Get with the season. Move outdoors to burn the calories consumed indoors. A 150-pound person who pulls weeds, plants a garden, mows the lawn, or rakes leaves would expend anywhere from 111 calories (raking) to about 145 calories (weeding or planting seeds) to a whopping 225 calories (mowing) for each half hour spent doing these outside chores. Cancel the lawn service
--- it'll do your waist good.
Wash the car weekly. If you don't own a car, wash anything thoroughly in your home once a week
--- a floor, a couple of windows, the shower stall or bathroom tile. Cleanliness is not only next to godliness, but it can also be a way to balance a sweet tooth. A 150-pound person who sports rubber gloves and
exerts some elbow grease will burn about four calories for every minute spent cleaning. Scrub for 30 minutes and you could work off approximately 120 calories, the same number in a half-cup of vanilla frozen yogurt. If you want to top your yogurt off with a teaspoon of chocolate sprinkles, scrub-a-dub another five minutes.
Crank up a new CD. Buy a new CD for your headset to help you groove when you move. If a brisk walk feels anything but brisk and lively, pick up the pace by obtaining a variety of upbeat music. Walk miles with Alice Deejay's "Who Needs Guitars Anyway?", Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time", or a composite CD such as "Totally Hits I." Reward yourself with a new CD after every 15 or so outings. Stock up on batteries
--- or invest in the rechargeable kind --- so your CD player won't run out of juice before you do.
Buy a book-on-tape. Forget cozying up to a good book --- instead, plug in a good book-on-tape and move as you read. Get lost (in thought, that is) on the walking path by listening to light-hearted, humorous prose by Dave Barry or scare yourself into a faster aerobic pace by listening to the king of horror, Stephen King. If you listen to all four of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, you'll be able to walk to China. Other favorite books-on-tape authors are: Scott Adams, Robin Cook, Patricia Cornwall, Ken Follett, and Michael
Walk while you talk. When you are talking on the cordless phone, get up and walk around the office or house for at least a minute of each call. Whether you've a job in telephone sales, or you're a chatterbox with a multitude of family and friends, you could be working out while you're working the phone. Consider this: A person burns about three times as many calories walking around as compared to sitting around.
Deliver messages by hand. Send fewer interoffice emails daily. Hand deliver messages instead. While we are all geared into saving time, moving our mouse more often than our feet will, unfortunately, also reduce the amount of calories burned. Make a habit of getting up and delivering a couple of messages every day to fellow employees who sit the farthest away from your cubicle. The more you move, the more you will stand to lose.
Take the long way. Walk around the block to get next door. Use the long way to get to your destination at least once during the day. Incorporate some movement into your day by frequenting the restrooms on another floor of your office building and parking the car at the space farthest from the building. (Note: Do this only if it's in a safe area.) Consider any elevator or escalator that you encounter "out of order" and climb the stairs instead... for the rest of your life.
Have an active outing. Make one social outing this week an active one. Give the movie date a hike and trek through the park instead. You will not only be sitting less but saving calories by not chowing down on that bucket of popcorn. Other active date ideas: Plan a tennis match; sign up for a guided nature or city walk (check your local newspaper); don the protective helmet and go cycling on a bike path; or join a volleyball, softball, or bowling team.
Turn off the tube. Turn off the television an hour earlier one day this week. You're not going to get a much more sedentary, low-calorie-burning activity than limply sitting in front of the TV. A 150-pound couch potato will use up less than 1.5 calories a minute sitting. (Although if you were sitting watching the NBA playoffs, your TV viewing may become a little more antsy and calorie-burning.) Any other activity that you can substitute for sitting would likely be a better bet. But here's the real bonus: With the TV off an hour sooner, that's one less hour of network noshing that you would be tempted to do. Now, that could save you a bundle of calories.
Exercise with your family. Make exercise a family affair. Family time at a premium? Work out with the kids for quality time that does double duty. While adults should rack up at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activities on most days, the kiddies should be shooting for 60 minutes. Everyone in the household would benefit with a game of backyard soccer, baseball, or tag. Shoot hoops, roller blade (don't forget the protective gear), bike around the neighborhood, skip rope, dive in a pool, or build a snowperson. Don't have kids? Bring out the kid in you by enjoying some of these fun, childhood memories.
Grab some breakfast. If you normally skip breakfast, eat breakfast once this week. Here's why: Studies have shown that eating breakfast may not only contribute to a lower fat, healthier diet, but can provide as much as 28 percent of Americans' daily intakes of vitamins and minerals. Eating breakfast has also been shown to help minimize impulsive, unplanned snacking during the day. Too rushed to eat breakfast? Rise and shine to a quick bowl of a nutritious whole grain cereal, skim milk, and fruit
--- or if you are eating on the run, reach for a container of yogurt, a small whole-grain bagel, and a piece of fruit.
Shop smartly. Food shop with a full stomach and a grocery list. Walking around aimlessly in the grocery store with your tummy growling can make you vulnerable to buying anything that isn't moving. Shop only after you have eaten a meal, when the temptation to eat is deadened, and make sure that you go to the store armed with a list to help keep your purchases on target. Organizing your shopping list by the store aisles will also have you out of the supermarket at the speed of light. If you are female, you may want to enlist a male to do the food shopping for you. The latest survey from the Food Marketing Institute shows that compared to women, men are more likely to buy only what's on the grocery list.
Hide the serving bowls. Dish out dinner directly onto your plate. Covering the dinner table with serving bowls of food can tempt you to dish out unnecessary, additional helpings. Taking seconds of everything will add up to a second round of calories. Try this trick instead: Immediately put any meal fixings or leftovers in the refrigerator or cupboard before you sit down to eat. Out of sight, out of mind
--- and more importantly, out of your mouth. This will also help eliminate the nibbling of leftovers that may go on when you are assigned to post-dinner clean-up.
