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General

50 Habits of Naturally Thin People

This article was written by Cynthia Dermody for Reader’s Digest Canada.

How to Get Started

Decide how much you want to lose and see how manycalories a day it will take to make it happen by year’s end. Then, work into your routines however many of these eating tweaks and exercises (it’s important to do both) you need to achieve your goal:

• Slash a total of 100 calories each day to lose about 10 pounds in a year.

• Slash 250 calories a day to lose about 25 pounds.

• Slash 500 calories a day to lose about 50 pounds.

These numbers are based on a 150-pound person; you may need to cut more or fewer calories, depending on your weight, age and gender. It also assumes your normal calorie intake is consistent (i.e., you’re not overeating today, running a marathon tomorrow) and your weight is stable. For instance, a 140-pound woman eats about 2,100 calories a day to maintain her weight; a 210-pound man needs 3,150 daily to keep the scale steady. Now read on and start losing!

Morning Makeover

Wake-up Workout

When your eyes open, sit up slowly without using your hands. With legs straight out, lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your back and hamstrings. Hold, then, using your abs, lower yourself flat. Rest and repeat two more times. This quick exercise strengthens your core.
Calories Burned: 10
Go for the Grains

Not ready for Twigs & Rocks cereal? Sprinkle on a few tablespoons of wheat germ or oat bran. Work up to 3/4 cup of low-sugar, whole-grain cereal with at least three grams of fiber per serving, and you’ll soon be able to pass on that Danish.
Calories Saved: 100
Add Some Protein

The more you eat earlier on, the less you eat as the day wears on. So after your cereal, add a hard-boiled egg or a part-skim mozzarella cheese stick to keep you feeling full—and away from that pre-lunch brownie.
Calories Saved: 200 (or more)
Balance Booster

While you brush your teeth, alternate standing on one leg as you switch mouth quadrants (every 30 seconds). Balancing develops your core muscles and may even be good for your brain.
Calories Burned: 10
Be a Ballerina

As your coffee drips, stand sideways, put one hand on the counter, and lift the outside leg straight out in front of you, keeping it extended. With upper body straight, hold for a few seconds, then move your leg to the side; hold, then extend it behind you. Repeat five to ten times on each leg. Tones outer thighs, hip flexors and quadriceps.
Calories Burned: 10
Coffee Saver

Instead of pouring that 1⁄3 cup of half-and-half (a whopping 105 calories!) into your mug, replace it with the same amount of 2 percent milk.
Calories Saved: 60
Better Your Bagel

You can walk 10,000 steps to justify your 500-calorie bagel with cream cheese, or try this: low-fat spreadable cheese like Laughing Cow Light on an English muffin.
Calories Saved: 300

 

Nine-to-Five Fixes

Tone in Traffic

Use the time spent bumper-to-bumper to develop buns of steel: Squeeze your derrière each time you tap thebrake, holding for ten seconds. Shoot for ten to 15 squeezes a trip.
Calories Burned: 10
Snack Smarter

Portion out the day’s snacks into small zip bags, or buy single-serving portions. For example, four regular Oreos have 200 calories versus the 100-calorie snack bag version. Go for the lower fat chips: a bag of Lay’s Light has only 75 calories, while the regular bag has 150.
Calories Saved: 175 (over two snacks)
Casual Day Payoff

You will blast more calories during the day wearing comfy clothes like jeans or khakis, sport shirts and soft-soled shoes than donning constricting suits, skirts and heels. Why? Because you walk more, a study found. Now you just have to convince the boss.
Calories Burned: 25
You Know, Squat!

