Well, it’s early January, so that means many of us have made resolutions to finally lose that 5, 10, 20 lbs. If that’s you, then no doubt you’re seeing all the juice cleanses, extreme diet and exercise plans and other things for sale all over the place right now.
But wait! Before you reach for your wallet, here are three completely simple, zero-cost, scientifically proven things you can start doing today that can lead to weight loss. No gimmicks, we promise.
Drink more water
You already know how essential water is to good health. For anyone trying to lose weight, it’s even more important. Not only does staying hydrated help keep your metabolism humming, it might also help keep you from overeating. Research published last summer in the journal Obesity found that obese adults who drank 16 ounces of water before meals for 12 weeks lost more weight than another group that didn’t sip before eating. And the more water they drank, the more weight they lost.
A few tips for staying hydrated: Along with drinking water before meals, have a glass after each meal and snack. Drink a glass upon waking up (I like to squeeze in some fresh lemon), and be sure to listen to your thirst when you work out. Infuse your water with tasty whole fruit if that will help you sip more.
Get more sleep
If you’re one of those people who think they get by just fine on 5 hours of sleep (or less), think again. The vast majority of adults need 7 to 9 hours per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The organization estimates that sleep debt costs the U.S. $66 billion because of additional health care costs, lost productivity, and other problems. And it doesn’t take much sleep loss to be affected; a study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the Endocrine Society suggested that even 30 minutes of lost sleep could lead to greater likelihood of insulin resistance and obesity.
Trouble sleeping? Try limiting screen time at least an hour before bed so you have sufficient time to wind down, and when you get in bed make sure your room is dark and cool. If all else fails, see your doctor. Good rest is essential for your overall health.
Watch less TV
Multiple studies indicate that time spent in front of the tube to a higher risk for overweight and obesity—and it makes sense. All that time lounging on your couch is time you're not spending at the gym.
That said, you don’t have to cancel Netflix or give up your favorite shows. But one thing you can do is choose the shows you really love and cut out the rest. If you find yourself just zoning out in front of the TV, or if turning it on at night is simply a habit, try to create a new habit. Many people use mindless TV to de-stress. If that's you, try calling a friend (and pacing around the house while you chat) or doing some at-home yoga.