done by the American Diabetes Association. And good news: The vast majority of Americans already live within walking distance of some type of park so get out there and explore your neighborhood. Next, read on for 42 easy tips to help you lose weight fast.