It's a well-known fact (supported by myriad sources, including Fitness Magazine) that in order to lose a pound, you need to cut and/or burn 3,500 calories... which, divided by the number of days in the week, equals 500 calories a day.
So, if you cut or burn 500 calories per day every day of the week, you will lose a pound a week. However, for most, that's easier said than done.
The simplest and least frustrating way to do this is through a combination of exercise and lowering your calorie intake; just a small change to your routine on a daily basis can yield results. And while a pound a week may not sound like a lot at first, just keep going—you'll make solid progress and create better eating habits for yourself, which will ensure that you don't gain the weight back quickly (or at all).
I'll be focusing on easy everyday activities, courtesy of Physician's Plan, that burn 100 calories; this activity, paired with ways to cut your daily calorie intake by 400 calories, will create a total loss of 500 calories from your diet—and that magical number of 3,500 calories per week.
Exercise: Walk briskly for 15 minutes. You can do this in your neighborhood, at the mall, or even around the track at a local school. If the weather isn't conducive to a fresh-air walk, hit the treadmill.
Calorie Cut: Use a smaller plate. According to Health Magazine, switching from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate at meal times can cut as much as 22% of the calories you would normally consume. So if your daily calorie intake was originally around 1,800 calories, it would now be about 1,400. And your smaller plate will be likely be stacked higher, which will trick your brain into thinking you're eating just as much!
Exercise: Hit the grocery store. No, this doesn't mean a casual stroll around the supermarket; it means you have to wheel your cart or carry your basket around the aisles at a pretty good clip. But if you do so for about 10 minutes (about as long as it would take to scope out the bargains), you can burn over 100 calories.
Calorie Cut: Break your breakfast routine. According to Prevention Magazine, if you eat a bowl of high-fiber cereal with some raspberries and 8 oz. of skim milk instead of a bagel, you can cut 400 calories out of your daily intake.
(Don't toss that bagel in the trash just yet though—you can still use them in ways apart from breakfast.)
Exercise: Kiss. Yup, just kissing for 20 minutes can burn about 100 calories... and no, this doesn't mean smooching your pet or kissing your friends on the cheek. We're talking about the hot-and-heavy that leads to Netflix and chill. If you do "get lucky," so to speak, you'll lose an additional 100 calories in just one session (on average)... as if you needed any more incentive to go above and beyond!
Calorie Cut: Switch up your drink. It's possible that alcohol led to the aforementioned exercise, let's be honest. But you don't need to pack on the calories with sweet, frou-frou drinks like margaritas, mai tais, and daiquiris. You can heighten the desire, lessen your inhibitions, and excise around 400 calories by trading in these cloyingly sweet cocktails with 2 drinks—either on the rocks or with a splash of soda.
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Exercise: Clean house. C'mon, you know you've needed to do this, anyway. A mere 20 minutes of power cleaning (no lazy dusting—sorry) can burn about 100 calories. So get out that vacuum or mop, and get those floors looking like you don't have a dog, two cats, a toddler, and a husband who thinks you didn't see it when he dropped that chili on the carpet.
Calorie Cut: Give your sammie a makeover. You can still enjoy a (non-soggy) sandwich if you're trying to lower your calorie intake; just make the following changes (adapted from Women's Health Magazine) and you can cut more than 400 calories from your lunchtime staple:
- Swap a sandwich thin or flatbread (100 cal.) for two slices of white bread (140 cal.)
- Slather on a 1 Tbsp. of mustard (10 cal.) instead of 1 Tbsp. of mayo (100 cal.)
- Skip the cheese (110 cal.)
- Go for 4 oz. of lean turkey (120 cal.) versus 4 oz. of roast beef (300 cal.)
Exercise: Stand up. Stand in the place where you live (thank you, REM): you have given us the simple key to burning 100 calories in a mere 70 minutes. The only caveat is that you must stand for at least 1 hour, 10 minutes straight; no sitting down on the job. Just… stand!
Calorie Cut: Ditch dessert. We all like a little somethin'-somethin' sweet at the end of the meal. But with a slice of carrot cake, a hot fudge sundae, and strawberry shortcake with whipped cream averaging around 300 calories apiece (via MyFitnessPal), you can dump a lot of potential calories just by taking a pass on dessert. Oh, and skip that Irish coffee you were planning to have with it to save the extra 100 calories to get to your 400 calories cut quota.
If you still insist on ending your meal on a sweet note, enjoy a cup of sliced strawberries (about 40 calories).
Exercise: Dance like nobody's watching. They aren't, you know: you can get as wacky as you like, and lay down that boogie until you burn off 100 calories in about 15 minutes.
If the average song is about 5 minutes long, just play three dance hits; I recommend Songza/Google Music's For Shame: '80s & '90s Guilty Pleasures! Abracadabra: you've gotten in your 100 calories' worth of exercise for the day.
Calorie Cut: Impact your Italian. A half-order of spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce at Maggiano's is going to run up a heart-stopping 2,180 calories; while you can certainly split it with a friend, you are still eating close to half your daily calorie allotment in one meal!
You can order their same-sized spaghetti and meat sauce for "only" 1,770 calories... or, you can make your own healthy Italian entree with "zoodles" for about 40 calories for a cup, and add a half-cup of turkey bolognese for about 120 calories. (Get the skinny on spiralizers, which make voodles, here.)
Exercise: Step lively. Skip the elevator and take the stairs; 15 minutes of stair-climbing will burn 100 calories. Or, if you're at home, just put in your headphones, pop on a podcast, and walk up and down the stairs of your house or apartment complex. You don't need to run or even go particularly fast!
Calorie Cut: Snack smarter. Let's play a game of Eat This, Not That...
- Morning snack: Eat cherry and dark chocolate Greek yogurt (120 cal.), not a chocolate frosted donut and a small latte (390 cal.)
- Afternoon snack: Eat 3 cups of air-popped popcorn and a seltzer with lime (100 cal.), not a snack bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos and a can of Coke (290 cal.)
The amount that you can cut from your daily intake just by snacking smartly is astonishing, to say the least.
Of course, it's a lot easier to say you want to lose a pound a week than to actually do it. We've all been there.
But if you change up your exercise every day, make some smart food swaps, and cut yourself some slack when you do slip up, you'll be watching those numbers on the scale go down and your confidence go up in no time at all!