Life gets busy, things happen, and, sometimes, you just can't make a workout. Although exercise certainly escalates the process of losing weight, it's not the sole factor in seeing a drop on the scale. "Exercise is incredibly important; however, it is possible to lose weight in a healthy way when increased physical activity is not an option," said Brian Secemsky, MD, an internal medicine physician at OneMedical. So if you're going to take a break from the gym, concentrate on other lifestyle components that will contribute to a leaner you! Not totally sure what that means? We've got you covered.
Eliminate calories and track your intake
This becomes especially important when you're not burning a couple hundred calories from a workout every day. "It's much more efficient to eliminate the calories going in rather than trying to work the calories off," Secemsky said. Figure out how many calories you should be eating a day and consider downloading an app to track exactly what you're putting in your mouth every day.
Avoid junk food and sugary drinks
No one is saying that you have to give up an entire food group altogether, but there are definitely foods that should be more of a treat instead of a part of your daily diet. Steph Lowe, a sports nutritionist and creator of The Natural Nutritionist, suggests that the biggest offenders are refined carbohydrates, including breads, cereals, rice, and pasta. So try designating just one night a week that a yummy pasta dish is on the menu!
Get enough zzz's every night
Not sleeping well or not racking up enough hours could inhibit your goals. "Studies have shown that an average of 7.5 hours of sleep per night can help assist with weight loss," Lowe said, adding that our hormones are to blame for this one. "Ghrelin tells us when to eat and leptin tells us when to stop," she continued. When you're sleep deprived, you experience more ghrelin and less leptin, which is a combination heading for weight gain.
Plus, if you're not sleeping enough, you hurt your chances of having energy to work out or even just function at your best throughout the day. So the next time that you'd rather stay home, binge on Netflix, and go to bed early, just tell your friends it's for your health!
Make veggies, protein, and healthy fats your BFFs
Ever hear the saying, "abs are made in the kitchen"? Yeah, that's because it's true. Just because you're not getting serious #gainz at the gym doesn't mean that your diet should suffer. Of course, your body needs the basic nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Lowe said that when you're filling your plate with veggies, steer toward the nonstarchy kinds, like broccoli and zucchini. For proteins, know what's in the kinds that you're eating, and grab free-range eggs and grass-fed beef. And for all you avocado-lovers, this is your thumbs up to keep them in your diet along with almonds and medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil for other healthy fat options!
Stay hydrated with lots of water
If you feel yourself getting hungry, ask yourself, have I drank enough water? You could be feeling hungry when your body is really just craving hydration. "Carrying a water bottle with you, drinking a full glass of water prior to a meal, and drinking herbal tea (particularly in cooler weather) are great strategies to work with," Lowe said, adding that you should be getting at least two and a half to three liters of water a day.
Limit your alcohol consumption
We're the first ones to say that a couple cocktails are all a part of a relaxing weekend! But we're also the first ones to remember how easy it is to rack up the calories with alcohol. "It's about limiting, not taking everything out of your diet so you can't enjoy them," Secemsky said.
Be mindful of your eating habits
Ask yourself, why are you choosing the thing you're eating? Before you eat something unhealthy, figure out if you're doing it because you're treating yourself to it, or if there's another reason, Secemsky said. Are you stressed? Having a bad day? Sitting mindlessly in front of the TV snacking? Understanding the motivation behind that food choice can you help you make more conscious decisions. And remember, "the idea of losing weight isn't to 'diet,' it's to change your lifestyle," Secemsky said.