80 Awesome Weight Loss Tips From Leo Babauta

80 Awesome Weight Loss Tips From Leo Babauta

By Leo Babauta, Zen Habits

English: Zen Habits LogoEvery Friday is Health Tip Day at Zen Habits.

Last week I asked you all to offer up your best weight-loss tips.

And boy, did you deliver.

I’ve compiled some of your best tips into a list of ideas, below, for those looking to lose weight (and that’s probably most of us).

It’s not a step-by-step guide, and there are contradictory tips — but there are some great ones here, so pick and choose those that will work best for you and give them a try.

Note: I couldn’t include all of them, or it would have taken me 3 days to do this.

I just picked some of the best, and combined many of them.

Some tips may be slightly redundant, but I like them, so I included them.

General weight loss tips

  • Remember to keep your goals in sight to motivate yourself.
  • 5 Word Diet Plan – and the only one that works: Eat Less and Move More!
  • Doing the Zen Habits 30-day challenge to make something a habit really helps make exercise a no-brainer. The first step is getting yourself to do it, after that, the gains are much easier to make.
  • To be successful you need to change your life. You need to take control of the bad habits you have turned into an unhealthy life. You need to be excited about it too. And you have to believe that you can do it. Dreams turn into reality very quickly when you work hard.
  • Don’t try to lose weight. The number one indicator of excessive weight gain in the future is attempting to lose weight in the past. Don’t diet, it won’t last. Instead get up and go get more exercise.
  • Ultimately weight loss is about the balance between calories taken in and calories burned. Take the weight you want to be and the activity level that you maintain and calculate the number of calories that you should eat to maintain that weight. Now you have to eat fewer calories than this number, on average, over time to lose weight and achieve your target. Keep a food diary with full daily calorie calculations. Write down everything.
  • Never, never, never eat between the 3 main meals. Then eat what you want when it is time to eat.
  • Avoid processed food, or at least food where you can’t pronounce the ingredients. Keep it as natural as possible.
  • Stop watching the scale every day. If you weigh yourself, do it just once a week — as soon as you wake up, after you use the bathroom.
  • No matter how much you want a change in your life, nothing will happen until you DO something. You can talk about starting an exercise regiment and eating healthier foods all you want, but nothing will change until you START DOING IT.
  • Change your schedule, if possible. If you exercise in the afternoon but overeat while while watching TV at night, try exercising at night. Go to work earlier, come home later, schedule your walks during times you know you’re vulnerable to snacking. Switch things up to help break bad habits.
  • For people who want to lose 100+ pounds, dealing with the underlying issues of self medicating depression or anxiety is going to be a lot more effective then anything else. Feeling bad about being fat and trying to lose weight, or putting yourself in exercise situations you don’t feel comfortable in are not going to really help until the underlying issues of using food to treat boredom or anxiety or depression. After treating this underlying problem, the good habits will come without nearly so much struggle.
  • Start small. Changing your lifestyle overnight is very bad for your body and your mind. You’ll get sick of eating oatmeal 3 times a day, or grapefruit. Your life should be enjoyable and healthy!
  • Tell people around you what you’re doing. This will keep you motivated to continue. Don’t ask for their support, but say “I’m on this new thing where I’m going to kick my butt at the gym/road/bike today and” whatever.
  • Be aware of self-deception. It can sneak up on you from any angle. Examples of food deceptions: Breaded/fried chicken breast does not constitute an optimally healthy protein source, compared to simple grilled chicken breast. Potatoes do not constitute a viable vegetable source (they are a carbohydrate source).
  • Derive your self worth from something other than a number on a scale and instead gift yourself a body that will function well to serve your noble life’s goals.
  • Never give up, even after you have failed a few times. When you fail, start over. Watch those TV programs like “The Biggest Loser” or “Celebrity Fit Club”, because they are great motivators.
  • Rewards! New clothes make awesome rewards for weight loss. Going out with friends (but not for anything food related) is a great reward.
  • Weigh yourself but also take your measurements. Sometimes your scale won’t budge but your waistline will.
  • Get enough sleep – that’s the first and most important step. Without sleep, it’s harder to plan your meals, to exercise, or to consciously eat healthy.
  • Tell others your goals. Not only will you then have someone else also expecting you to perform but you’ll gain a cheering section!
  • Focus on one thing at a time. Everything we do is based on habits. If you’ve got to both get into the habit of eating great AND exercising daily, you run a big risk of getting overwhelmed when you’re not seeing results or you slip a little.
  • Find motivation other than within yourself. Workout FOR somebody else that you care about (your kids, loved ones, friends etc.). When you don’t feel like working out, remember that you’re doing it for them.
  • Focus on health and NOT weight loss. It is far more important that you live a happy, healthy life than look good naked. You’ll thank yourself when you are 80 and still lead an active life.

