When you’re trying to lose weight, small changes really count. Here are 15 small modifications you can make to your every day life to help see the pounds melt off. Note: This post contains affiliate links. Read more about that here.
When you’re ready to “go for it” in terms of weight loss, it can be easy to focus on the big changes that need to happen. For example, my “big-picture” mind says to stop eating junk and start moving my body more. But what does that really mean?
In truth, it means making a ton of small changes that will ultimately lead to BIG changes.
If you want to lose weight, this is actually a good thing. Small changes are easier to focus on and small-scale goals are more easily met than big ones. They are the stepping stones to big changes. Truthfully, we can’t genuinely and permanently change our lives and lose weight without these little changes.
15 Small Changes to Make If You Want to Lose Weight
Stop drinking your calories.
There are exceptions to this rule depending on your goals, but in order to eliminate sugar, you should be drinking mostly water. I make exceptions for shakes and smoothies, but otherwise, you should be spending your calories on nutritious foods, not drinks. The goal is to stay hydrated and jam-pack your foods with nutrients. If you’re a juice or soda drinker, this can be a big one.
Eliminate hidden sugars.
Sugars that don’t get used as energy immediately get stored as fat. That means that if you are drinking sugary drinks or eating other sugary foods, you are almost always adding extra fat to your body’s reserves. It’s obvious that sugar is in candy and soda, but have you paid attention to how much sugar there is in breads, salad dressings, yogurt, etc? You’ll be surprised at how many things have extra sugar added. Check out this link to read more about hidden sugars. Just eliminating one food subgroup or swapping it for a healthier brand can help.
Increase your water intake, big time.
Water not only flushes out toxins, it keeps you from getting headaches related to dehydration. That means you can workout harder and stay focused. Drinking water also helps keep your tummy feeling full in between meals and some research suggests it helps increase your metabolism, too. When you’re trying to lose weight, everything counts.
Start to meal plan, even if it’s not consistent.
Meal planning and prepping consistently can be a huge commitment. But just knowing what you will cook even and making a plan (even if you don’t precook meals) will help you make good decisions when it comes to nutrition. If you come home from work or reach dinner time without any plans, you’re more likely to eat things that won’t help your weight loss efforts. While it can be extremely helpful to meal prep for several days, just putting some forethought into your meals can be a big help. If you manage to replace even just one or two unhealthy meals with nutritious ones, you’ve made a move in the right direction. I have these cheap meal prep containers and they help with portion-control and meal prep big-time.
Plan your workouts.
Saying things like, “I’ll workout 3 times this week,” is okay. But by not having a plan as far as the actual individual workouts, you’re probably selling yourself short. (That means less progress!) I suggest having, at the very least, a loose plan for EACH workout. I think that this is so important that I wrote an entire post about what to do if you show up to the gym without a workout plan. The idea is this: you’re more motivated and you’ll push yourself harder if you have some structure and goals for each workout. Again, small goals (and changes) add up to big things.
Keep a journal.
At least once a week, I weigh myself and write about how my weight loss or fitness goal is coming along. I’ve done this since I was 18 or 19 years old, and I love looking back through my journal to see what I’ve accomplished or what my weaknesses are/were. For some people it may not be healthy to weigh yourself every week, but I still think it’s important to reflect on your successes and failures when it comes to workouts and nutrition. When trying to lose weight, people often forget to address the mental and emotional aspects of it. Keeping a journal can help you monitor non-scale victories and be more committed to your goals. Example: Since running is a struggle for me, I like to try to beat my mile time or see how long I can run without walking. If you don’t want to write about your weight, try focusing on these types of goals. This food journal is really comprehensive!
Take frequent breaks from sitting.
Sitting for prolonged periods is bad for two big reasons: it puts a lot of stress on your back and it inhibits circulation. The result is chronic low back and cellulite. (Here are more reasons it’s bad for you.) Because I’m a blogger, I tend to get into a writing grove and want to sit for long period of time. At some point, my health got so bad that I decided I needed to quit blogging altogether. I have since been able to find a better balance, meaning that if I have to, I set a “get up and walk” timer to remind me to move. You should be moving for 5+ minutes every hour or less. Stand up, do a few squats, or just take a little walk!