Walk off anxiety. When life is a pressure cooker, release some of that emotional steam on the walking path. A feel-good, mood altering substance in the body, also known as endorphin, has been shown to increase during exercise, potentially playing a soothing role in reducing anxiety, tension, and anger. When you feel wound up, lace up those walking sneakers.
Put your fork down. Slow down your eating by setting your fork down between mouthfuls. Since it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send "I'm full" messages to your brain, speed-eating can lead to overeating. So this week: Try the "fork-lift, fork-rest" exercise at supper.
Measure your portions once a week. Eyeballing your serving sizes without a routine re-check can have you experiencing "portion inflation." Reign in your portions by doing a measuring re-check on Fridays, strategically before the weekend, when serving sizes may lax as you relax. Keep your serving of meat at both lunch and dinner to about three ounces each, the size of a woman's palm. Bagels and muffins should fit into a lady's palm, without eclipsing the entire hand. A cup of cooked rice, pasta, or veggies is about the size of a female's fist.
Declare a Vending-Machine-Free Day. A bag of pretzels here, a pouch of animal crackers there --- it all adds up. To motivate you to stay clear of the vending machines, place a see-through jar on your desk and deposit those quarters that the vending machine would have typically gobbled up during the day. At the end of the month, gather up your loot and buy a lovely plant for your office or home. The money growing in the jar is a constant reminder of your awesome efforts and a powerful visual motivator to help keep you on track. If you keep this up, your surroundings will look like a jungle by year's end.
Get your ZZZ's. Go to sleep a half-hour earlier one day this week. Adults need somewhere in the neighborhood of seven to eight hours sleep nightly (some may need more, some less). Adequate sleep is important to keep our nervous system in perky condition. Depriving yourself of rejuvenating slumber can feed into impaired memory and physical performance and, if continued, even mood swings. Hit the hay earlier so that you start each day refreshed and better motivated to eat right and exercise.
Stop munching mindlessly. Replace boredom eating with productive movement. Let's face it: If we ate only when we were hungry, we would probably be a heck of a lot leaner. Munching solely for entertainment purposes is going to anchor your weight on the bathroom scale for the rest of your life. A better bet: Make a "To Do" list of activities to fill the void at both work and home. When the workday hits a lull, tackle the office filing, delete your old email, clean out the desk drawers, or re-organize your desk top. At home, clean closets, organize photo albums, rearrange rooms, or plan your next vacation to keep you out of the kitchen.
Eat before you drink. Talk to the waitstaff before you talk to the wine steward. About 20 percent of the alcohol that you drink is absorbed in the stomach and can reach the brain almost immediately, especially if you're sipping on an empty stomach. If you find that booze causes you to put your willpower on the rocks, don't imbibe until you place your order and begin eating your meal. A full tummy can help slow down the absorption of the firewater and delay your good judgment from becoming narcotized. If you are solo, consider ordering wine by the glass; or if it's dinner for two, uncork a half-bottle to keep to a more reasonable amount. As always, women should drink no more than one alcoholic beverage daily, whereas men should keep to no more than two daily.
Stop before you're stuffed. At least once this week, challenge yourself to avoid having to adjust your waistband because you didn't adjust your intake. To make it easier to push away from the table, plan to enjoy this food again as leftovers the next day. This will help eliminate "The Last Supper" mentality, or the propensity to overeat, fearing that it will be the last time you will have an opportunity to enjoy this food anytime soon.
Keep out of the kitchen. Don't eat after dinner at least once this week. Nonstop nighttime nibbling can have you noshing your way into the caloric equivalent of a fourth meal. Once the dinner dishes are done, declare the kitchen "closed for the evening" by shutting off the light and not entering again until dawn. If you are truly hungry, allow yourself only a small snack such as a piece of fruit, tossed salad, or a yogurt.
Chart your success. Focus on changing one behavior at a time, such as drinking more water or exercising daily. Post a chart on the front of the refrigerator that tallies your daily behavioral change efforts. This will be a pleasant reminder of your awesome success each time you trek through the kitchen. At week's end, add up your successes and reward yourself with flowers, bubble bath, scented candles, or a massage for all your hard work. Once a habit has been licked, move on to another one.
Celebrate without food. The next time you get a raise, pass that gosh-awful college or graduate course, or get that long-awaited promotion, celebrate without a plate. Replace the traditional celebratory restaurant dinner or drinks at a bar with no-calorie rewards such as a new outfit, a dazzling piece of jewelry, or the latest best-seller. Non-food gifts will be a better long term reminder of all your hard
Find life outside the kitchen. When the good times aren't exactly rolling, many of us unfortunately look to the cupboards for comfort. Eating yourself to emotional oblivion will cause you to end up with two problems: the original one that you started with, and the new one of having to deal with the excess calories from the large bag of chips you just inhaled. Instead, create a list of supportive outlets to use when life gets you down and post it in a visible place. In addition to calling a friend or counselor, consider volunteering at a local shelter, hospital, or school. Sometimes one of the best ways to lift your spirits is to lift someone else's.
Rein in your snacking. If you tend to eat constantly throughout the day, choose one day when you eat only three meals and two planned snacks. For a real eye-opener, keep a log of foods that you eat for one day and add up the between-meal calories. You'll be shocked at how quickly mindless grazing throughout your day can deceivingly rack up a fair number of empty calories. Plan your meals and snacks the day before and stick with your plan.