When you begin a fitness quest, you may feel as if you're back in school. The class: Exercise And Diet 101. Reading list? You'll find it stacked deep on every magazine rack and fitness site in America.
With all the concepts and data flying around, you might feel overwhelmed and uncertain about where to even start, let alone where to go for the long run.
A key thing to remember is that you don't have to make dramatic changes to your workout and diet at this point.
Sometimes, even simple changes to your daily routine can add up and help you reach your weight loss goals quickly.
Here are ten easy things you can do to start your transformation and bring you one step closer to optimal health.
1 Have scrambled egg whites
rather than whole eggs.
We don't buy in to the hysteria over whole eggs and cholesterol; in fact, the yoke contains important nutrients. But you can cut calories by omitting the yolk. So instead of eating 3-or-4 whole eggs, try scrambling one whole egg with five egg whites. By doing this, you'll get more quality protein first thing in the morning.
Substituting five egg whites for two whole eggs will reduce your calorie intake by 65 calories and nine grams of fat. This adds up to 455 calories per week.
2 Drink green tea with Stevia
rather than gourmet coffee.
If you habitually start your morning with a little treat from Starbucks, reconsider your order. Rather than asking the barista with the headset and Belichick attitude for some sugar-laden coffee swirled with flavored syrup and topped with whipped cream, order green tea sweetened with Stevia.
Depending on the particular coffee you were ordering before, replacing it could slash your calorie intake tremendously. Many of these beverages contain more than 400 calories.
Substituting green tea for a caramel mocha will save 330 calories each day, adding up to almost three pounds lost per month.
3 Switch from regular
soda to diet.
Nothing damages your sound diet plan more than regular soda. Devoid of real nutrition, this beverage packs nothing but a sugar-coated sucker punch.
If you must swill soda, go diet instead. They contain artificial sweeteners but won't skyrocket your blood glucose levels into pre-diabetic fireworks.
Switching one can per day will save about 150 calories, or one and a quarter extra lost pounds per month.
4 Do '10' during
Rather than leaving the couch to rummage through the pantry during a commercial, do ten reps of an exercise. It's the best way for a couch potato to peel off excess instead.
You can do push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, bodyweight squats, lying leg raises or chair dips - whatever you're in the mood for. By the time the show is over, you'll have strengthened some major muscle groups and provided a slight boost to your metabolic rate.
While each set of 10 is likely to burn only 5-10 calories, they will add up. More important, doing these exercises will save you the 200-300 calories that you would have consumed had you found that snack you went searching for.
5 Eat real fruit
rather than drinking fruit juice.
If you start your day with a glass of fruit juice alongside your cereal or toast, switch to eating whole fruit. Sure, fruit juice comes from whole fruit, but it lacks fiber and contains too many calories for someone who wants to improve their body composition.
Go for a whole apple, orange or a cup of berries for a good dose of fiber as well as a high amount of vitamins and minerals to promote overall good health.
By swapping a large glass of orange juice with a small orange, you'll save about 80 calories and lose almost one pound per month.
Helping the cause: You feel full longer.
6 Sub a protein shake
for a fruit smoothie.
Fruit smoothies are probably a wiser choice than milkshakes; they are calorie-dense gut bombs. Opt for a protein shake instead. This change will help you meet your daily protein requirement, something many people struggle to do.
Plus, if you just mix up one scoop of protein powder with a cup of water, you'll save calories as well. Just don't toss a boatload of fruit in there along with the protein powder - or you're back in smoothie terrain.
Drinking a protein shake instead of a fruit smoothie will save you 200-300 calories (depending on the smoothie), and will help you consume an additional 20 grams of protein. Do this for one week and lose an extra half pound.
7 Perform a simple circuit
in the gym.
A workout program can kick-start your fit lifestyle, but don't limit yourself to cardio. Jogging is so 1976. For the best results, pair cardio training with basic resistance training.
Doing a simple circuit is ideal for a beginner and will gradually allow you to adjust to weight training stimulus. To begin, perform 10 reps each of squats, push-ups, lunges, bench dips, bicep curls and lying leg raises; rest for 30 seconds and then repeat twice more. This 10-minute routine is a great way to build a strength foundation..
This workout will burn about 50-80 calories depending on your body weight, but it will also help to rev your metabolic rate so you'll burn fat faster for hours after.
8 Go for low-sugar pudding
rather than ice cream.
Question: Did Willy Wonka have abs? If you crave chocolate, think healthier thoughts instead. Like preparing sugar- and fat-free chocolate pudding using skim milk.
This tasty treat contains only 90 calories and will provide about five grams of protein per serving. Eating low-sugar chocolate pudding is a smarter choice than consuming a bowl of fatty, calorie-dense ice cream.
Substituting one serving of home-made pudding for a cup of chocolate ice cream once a week will save you about 210 calories, adding up to just over three pounds per year. With this simple adjustment, chocolate can be a part of your weekly diet.
9 Have hot oatmeal rather
than shredded wheat.
Many people on a mission to eat healthier choose shredded wheat for their breakfast cereal. While the low sugar content makes it better than Lucky Charms, it's still calorie-dense.
Instead of shredded wheat, try oatmeal. A third of a cup of raw oatmeal will cook to more than one cup in volume and will supply you with just 120 calories per serving. Also, the warmth of the oatmeal tends to be more filling than cold cereal, so you'll also enjoy that benefit when the mercury drops.
Substituting 1/3 cup of raw oatmeal and 1/2 cup of berries for 1 1/2 cups of shredded wheat will save you about 200 calories and will help you lose almost 1/2 pound more each week.
10 Sit on an exercise
ball at work.
One last fitness fix is sitting on an exercise ball at work. If you spend eight hours each day in your desk chair, your abs will never need to support your body. Your calorie burn will plummet as a result. Simply sitting on an exercise ball, even for just 30 minute intervals, will help engage those abdominal muscle fibers and tighten your midsection.
If the fatty in marketing pokes fun, explain that this change can also go a long way toward helping prevent lower back pain.
You may not burn many additional calories, but the benefits to on your core strength will be immeasurable.
As you go about your health journey, keep these simple yet highly-effective tips in mind. The more of them you can implement, the faster you will see results.