Eat this. Don’t eat that. Do this. Don’t do that. When you’re looking to jumpstart weight loss, sifting through online advice and narrowing a plan of attack down to several actionable steps can be the hardest part. This is especially true for those who lead busy lives. You have work, family and other obligations to worry about. A major life overhaul just isn’t in the cards.
To make it easy, we offer three simple tweaks you can make for the next 30 days to help you start your weight-loss journey.
While making several changes to your lifestyle all at once may sound overwhelming, research shows that shifting diet and exercise habits at the same time can lead to better results. One study conducted at Stanford University compared four groups of people: One that changed diet and exercise simultaneously, one that started with diet and then worked on changing exercise habits a few months later, another that changed exercise habits and then diet, and a fourth group, which was schooled in stress-management techniques with no advice on diet or exercise.
At the 12-month mark, it turned out that those who changed things about their diet and exercise at the same time had a greater likelihood of success when it came to meeting the government’s physical activity guidelines (150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity) and eating 5–9 servings of fruits and veggies a day (with saturated fat comprising less than 10% of daily calorie intake).
With that said, trying to take on too many changes at once can derail your success. Commit to the following three habits for the next 30 days to get the ball rolling on weight loss without majorly interrupting your daily life.
1. Log your intake.
It turns out that the “written word” can be powerful when it comes to shedding pounds. In a study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that people who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t track anything. Another study conducted by researchers in California revealed that people who wrote/logged their goals were significantly more likely to achieve them than those who didn’t. These studies hint at the fact that tracking things can help you reflect on your actions, both healthy and unhealthy.
2. Cut out soda.
It’s no secret that soda isn’t a great drink option if you’re looking to adopt healthier habits. Studies have long demonstrated a significant link between sugary drinks and weight gain. In fact, recent research discovered that even diet soda leads to weight gain, particularly abdominal fat. To be sure, the recent San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging found that over the long term, people who drank two or more diet sodas a day had their waist circumferences increase a whopping 500% more than those who didn’t drink diet soda.
Long story short: Consuming soda and other sugary drinks in any form has the potential to sabotage your weight-loss goals. Reducing or eliminating it from your diet has the potential to impact your weight significantly.
3. Strength train.
While we often think that cardiovascular exercise is the key to weight loss, it turns out that strength training might be just as important. A study published this year by researchers at Harvard University found that participants who committed to 20 minutes of strength training a day experienced a smaller increase in age-related abdominal fat than another group of participants who did 20 minutes of daily aerobic exercise. While doing both weight training and aerobic exercise on a regular basis is ideal, this study points to the fact that strength work alone can have a major influence on your waistline.
What’s more, you can’t beat the simplicity of strength or resistance training. It can be done at home in a small space with limited equipment. Even bodyweight moves, like planks and push-ups can aid weight loss. While committing to daily strength training is a lofty goal, consider adding it into your routine 2–3 days a week to help prompt the loss of belly fat.