Incorporate a few exercises into your everyday chores.
I’m a stay-at-home mom right now, and it can be tempting to just go about my day without any extra exercises. (In fact, it can be tempting to just sit around because I don’t have to be anywhere most days.) But because I have goals, I try to add some exercises in wherever I can. My favorite thing is to do is stop and do 5 pushups or 5 squats after every 5 clothing items I fold. I tend to have two or three loads of laundry to fold at a time, so it works well. Fold five items, do 5 reps. Simple, but it keeps my muscles moving. Do whatever works for you! You’ll burn a few extra calories and strengthen those muscles a little bit more each time.
Plan your grocery list.
Planning what you’ll buy at the grocery store can be helpful in many ways. Firstly, it can discourage you from buying things you don’t need (i.e. ice cream). Secondly, it can help you think ahead for meals. Instead of running out of certain things you may need for healthful meals and going out to eat, you can ensure a home-cooked meal. Spending a little more time and money at the grocery store can reduce your need to go back to the store frequently. Third, having a plan for what you’ll buy at the grocery store will help you get in and out more quickly, eliminating your ever-growing hunger and likelihood of making poor shopping choices. TIP: Make it even easier to make good food decisions by using grocery pickup! Choose your foods online whenever it’s convenient then pick them up!
Surround yourself with people that have like-minded goals.
Going to the gym is important to me because of the community – not just the equipment and childcare. If you don’t have friends or family members who are trying to lose weight, you can meet a lot of new people at the gym. Even if you aren’t a super social person and keep to yourself when you’re working out, you’ll find that the environment and attitude is infectious. Soak that go-getter, “kick butt” attitude in and let others motivate you.
Switch it up often.
Your body will adjust to anything you throw at it quicker than you think. If you started walking three days a week a month ago, your body is likely ready for more. You need to switch up different variables of your workouts regularly. That means that you should be changing the intensity of your workouts, their length, and the exercises you do. Try a new group fitness class, add 5 minutes to your cardio, or increase your resistance if you’re strength training. This will help your muscles grow and boost your metabolism so you avoid a plateau.
Allow yourself to indulge – occasionally.
I don’t believe in any health or fitness program that requires a strict diet. Why? Because it’s just not realistic or sustainable. It can be okay to use some sort of product or diet to kick-off your weight loss efforts, but making huge, limiting changes will make it easy for you to fall off the wagon later. In order to make lasting healthy changes, you shouldn’t be deprived. Choose one or two “anything” meals each week, and let yourself celebrate your birthday and any major holidays. Just make sure you don’t go crazy – then jump right back into your healthy eating habits after treating yourself. Biggest tip: Don’t beat yourself up if you overdo it. You can still lose weight. (Here’s what to do in the event that you overdo it.)
Find the right music.
Your brain will pick up on your music’s tempo – and help you keep a steady pace. (Read more here.) This is true for workouts, cleaning, and other things that require your energy. That’s why there are different types of music that are especially appropriate for certain types of exercise. To keep a certain running pace, choose music with around 180 beats per minute. Otherwise, choose music that is energetic and empowering and you’ll find yourself enjoying your workouts more. Here’s my go-to lifting playlist.
Roll with your anger and stress.
Some of the best workouts I’ve ever had were ones I did when I was mad. I needed to “get it out” and I was able to lift heavy and let go. But that takes some training. The key here is to be aware of your own thoughts and feelings. Instead of vegging out next time you’re angry or stressed, try releasing that all at the gym or on a run. You’ll be amazed at what you can do when you redirect that energy.
Know when to take a break.
In order to lose weight, you need to have positive associations when it comes to healthy food and exercise. You shouldn’t view either thing as a punishment. If you are tired, overworked, or getting sick, take a break from exercise. Catch your breath and take care of yourself with some R&R. There’s no need to perpetuate negative feelings about losing weight or creating healthy habits. If you show up to the gym and something is hurting or you feel depleted, go home. Pushing yourself can feel like a punishment without the right mindset or physical readiness. That’s not going to help you with your overall goals.
What other small changes do you recommend making when trying to lose weight? Tell me below!
Want to learn about how hormones may be interrupting your weight loss efforts? Read about hormone disruptors you may be exposed to here.