By Jim Karas
Nine surprising slim-down tricks
Looking to slim down but not ready for an intense workout? Try these nine
small changes to everyday behaviors that can actually help you lose weight.
1. Get a Good Night's Rest
According to a study from Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Stanford
University, the less you snooze, the less leptin (a powerful hormone) your body
is likely to produce. What's that got to do with shedding pounds? Leptin helps
promote weight loss in two ways: It discourages you from eating (by sending the
message Hey, stop munching — you're full! to your stomach), and it rouses you
to expend energy. More evidence that sleep deprivation interferes with dropping
pounds: The hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, is higher in people who
don't get enough zzz's. (If you don't sleep soundly one night, try to squeeze
in a nap the following day — the hormones are affected by how much shut-eye you
get in a 24-hour period.)
2. Turn Off the Radio
When a restaurant wants its customers to finish their food and go, it plays
fast music — as quick as 120 to 130 beats per minute (which is the tempo used
in most step classes). And for good reason: The speedier the tune, the faster
(and the more) you'll tend to eat. So before any meal, either switch off your
stereo or put on a slow, soothing album.
3. Never Skip a Meal
Ever. Ignoring breakfast, say, isn't going to save big calories. Trust me.
You'll become so ravenous, you'll likely gobble down whatever you can get your
hands on at the following meal. The reasons: Physically, your blood sugar
plummets, making you feel famished; emotionally, you may feel entitled to
consume more. Plus, when you deprive yourself of food, your body thinks there
isn't a source of nourishment readily available. As a result, your metabolism
moves at a snail's pace. And we all know — the slower your metabolism, the
harder it'll be to lose weight.
4. Leave the Car Behind
The numbers say it all: Your risk of obesity increases by 6 percent for
every hour you spend in your automobile each day. Similarly, every mile you
walk on a daily basis translates into an 8 percent reduction in the risk of
obesity. How to get that exercise in? When you're on the phone (especially with
your chatty mother-in-law), pace back and forth. To really knock off some
calories, throw in a few lunges or squats. And when you're watching TV, make
sure you get up and move around during the commercial breaks. Climb up and down
a flight of stairs or speed-walk from one end of the house to the other. Going
to the mall? Follow my shopping rule: no escalators, no elevators. Period.