Healthy eating tips

  • Water water water. It kick-starts your metabolism. Stop drinking soda.
  • Make one change at a time. Don’t cut everything out at once. For example, cut out fried foods. When you’re used to that, cut out soda, etc.
  • Lay off the junk food, except for one day a week where you can eat what you like – it’ll help you stick to it and you won’t have the temptation to eat junk all the time.
  • Eat according to the Glycemic Index, sticking with low and medium index foods.
  • Be mindful of what you are eating. Keep a food journal or diary. Seeing it in writing always gives it weight and helps reveal patterns or triggers.
  • Stop the evening eating. You don’t want to eat and then go to sleep. All those calories just sit there unused while you sleep.
  • Eat mostly raw fruits, veggies and nuts.
  • Brush your teeth early in the evening rather than just before bed. It keeps you from snacking if you’re not really hungry.
  • Cut wheat-flour based products out of your diet. Wheat is surprisingly easy to replace when you start thinking about it – rice, oats (still some gluten there, but a lot less), more vegetables.
  • Portion control used with a 20 minute wait time — wait 20 minutes after eating the sensible portions, and then see if you still feel hungry. Nine times out of ten, you won’t. If you do, get a little more.
  • Cut out sugar.
  • No fast food. Period.
  • Commit to one diet — and stick to it for life. Start by making a list of low-calorie foods that you love, that you find satisfying; and when you’re hungry make sure you eat lots of those foods.
  • If you’re a parent, don’t absorb “invisible” calories by eating your kids’ food.
  • Snack between meals – starving yourself for 6 or 7 hours at a time between lunch and dinner means you will overeat at dinner.
  • Eat slow and you will only eat as much as you need to be full.
  • Whenever you eat, think about how much food you would waste by overeating. Your body doesn’t *need* all the food that’s on your plate, why waste it? You could eat the leftovers for lunch the next day and save yourself some money, or you could split it with your loved one and have company while you eat. You could give it to the homeless guy down the block who REALLY needs it. Any reason you find not to waste that food is a good one.
  • Lentils.
  • Everything in moderation. If you really want French fries and a hamburger, or ice cream, or a cookie… it’s OK to indulge a little occasionally. Key word is occasionally. Better to indulge a little, than to binge later.
  • Learn to cook, from scratch. That way, you control what you are eating.
  • Don’t buy into the idea of “diet” foods. It’s better to eat the original food that has been less processed and only eat less.
  • Observe your hunger patterns. Choose a bedtime that’s early enough to keep you from after-dinner snacking. Stick to that bed-time. If you must snack before bed, have a something small and healthful. Maybe a tiny portion of whole grain cereal with milk.
  • Eat lots of fiber, it’s surprisingly filling compared to that cupcake.
  • Eat as soon after you get up as possible. This gets your metabolism working at a higher rate sooner in the day.
  • Cut out alcohol or reduce your intake to one or two glasses a week.
  • If you are hungry between meals, try eating a small portion of food that is high in protein. It can be more effective to eat one piece of cheese or some yoghurt or nuts than to eat bread or crackers or other snack foods.
  • Go to bed early and get up early. If you stay up late, you will overeat, guaranteed. It doesn’t matter if you are a night person; change into a morning person. When you go to bed early, you don’t think about food all night.
  • Instead of counting calories, concentrate on reducing your fat intake. Fat that you eat converts more readily into body fat than does protein or carbohydrate.
  • Try to enjoy your food, eat it slowly and consciously.
  • Only diet on weekdays. Don’t binge on weekends, but save two days a week to eat the yummy things. Also, because many people really can’t break that chocolate addiction, calculate one treat every day into your calories.
  • Positive change is easier than negative change. Instead of thinking of foods that are “bad” and that you feel like you need to cut out, think about all the new recipes and foods you will get to try if you start experimenting with more vegetables, more beans, more spices, etc.
  • Don’t count calories after you each them, count before.
  • Create a routine for what you eat – for a month, do not think of food as something to be enjoyed, think of it as fuel.
  • Take one of the three meals a day, and make it healthier (veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc.). Combine this with drinking ONLY water when at work, and it’s quite the effective method to lose a few pounds.
  • Eat a varied diet. Only, half your usual portions.
  • Eat nothing that you have not bought yourself, cooked yourself, and cleaned up after. This way laziness works in your favor. If you don’t feel like going to the store, or if you have stuff but don’t feel like cooking it or cleaning up afterwards, you are less likely to eat.
  • If you’re a stress eater, try sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Lots of chewing, not many calories. Just don’t spit the seeds on the floor.
  • Reduce the intake of three white things – white flour (all purpose flour), salt and sugar. Get rid of white flour completely if possible.

