The gym really is your ultimate frenemy. You love it for that unbeatable post-gym high that leads to bigger muscles, better energy, and a self-satisfied feeling. But you also kind of hate it for the sheer effort it takes to go, not to mention the guilt that follows if you get off track.
Here are 10 non-gym techniques that will help you shed pounds.
1. Hit snooze every once in a while
While it may seem imperative that you wake up early for a long run, it turns out that a lack of sleep directly leads to weight gain. Michael Breus, Ph.D. and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan, says just 30 minutes of sleep loss could make you more likely to gain weight.
Less sleep means high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite. In a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, sleep-deprived participants ate an average of 300 more calories per day.
2. Get your ‘om’ on
Go sans gym with your weight loss regimen and begin meditating. Why? Resetting your brain helps your body become more chemically balanced. According to Art of Living, “excessive weight gain and weight loss are sometimes outcomes of hormonal imbalances in the body. Meditation helps restore that harmony in the system so that if you are overweight, you lose pounds.”
3. Focus on the food
As a general rule of thumb, weight loss is based on 75% diet and 25% exercise. Rather than tormenting yourself over a skipped workout, focus on eating less and eating healthy. “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet,” Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, told O, The Oprah Magazine.
“[M]ore than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart … It’s much easier to cut calories than to burn them off,” he added.
4. Vary your activity
You may have convinced yourself that unless you’ve adopted a fail-proof gym routine, you can’t get fit. It’s time to ditch this misconception. Mail On Sunday reports your body naturally finds the most efficient way to move. The more varied your exercise routine, the better your body will respond and the faster the weight will fall off.
5. Find a sweat session that’s a bit social
Keep your workouts social with team sports or an outdoor jogging buddy. Really, if team sports can be beneficial for kids, shouldn’t they work for adults as well?
The answer here is yes, as Experience Life educates us.”On the field of play, you’ll be moving not just forward and back or up and down, but side to side, on the diagonal and twisting in two directions. This results in a deeper, more varied functional fitness,” the publication says.
6. Make water your go-to drink
Appetite and thirst are regulated through the same part of the brain, leading you to think you’re hungry when you really just need a glass of water. Beat the confusion by drinking a glass of water and waiting 15 to 20 minutes to see if your hunger vanishes.
Not only is water the cure for unnecessary snacking, but a study, shared by Time, also found drinking 16 ounces of water before every meal assists in weight loss.
7. Do resistance training at home
The gym offers a lot of equipment that isolates a single muscle group (like biceps). However, bodyweight resistance training (think push-ups, planks, and lunges) build several muscle groups at once, which work together to create functional strength and power.
Using your weight to build strength and do higher reps allows you to get leaner faster. Plus, you can perform bodyweight exercises anywhere and anytime, eliminating the need for a pricey gym membership.
8. Go easy on the happy hour menu
It comes as no surprise that happy hour with coworkers and friends is bad for your weight-loss goals. While working out with others is a yes, the same can’t always be said about eating and drinking in large company. “When we eat with other people, we consume, on average, 44% more food than we do when dining alone,” Eat This, Not That! tells us.
9. Recognize what stresses you out
Life will throw you constant curveballs and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Those feelings can manifest into anxiety, and if there’s one thing that kills a weight loss regimen, it’s stress. “[C]hemical responses in the body from stress can bring weight loss to a halting grind,” Livestrong.com says.
Remember the meditation we suggested? Get to it.
10. Give yourself a cheat day
When you are a routine gym-goer, a “cheat day” might be skipping a visit. Follow the same pattern with your diet, too. Depriving yourself of rest or those guilt-inducing foods can have the opposite effect on your weight loss. As HuffPost explains, “if you deprive yourself, it has been shown by studies that this deprivation is linked to cravings and overeating.”
So go ahead and rejoice, because taking a day to relax your muscles or eat a couple slices of pizza is OK.
Evie Carrick also contributed to this article.