A few years ago, I set out to lose some weight - with one important restriction.
I was never a very active person, and as a rule I don't enjoy exercise. So I challenged myself to lose weight without getting off the couch.
Now I know from personal experience that it can be done. There are some gentle but effective lifestyle changes that can help you feel healthier - without working yourself to exhaustion.
1. Prep Your Meals
Meal prepping has become trendy these days, with people showing off their tidy stacks of pre-portioned lunches and dinners.
But you don't need to eat the same thing every day to see results.
Investing a few minutes each day, or an hour a week, to plan your meals can make a huge impact on your diet.
The more time you spend looking up recipes, shopping for healthy food, and preparing fresh lunches, the less likely you are to eat junk food.
Plus, eating out less often will save you money.
2. Get More Sleep
This tip isn't just about feeling rested and relaxed, although that's a major advantage.
A study by King's College London found that just one extra hour of sleep helps you make better choices about what you eat.
When you're not dealing with brain fog you can make better decisions about your health.
Sleeping longer also spikes your body's supply of the hormone leptin, which makes you feel "full."
Meanwhile, losing sleep will raise your levels of ghrelin, which makes you crave sugar and fat.
3. Organize Your Eating Habits
The fact is, cutting out your favorite food and working up a sweat are not fun or easy for most people.
You diet is probably already mostly healthy, so start by watching what you eat and tracking your eating habits.
Keeping a meal journal or using a tracking app can reveal trends you didn't notice. Do you always snack on sugary pudding right before bed?
Take a measured look at what you eat and slowly adjust how you eat. You'll be surprised by the difference it makes.
4. Drink More Water
I'm sorry, I know you're sick and tired of being told you need to drink more water, but it's true.
For one thing, people often mistake being thirsty for being hungry. The fact is most people are not drinking enough, or eating enough foods rich in water.
Drinking too little also signals your body to start retaining water weight around your midsection. It's easy to shed these first few pounds just by changing your habits.
The National Academies of Science recommend 15.5 cups of water each day for men and 11.5 cups for women. But that includes water from food, which accounts for 20% of your daily intake.
5. Improve Your Posture
We told you there would be no exercise on this list, but this doesn't feel like a workout at all.
Despite that, Biggest Loser trainer Kim Lyons says every time you straighten your back, "you're automatically engaging and toning your stomach muscles."
Improving your carriage is also a simple way to ease the aches and pains of your work day.
Start by leaving a sticky note at your desk, saying "sit up straight." And be careful not to give yourself text neck.
6. Visit The Doctor
If you feel sick and tired, don't assume it's just your weight or your busy schedule.
If you have been living with pain, chronic fatigue, or anxiety that impacts your health, don't be afraid to get a second opinion.
Even small changes to your hormones, liver function, blood sugar levels, or thyroid can leave you feeling wiped out.
7. Start Your Day Off Right
After getting a healthy amount of sleep, reward yourself with a filling breakfast.
Many busy adults skip this meal, which is a terrible idea for your diet and health overall.
First, taking time to eat a healthy meal at the start of the day is an effective stress buster.
Second, a filling meal right after waking helps keep your metabolism steady for the rest of the day.
Yes, that meas adding a meal to your day can actually help you get in shape.
Just make sure it's not something sugary and slim like a Pop Tart. You need filling and rich food like eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, and peanut butter.