Exercise tips

  • Go backpacking. Carrying a heavy pack and walking around a lot will help you shed a lot of pounds.
  • Exercise 3 times per week.
  • Exercise: any kind any time. Sure there are better times and better exercises for fat burning, but they all beat sitting on the couch.
  • Cardiovascular training in the morning before you eat breakfast. This forces your body to utilize stored body fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, since you are in a carb-depleted state after having not eaten for 8-10 hours.
  • Regular aerobic exercise helps, for a period of at least 40 minutes.
  • If you can’t run, start slow by walking for 9 minutes and jog for 1 minute. Do that a couple of times and then slowly exchange the minutes walking for minutes running.
  • Buy a pedometer and try to get 10,000 steps per day in. That’s about 5 miles +/- depending on your stride length.
  • Walk everywhere (carrying a baby while you walk also helps a lot).
  • Swim, swim, swim.
  • Find fun exercise. Join a softball team, commute to work on a bike, whatever. Your strategy should be time-sensitive – only make choices you can see yourself committing to for years, be it gym, dieting, whatever – temporary won’t work.
  • If you are resistant to exercising, consider volunteer labor. Walk dogs at the animal shelter. (Find a shelter at Petfiinder.com. Do beach or riverside clean-ups with a local environmental group. Volunteer on building and repair projects.)
  • Replace your least favorite TV show with mild calisthenics for 30 or so minutes.
  • Get an active dog! They will force you to get outside every day, and they make the best exercise companions.
  • Make friends (if you haven’t already) with very physically active people. If you have very active friends, you will be exercising without even noticing it because you will be having fun with friends.
  • Do squats while brushing the back sides of your teeth and calf rises while brushing the fronts. Then you get in at lease some exercise and also brush long enough.)
  • Take the stairs. Walk or bike ride that short distance instead of driving.
  • Use those multi-colored stars on the calendar for each day you’ve achieved your goal — exercise, diet, whatever it is. Gives you something, small as it may be, to look forward to.
  • Start walking outside to get fresh air, which translates into better mood. If rains, use treadmill. But walk fast, no sissy stuff.

Also see:

Recipe for a Flat Stomach

Recipe for a Flat Stomach

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

 

Aerobic In The City

For a long time, I wanted to lose weight. I know now that that’s a mistake. Weight is only one factor — lean muscle mass, body fat percentage, hip to waist ratio, etc. are all just as important.

After that, I wanted to get six-pack abs. That’s also a dumb goal. First of all, most people are not genetically programmed to have those kinds of abs. Second, even the supermodels and male models that have six-packs don’t have them all the time. Usually they have a little fat, and then burn it off in the weeks before a photo shoot.

So my goal now is to have a flat stomach. It really should be to get down to an acceptable body fat percentage, but I don’t have an easy way of measuring that. A flat stomach can be measured in the mirror or by my wife. I don’t need to have defined abs, but just lose some of my stomach fat and get it to be flatter. To me, that will look good, feel good, and be healthier.

I’ve done my research, and by learning what’s working so far for me, here’s the three steps to a flat stomach:

1. Cardio, cardio, cardio. Doing all the abs exercises in the world will do nothing if you have a layer of fat covering it. Doing strength training, or lifting weights, would help, but not as much as aerobic exercise. So my plan is to continue my running, and add in swimming and biking. I plan to do at least 30 minutes of cardio 6 days a week. On some days I’ll do more — 45 minutes, an hour, two hours, even more on long days. I’ll start out short for the bike and swim, like I did with running, until I build up my endurance. A quick note: interval training is also great, and I will add that in after my endurance is better. If you want to add some ab exercises in after the cardio, that’s great, but be sure to work your whole torso, not just the upper abs — that includes the lower abs, lower back and the muscles that wrap around your sides.

