We all can fall into unhealthy habits and unfortunately these keep us lazy, overweight, and not at our best selves.
The good news is that just small hacks to your daily routine can make a huge long-term difference.
Here's 15 that I've discovered over the years that have helped me be healthier and in the best shape of my life.
Give Sugary Drinks the Chop
One of the easiest things you can do, as well as one that will drastically reduce your daily calorie intake, is to give up sugary beverages this year.
Drinking calories is never a great idea because of the rate at which drinks can be consumed, the quality of calories they usually contain, and the level of satiety they deliver.
- A 20 floz Coke = 239 calories
- A Grande Starbucks Caramel Brulée Latte = 440 calories
- A large McDonald's Sweet Tea = 220 Calories
Switch to water or sparkling water instead. It will be hard at first, but after a couple weeks you'll prefer water.
I'm not saying to never enjoy a Coke as a treat, but just hack them out of your daily diet.
By the way, diet sodas aren't the answer. Research shows that diet soda drinkers are just as heavy if not heavier than regular soda drinkers.
Ease Up on the Alcohol
Along the same lines as above, hacking the way you drink alcohol can have a profound impact on your health and weight. Alcoholic drinks not only contain a lot of calories but they also impair your liver's ability to process fat.
If you are a beer or wine every night kind of girl or guy, it really could be a big factor as to why you aren't making the fitness or weight loss progress you think you should be making.
Pick just one or two nights out of the week to enjoy a couple alcoholic beverages instead.
Take the Stairs
We have invented some clever devices to avoid using stairs and unfortunately they also contribute to making us more sedentary.
Use the stairs whenever possible.
At work, at the mall, or even as part your fitness routine, stairs are a great way to strengthen your muscles, burn fat, and give you a nice tushie!
Just 2 minutes spent going up stairs burns 25 calories ( 170 pound male). Taking the elevator burns zero. Over the course of a day this can really add up!
Park in the Outer Realm
My partner always wants to park close to where ever we are going and often spends at least 10 minutes driving around hunting for spots.
I on the other hand, grab the first spot I see even if it is at the end of the lot or 6 blocks away.
Here's why parking far away is better.
- You can burn more calories by walking more.
- You save gas by not driving around in stop and go traffic.
- You prevent your car from getting dinged as there are less cars at the end of the lot.
Break Your Bread Dependance
I love bread, but it is so calorie dense and adds a lot of extra calories most of us don't really need. I now have bread occasionally, but it isn't part of my daily diet.
Cutting out the bread is an easy hack that can save a whole meal's worth of calories throughout the day.
2 slices of bread at breakfast and 2 at lunch are about 313 calories, plus bread is usually consumed with butter and/or a condiment like jam or mayo. This adds even more.
Ditch the Daily Desserts
I have a big sweet tooth and until my early 30's I always felt the need to have a small dessert after lunch and after dinner. This added a lot of extra empty calories to my diet and was keeping me from achieving my fitness goals.
When I quit this habit, I saw drastic improvement in lowering my body fat percentage.
I now still enjoy some sweet treats on the weekends but no longer is it daily.
If you have a sweet tooth try eating some fruit instead of that candy bar, granola bar, or cookie. It satisfies your sweet tooth, yet provides fiber and far better nutrition.
Change Your Coffee Preference
If you need caffeine to start your day, hacking the way you drink it can make a big difference over time.
Once we start adding stuff to coffee and tea we take a drink that is relatively calorie-free and turn it into a calorie laden beverage.
Learn to drink your coffee or tea black or with a little sugar-free almond milk. Lighter roasts are easier to drink black and cold brewing coffee produces an even smoother cup of joe.
Eat Your Veggies!
I created a whole article about clever ways to eat more vegetables and I challenge you to double your vegetable consumption this year.
Eating a lot of vegetables will not only help you to slim down but will promote better overall health. I try to eat a several large servings with each meal.
Quit Skipping Breakfast
It can be easy to skip breakfast or grab something small as you rush out of the door for work, however, this can be counter productive to your fitness goals and even your work productivity.
Starting the day off with a nutritious breakfast, gives you energy, fuels your brain, helps you be more productive, and prevents bingeing on a high-calorie lunch.
Your breakfast should contain some protein, some healthy fat, and some carbs. I recommend eggs with sauteed veggies. This meal keeps you satisfied, is highly nutritious, and can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer.
Join a Club
Switch up your life by joining a common interest club this year. There are clubs for just about everything and they help you to cultivate your talents, meet other people, and often burn calories.
- Hiking clubs
- Dodge ball groups
- Swimming clubs
- Community service organizations
- Indoor soccer
And many other groups can be great ways to get out of the house, watch less TV, and be more active. Check out MeetUp.com for groups in your area, or use it to start your own.
Hack Your Lunch Break
Hmmm. Sit at your desk and check Facebook, stand in line and eat bad fast food, or exercise during your lunch break?
Using your lunch break to get in some fitness can make a huge difference in how quickly you reach your goals. Start out a couple days a week walking around the block or climbing stairs at your office. Eat some fruit, nuts, or a Lara Bar while you are exercising or right after.
Climbing stairs for 30 minutes burns over 360 calories!
Renounce Restrictive Diets
Thinking of starting the year with a lemonade diet or a cabbage soup diet? Think again. Restrictive, very low calorie diets do not work long-term and foster unhealthy eating patterns.
This time try the flexible diet. It is designed to avoid deprivation, promote slow steady weight loss, and to easily be carried out for the long-term.
Get Off Your Bum
Another easy life hack that can make a big difference is reducing the amount of sitting you do each day.
Consider a standing work station or at least sitting on an exercise ball instead.
A 170 pound male would burn an extra 200 calories by standing at work for 5 hours as opposed to sitting at his desk.
Wake With Water
Start your day off with a big glass of water as soon as you wake up. This rehydrates your body, wakes you up, and helps flush out toxins that built up over night as the result of your body's repair processes.
Also make sure you are drinking enough pure water throughout the day. Cutting out soda as suggested above will really help with this hack too.
Make Your TV Room a Snack-Free Zone
Snacking while watching television in the evening is perhaps the easiest way to sabotage your healthy eating and fitness efforts.
This creates mindless eating, where we have no idea how many calories or how much we are consuming. Also these snacks tend to be unhealthy anyway.
How to stop:
- Skip the chip/ cracker/ candy isles at your grocery store.
- Eat dinner later in the evening.
- Try controlled snacks instead, like 2 squares of dark chocolate, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or a handful of cashews. Eat this before you sit down to watch.
By implementing just a few of the healthy hacks above, you can be well on your way to better reaching your health and fitness goals. Small changes over time make a big difference and have the best chance of becoming life-long healthy habits.
Written by Ted Kallmyer for Healthy Eater and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.