At your desk chair, pretend you’re going to sit but don’t—stop and come back up without using your arms. Always start squats by lowering your hips, not bending knees forward, and keeping your weight on your heels. Repeat the motion throughout the day (even at the potty!) for a total of 15 to 20 reps to strengthen your quadriceps.
Calories Burned: 15
Switch Your Soda

Your body doesn’t register calories from liquids the same way it does those from foods, so you won’t get those “stop eating” signals to help you compensate for the overload later on. Change from two glasses of regular soda or fruit juice to diet soda or a flavoured seltzer.
Calories Saved: 300
Talk it UP

Every time you grab the phone, stand up and pace around. Heavy people sit on average two and a half hours more per day than thin people, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Calories Burned: 50 or more
At Lunch, Pick a Pita

Use one mini whole-wheat pita instead of the usual two slices of white or refined wheat bread for your sandwich.
Calories Saved: 70
Get Face Time

We use e-mail so much we’ve forgotten what our co-workers look like. Pick a colleague or two who sit farthest from you and deliver messages in person. And go out of your way: Hit a bathroom or a copier on another floor—and take the stairs, of course.
Calories Burned: 100
Firm as You File

Pause from paper pushing with a few wall push-ups. Place hands wide at shoulder height against the wall. Take a couple of steps back so your body is at a slight angle and your weight is on your toes, and do three sets of ten push-ups. This exercise will strengthen your chest and triceps.
Calories Burned: 10
An Apple (or more) a Day

They’re packed with fibre and water, so your stomach will want less. Plus, studies out of Washington State and Brazil have shown that people who eat at least three apples or pears a day lose weight. Try snacking on two small apples instead of two large cookies.
Calories Saved: 100
Try a Simple Chair Routine

Dips: If your chair has wheels, brace it against something. Facing forward, place palms on the front edge of the seat with knees bent at a right angle. Lower butt toward the floor; raise and repeat for two sets of ten to tone your triceps.
Calories Burned: 10

Lifts: Seated in a chair with your back straight and your feet on the floor, squeeze your knees together and gently bring them towards your chest. Do two sets of ten for toned abs.
Calories Burned: 10

 

Around Town

Carry Some Weight

When you’re grocery shopping or running errands, wear a backpack with a five- or ten-pound bag of sugar inside to increase resistance and burn more calories. Add purchases to your load as it becomes easier.
Calories Burned: 20 (for an hour of errands)
Tweak Your Treat

Instead of a large latte and a chocolate cream-cheese muffin, get a small non-fat latte and a small low-fat raisin or carrot muffin.
Calories Saved: 340
Pump at the Pump

Instead of fuming over gas prices, think about firming your calves: With one hand on your car, stand on the balls of your feet and slowly rise up and down for as long as it takes your tank to fill—for an SUV that might be 50 raises!
Calories Burned: 10
Do the Pizza Pat

Blot your slice with a napkin to cut anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of grease—and calories.
Calories Saved: 50-100
Shop ‘Til the Pounds Drop

At the mall, try on at least ten outfits, both pants and shirts. No need to buy!
Calories Burned: 60
Eat Like a Kid

You don’t have to give up that quick lunch if you order smaller portions: Instead of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and large fries, opt for the a Happy Meal. You can even play with the toy.
Calories Saved: 390
Recharge Yourself

Anytime you’re waiting in line, stand evenly on both feet, clasp your hands behind your back, and squeeze your shoulder blades together to open your chest. This is an energizing yoga-based move that stimulates the nervous system. Hold it for ten to 20 seconds while slowly breathing in and out, taking longer on the inhale.
Calories Burned: 5

 

On the Home Front

Jog for Junk Mail

Turn clutter into a challenge: For every piece of junk mail you pull from the mailbox each day, do one lap around your house or building, or up and down a flight of stairs.
Calories Burned: 35-140
Use Better Butter

No, you don’t have to give up the real deal. Instead of a tablespoon of stick butter, use a tablespoon of whipped and cut half the calories.
Calories Saved: 30
Step On It

Before you lug those backpacks upstairs, stop and stand on the bottom step for a quick calf toner. Hold the banister with one hand, bend your right leg and place the toes of your left foot on the edge of the step. Let your heel drop down, press into the ball of your left foot and rise to your toes. Pause, and repeat with each foot for eight to 12 reps.
Calories Burned: 10
Start With Soup

Order a clear soup instead of a salad soaked with two tablespoons of full-fat ranch and you can save twice the calories. Plus you’ll feel fuller, so you’ll eat less when the entrée comes.
Calories Saved: 100
Play Footsies

After dinner, while you’re still sitting at the table, extend your right leg out and slowly bend it up and down, squeezing and holding in the up position for at least five seconds. Repeat for each leg five times to sculpts your quadriceps.
Calories Burned: 10
Make Perfect Pasta

Substitute whole-grain pasta for semolina and you’ll be satisfied with a smaller portion (11/2 ounces instead of two).
Calories Saved: 50
Climb Up!