dont give up after just one wrap2. Less Fat and Sugar. It’s that simple. The American diet is typically filled with fat and sugar, and you’ll never get a flat stomach on that recipe. Cut out meat, if you can, and even better, cut out dairy and eggs. But if you can’t, at least eat lean meats (low-fat turkey, skinless chicken breast, lean beef, fish), and stay away from fried food and too many sugary desserts. That doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself — if you’re eating healthy, you can actually eat a lot — or deprive yourself too much, but only eat the bad stuff in moderation. Vegan diet is the best, especially if it’s balanced, rich in vegetable protein and calcium and minerals, full of fresh fruits and veggies, and high in fiber.

3. Give it Time. If you want to have a flat stomach in 3 weeks, or two months, forget it. Losing fat takes time, and it’s unhealthy to lose too much weight too fast. Aim for 1-2 lbs. a week. Gradual weight loss is healthier, and more likely to be sustained over time. Go for a lifestyle change, something you can live with for the rest of your life, or you will just yo-yo. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Some links for flat stomach reading:

About the Author

leo babauta

created zen habits

wrote focus

became minimalist

adores reading,

plus more

 

 

Recipe for a Flat Stomach

3 Steps to a Permanently Clear Desk

English: Untidy Desk

 

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

 

Once upon a time, my desk was cluttered with all the things I was currently working on — not to mention dozens of things I

wasn’t working on: notes, post-its, phone numbers, papers to be filed, stacks of stuff to work on later. I was too busy to organize it, and if I ever did get it cleared, it would pile up soon after.

It’s a different story today. These days, my desk is always clear, except for the one thing I’m working on, and perhaps a notebook and pen for jotting down notes, ideas or to-dos as they come up. It’s a liberating feeling … it calms me … it reduces stress and chaos … it definitely makes things easier to find … and it makes me more efficient and productive.

How did I make the transformation? Well, it wasn’t an easy journey, and I’ve improved over the years, but the basic steps are outlined below. The important thing to remember is that you must have a system in place, and you must teach yourself to follow the system. Otherwise, you just clean your desk, and it gets messy again.

Much of my current system (as opposed to stuff I’ve been trying along the way) is taken almost completely from “Getting Things Done,” by David Allen (via Lifehacker & 43 Folders). A must read if you haven’t yet.

Here’s the system:

1. First, take everything on your desk and in your drawers, and put them in one big pile. Put it in your “in basket” (if it doesn’t fit, pile it next to your desk or something). From now on, everything that comes in must go in your in basket, and you process everything as below.

2. Process this pile from the top down. Never re-sort, never skip a single piece of paper, never put a piece of paper back on the pile. Do what needs to be done with that paper, and then move on to the next in the pile. The options: trash it, delegate it, file it, do it, or put it on a list to do later. In that order of preference. Do it if it takes 2 minutes or less to complete. If it takes more, and you can’t trash, delegate or file it, then put it on a list of to-dos (more on your to-do list in another post).

3. Repeat at least once daily to keep desk clear. The end of the day is best, but I tend to process and tidy up as I go through the day. Once you’ve processed your pile, your desk is clear. You’ve trashed or filed or somehow put everything where it belongs (not on top of your desk or stashed in a drawer). Keep it that way. You must follow the system above: put everything in your inbox, then take action on each piece of paper in the inbox with one of the steps listed. If an item is on your to-do list, you can keep the paper associated with it in an “Action” folder. But you must regularly (daily or weekly) go through this folder to ensure that everything is purged.

It’s that simple. Have a phone number on a post-it? Don’t leave it on top of your desk. File it in your rolodex or contacts program. Have something you need to work on later? Don’t keep the papers on top of your desk. Put it on your to-do list, and file the papers in your Action folder. File or trash or delegate everything else.

Leaving stuff on top of your desk is procrastination (and as a procrastinator, I should know). If you put it off until later, things will be sure to pile up on your desk. Deal with them immediately, make a decision, take action.

What I’ve described is a good habit to learn, but it takes time to learn it. You’ll slip. Just remind yourself, and then do it. Soon it’ll be a habit you have a hard time breaking. And trust me, once you’re used to your desk being clear, you won’t want to break this habit.

Some links:

  • Happiness is a Clean Desk
  • Clean Off Your Desk Day
  • 10 tips for Keep Your Desk Clean and Tidy

See also:

 

 

 

 

Recipe for a Flat Stomach

Zen Mind: How to Declutter

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

 

A wall closet in a residential house in the Un...

