1. Just take a walk
That’s it. Start with something you know you can accomplish: Go for a 30-minute walk after dinner. Don’t worry about speed; don’t worry about distance. Just walk. Go out 15 minutes, come back 15 minutes. If it’s not safe for you to walk at night where you live, do it on your lunch hour or some other time of day. What you want to do is create a habit. This is a very simple way to start training yourself to live differently. Ultimately, use these walks to segue into a more vigorous cardiovascular workout routine. This could be anything from more walking to running or working out on an elliptical trainer. Here are some of the most inspiring, real-life weight-loss stories you will ever read.
2. Upset your grocery cart
Our grocery store rituals are embedded in our psyches. We’re all always grabbing the same stuff—it’s one of the hardest habits to break. If the same stuff were always, say, broccoli, carrots, strawberries, fish, whole-grain bread, a bag of beans, and almonds, that habit wouldn’t be a problem. But you know and I know it’s not. Do your regular shopping and choose the things you usually do. Count how many packages are in your cart versus the number of produce or meat/poultry/seafood bags (frozen food bags only count if you have healthy frozen fruits and vegetables or lean sources of protein like fish in them). Write it down. Twenty-five packaged goods, three bags of fruits and vegetables, one bag from the poultry department, whatever. The next time you go to the market, shift the balance. If you have 25 packaged goods, try to get it to less than 20 items. The next time, get it to less than 15 packaged items. Before you know it, you will have totally transformed your kitchen without even trying. Here are 50 supermarket tricks you probably fall for.
3. Turn “I can’t” into “I can”
There are two types of people. Those who say they can and those that say they can’t, and both are right. You’re about to gradually become an “I can” person. Start counting how many times a day you either say out loud or to yourself “I can’t.” It doesn’t have to relate to eating or exercise. Maybe you say things like, “I can’t finish all these dishes tonight, I have to go to bed” or “I can’t face looking at the want-ads even though I know I need a new job.” It could be anything, big or small. Just count how many times you stop yourself from doing something because you don’t think you’re capable. Tomorrow, start replacing one of those “I can’ts” with “I can.” If you counted seven “I can’ts,” knock it down to six. Reduce the number the following day, then again the day after that. Train your brain. You think you can never avoid the cupcakes they bring in for birthday parties at work? Try it. Tell yourself, “I can avoid them,” then watch yourself succeed.
4. Partner up
Over the last few years, something has come to light about people who live well into their 90s and even to 100. All of them have a sense of community. They reach out to other people. Identify someone—or several people—that you can exercise with. It can be a spouse, your child, a neighbor, a friend, a relative, even just an acquaintance that you think would be willing. This is going to allow you to kill two birds with one stone. You’ll get out and move because there is someone there to hold you accountable (just as you are there to hold the other person accountable). It will also give you the opportunity to add that all-important social factor to your day.
5. Tune into your hunger cues
You're probably not as hungry as you think. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you like to pile up your plate high. And maybe once you’ve stuffed all of that food down, you feel pretty uncomfortable. Still, you do it again at the next meal, and the one after that. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach because it takes time for your brain to get the signal that your stomach has had enough. If you keep eating without pause, you’re never going to get the message. Make up your dinner plate as you normally would. Dish up the vegetables, put some chicken beside it, spoon on some rice—whatever you usually eat when you’re trying to eat healthfully. Eat half of it. Take your plate into the kitchen, and go for a 30-minute walk. If you’re still hungry after the 30 minutes are up, eat the rest of the food. Most people never do. These hunger-fighting foods can help you lose weight.
6. Record your victories
Little acts of courage are performed every day, yet often go unnoticed. But there’s no doubt that they add up and can even inspire you to do bigger things. Keep a log of your little victories. Write down three things each day that you accomplish. “I went to the gym even though I didn’t want to.” “I took care of that huge pile of laundry that was covering the floor of my bedroom.” It only has to be a few sentences a day, but putting a date stamp on it will serve its purpose six months from now when you look back and see how many successes you’ve racked up.
7. Take a lunch “break”
What I really mean is break up your lunch. One season, we made our cast members walk three miles to Subway, the sandwich shop. They were probably happy to have arrived, but before they could get too complacent, we told them they were only getting part of their lunch—to get the rest, they’d have to walk to the next Subway, another three miles away. You may not have the luxury of getting six miles in during lunch, but you can still break it up. Buy an apple at one place, then walk to another place for your sandwich, then another place for your drink. If you don’t work in a place where you can walk restaurant to restaurant, or if you’re brown-bagging it, split your lunch break in half: Spend half the time—or less—eating, then spend the remaining minutes going for a walk. These healthy salad recipes can make lunch fun again.
8: Spread the love
Ever look in the mirror or just find yourself going about your day thinking, “I love myself”? Most people don’t, and of course, it would be a little weird to walk around expressing self-love. That said, it is worthwhile to remind yourself occasionally that you matter to you. Stop what you’re doing at least five times and love yourself. When the negative thoughts come, and they will, replace those with love. So today it’s not, “I can’t believe I’m so fat” or “I hate myself because I have no willpower”; instead it’s “I am a strong person who can overcome adversity” and “I am a good person who has done good for others.” Give yourself the love, forgiveness, and encouragement that you give other people, and amazing things will start to happen.
9. Everybody needs a mantra
Working out is hard; making the right decisions about food is hard. But what if you had a mantra, a reminder that swims around your head providing encouragement and reinforcement. When you think you can’t do that last rep or push-up, when you want to walk off the treadmill at 58 minutes, not 60 like you promised yourself, when you hear that bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips calling your name, pull out that mantra. If there’s some quote you’ve heard that speaks to you, make it your mantra. Or create your own. Here are a few that might work for you, too: "Whatever you put into it, you’re going to get out of it." "The only thing in life that isn’t hereditary is your attitude. " "Fall down five times, get up six." One of my favorite mantras was one used by a cast member named Rod. Whenever he was wavering on working out or about to cheat on his diet, he’d say to himself, “Can’t go back . . . won’t go back. . . . Not this time.” He even got it tattooed on the inside of his forearms.
10. See it, believe it
When everyone around you is enjoying pizza and beer, ordering the salad and sparkling water feels like punishment. Remember why you’re doing this. Go into your closet and pull out that pair of jeans that hasn’t fit you in years, and bring them out. Hang them somewhere in your bedroom so that every time you walk in, you can see them. We once had someone on the show that hung the dress she wanted to wear on her refrigerator. Every time she went to get something to eat, she had to make the right choice. That’s drastic, but a good idea.