Taking the stairs for a total of just two minutes, five days a week, gives you the same calorie-burning results as a 20-minute walk.
Calories Burned: 100-140
Fill Up On Fruit

Like pie? Here’s how you can cave to the craving: Sprinkle fresh fruit—cut-up apple, pear or a handful of cherries—with some sugar substitutel, cover and nuke for a minute or so, and it will taste just like pie filling.
Calories Saved: 275
Have Your Cake

Pick up an angel food cake for dessert. It’s packed with air and has less than half the calories of, say, pound cake.
Calories Saved: 70
Ease Into Evening

Sitting with your feet uncrossed, grab your wrist and raise your hands above your head to lengthen the spine. Take a deep breath in as you reach and hold the position, breathing slowly in and out for 20 seconds, taking longer to exhale to get instant relaxation.
Calories Burned: 5
Get Your Chocolate Fix

Instead of a candy bar, try a sugar-free, reduced-calorie chocolate pudding snack with a squirt of non-fat whipped cream topping. Eat it with a baby spoon to savour it longer.
Calories Saved: 185
Crunch for Your Clicker

The average half-hour TV show has eight minutes of commercials. Make reaching for the remote worth it: Place it out of reach on the coffee table or, if you’re lying down, on the opposite arm of the couch. Every time an ad comes on and you reach for the remote, crunch until the show comes back on; you should reach 100 to 150. Tones abs.
Calories Burned: 24
Lift Those Hips

Before you tuck yourself in, lie on your back on the floor with your legs up on the edge of the bed or a chair. Slowly bend your knees, lifting your hips off the floor. Hold for five seconds; relax and repeat ten to 12 times for firm hamstrings and core.
Calories Burned: 10

 

The Weekend

Sing a Song

Spend Sunday morning belting it out in the church choir.

Calories Burned: 70 per service
Make It Bacon

At the diner, order three slices of crisp bacon instead of two sausage links, and pat off the extra grease.
Calories Saved: 90
Move It, Soccer Parents!

After every quarter, get up from the bleachers and take a lap around the gym or field. Four or five laps is about a mile.
Calories Burned: 75
Movie Time

Most people eat 45 per cent more popcorn from large-size containers, so make sure you get only a small and skip the butter, which adds more calories than the popcorn itself. Bring your own seasoned salt or Parmesan cheese for more flavour.
Calories Saved: 350
Orient Yourself

At Chinese restaurants, be sure to avoid anything named General Tao or Crispy, which means fried. Eat only the filling of the egg roll and not the shell.
Calories Saved: 400-500
Catch This!

Spend a half-hour tossing a ball or Frisbee with your kid.
Calories Burned: 90
Cut the Cheese

Order your pizza with half the cheese or even cheese-less, and then sprinkle on a few tablespoons of Parmesan.

Calories Saved: 100


Have a Hot-Dog!

Pile on the pickles, onions and sauerkraut—these fibre-packed condiments will fill you up and prevent you from eating a second dog. Skip the cheese and chili.
Calories Saved: 250
Think About Your Drink

Consider beer or wine instead of a frozen drink: A glass of regular beer has 140 calories and a serving of wine has 126; a strawberry daiquiri has about 300, and a margarita, 340.
Calories Saved: 150-200
Fix Your Fries

Rather than asking for medium fries, get an order of onion rings.
Calories Saved: 60
Scream for Sorbet

Indulge in chocolate sorbet instead of chocolate ice cream.
Calories Saved: 125
Just Do It!

Instead of a bowl of ice cream as a bedtime snack, have a robust tussle with your spouse.
Calories Burned: 300

This article was written by Cynthia Dermody for Reader’s Digest Canada.

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