One of the things that gives me most peace is have a clean, simple home. When I wake up in the morning and walk out into a living room that has been decluttered, that has a minimalist look, and there isn’t junk lying around, there is a calm and joy that enters my heart.

When, on the other hand, I walk out into a living room cluttered with toys and books and extra things all over the place, it is chaos and my mind is frenetic.

I’ve been a simplifier and a declutterer for years now (probably 8-9 years) and I’ve gotten pretty good at it, but I’ve found that you have to keep coming back to revisit your clutter every once in awhile.

Here are my top decluttering tips:

  • Do it in small chunks. Set aside just 15 minutes to declutter just one shelf, and when that shelf or that 15 minutes is up, celebrate your victory. Then tackle another shelf for 15 minutes the next day. Conquering an entire closet or room can be overwhelming, and you might put it off forever. If that’s the case, just do it in baby steps.
  • Set aside a couple hours to do it. This may seem contradictory to the above tip … and it is. It’s simply a different strategy, and I say do whatever works for you. Sometimes, for me, it’s good to set aside part of a morning, or an entire Saturday morning, to declutter a closet or room. I do it all at once, and when I’m done, it feels awesome.
  • Take everything out of a shelf or drawer at once. Whichever of the two above strategies you choose, you should focus on one drawer or shelf at a time, and empty it completely. Then clean that shelf or drawer. Then, take the pile and sort it (see next tip), and put back just what you want to keep. Then tackle the next shelf or drawer.
  • Sort through your pile, one item at a time, and make quick decisions. Have a trash bag and a give-away box handy. When you pull everything out of a shelf or drawer, sort through the pile one at a time. Pick up an item, and make a decision: trash, give away, or keep. Don’t put it back in the pile. Do this with the entire pile, and soon, you’ll be done. If you keep sorting through the pile, and re-sorting, it’ll take forever. Put back only what you want to keep, and arrange it nicely.
  • Be merciless. You may be a pack rat, but the truth is, you won’t ever use most of the junk you’ve accumulated. If you haven’t used it in the last year, get rid of it. It’s as simple as that. If you’ve only used it once or twice in the last year, but know you won’t use it in the next year, get rid of it. Toss it if it’s unsalvageable, and give it away if someone else might be able to use it.
  • Papers? Be merciless, unless it’s important. Magazines, catalogues, junk mail, bills more than a year old, notes to yourself, notes from others, old work stuff … toss it! The only exception is with tax-related stuff, which should be kept for seven years, and other important documents like warranties, birth and death and marriage certificates, insurance, wills, and other important documents like that. But you’ll know those when you see ‘em. Otherwise, toss!!!!
  • If you are on the fence with a lot of things, create a “maybe” box. If you can’t bear to toss something because you might need it later, put it in the box, then close the box, label it, and put it in storage (garage, attic, closet), out of sight. Most likely, you’ll never open that box again. If that’s the case, pull it out after six months or a year, and toss it or give it away.
  • Create a system to stop clutter from accumulating. There’s a reason you have tall stacks of papers all over the place, and big piles of toys and books and clothes. It’s because you don’t have a regular system to keep things in their place, and get rid of stuff you don’t need. This is a topic for another day, but it’s something to think about as you declutter. You’ll never get to perfect, but if you think more intelligently about how your house got cluttered, perhaps you can find ways to stop it from happening again.
  • Celebrate when you’re done! This is actually a general rule in life: always celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Even if you just decluttered one drawer, that’s great. Treat yourself to something delicious. Open that drawer (or closet, or whatever), and admire its simplicity. Breathe deeply and know that you have done a good thing. Bask in your peacefulness.

Other posts about decluttering elsewhere:

See also:

About the Author

leo babauta

created zen habits

wrote focus

became minimalist

adores reading,

plus more

 

 

Recipe for a Flat Stomach

A Time for Gratitude

By Leo Babauta. (Follow me on Twitter.)

The holidays are a time of celebration for many — good food, lots of parties, gift-giving, family and friends — but they can also be a time of mass consumption and hyper-consumerism.

I think with all the stresses of this season, and the expectations of our society, we often feel that we must give expensive gifts and throw lavish parties and cook up incredible amounts of food and drink — let’s admit it — what can only be called an unhealthy amount of alcohol. (more…)

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