Secret Exercise Tricks for Keeping Your Weight Down for Good
It's a maddening part of life that some of us can maintain our weights more easily than others. As Matthew Hulver, Ph.D., a noted physiologist and metabolism expert at Virginia Tech, once explained to me, it's a fundamental reality that some people are simply blessed with superhuman metabolisms. "We all know people out there that can eat twelve donuts every morning and they don't gain a pound," he said. "But, at the same time, we also all know people that can sniff a donut and it seems like they gain five pounds."
But here's one thing that's also true: If you're eating the right foods and you pair your diet with the right physical activity, you're bound to keep your weight in check—and there are all sorts of little fitness tricks you can do to help give your weight-management efforts a much-needed boost along the way. We're talking about clever tactics and mental tricks that will go a long way in helping you keep your weight down for good. Read on for some really great fitness tips you can do every day that will make you look forward stepping on the scale, all according to top trainers and exercise experts. And for more ways to get the body you always wanted, see here for The Secret Trick for Getting Flatter Abs Faster.
Take More Cold Plunges
Submerging yourself in an ice-cold bath—or suffering through a really cold shower—may be wildly uncomfortable, but it comes with no shortage of benefits. "Exposing your body to cold temperatures helps your body to build resilience and improves your immune response and ability to handle stress," says health and fitness coach Chad Walding, DPT, co-founder NativePath. "Similar to when you add weight to a barbell, an ice bath is like giving your cells a little bit of resistance. Your body adjusts by shivering, which speeds up metabolism." For all of the reasons why you'd want to shiver a little bit more on a daily basis, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Take a Cold Shower, According to Science.
Take Exactly Two Walks Every Day at These Times
Put simply, walking more—whether you're going for a casual stroll around the park, going shopping for groceries, or performing walking intervals on a treadmill at your gym or at the local track—is integral to your health, your conditioning, and, ultimately, your longevity. But if you'd like to maximize your walks for the sake of managing your weight, says Walding, you'd be wise to schedule them at exactly two times per day.
"I recommend morning and evening walks, ideally when the sun rises and just before the sun sets," he says. "You want to expose your eyes and skin to the sun to help align your body with its natural circadian rhythms. This helps the body naturally produce cortisol (a stress hormone) in the morning and allows it to taper off in the afternoon and evening. Lower cortisol has been proven to help people keep weight off." And for more reasons you should walk more, see here for the Side Effects of Walking Just 10-Minutes Per Day, Says Science.
But Walk at Speeds Conforming to the "Talk Test"
Walking is great, but brisk walking is even better. "The average young adult will burn 26% more calories during a fast walk (5-6 mph) than compared to a normally paced walk (3 mph)," says Garret Seacat, C.S.C.S. "While substantial, the results are increased even more dramatically when you take into account those who completed the fast walk kept a higher metabolism for 15 minutes afterward compared to the slower walking group whose metabolism slowed again after just 10 minutes. This additional time at a higher metabolism comes to a 43% increase in calories burned over a 30 minute period!"
Seacat advises you to use the "talk test" to ensure that you're walking fast enough: "Walk at an intensity that makes it hard for you to complete more than two sentences without having to catch your breath," he says. "Can't say more than a couple words? Chances are you are going too hard to keep going. If you feel like you could tell a friend an entire story? You are walking too easy." Find the Goldilocks zone, and you'll be walking just right! And for more on walking at the right intensity, don't miss The Secret Trick for Walking for Exercise, According to Harvard.
Remind Yourself That Everything Is a Gym
"I keep my weight down doing a few simple exercises throughout the day," says Rachel Lessenden, a certified nutrition expert and founder of Health My Lifestyle. "Every time I brush my teeth, I step side to side. Or I'll walk around my house while brushing. When I'm cooking at my stove and I'm stirring something I'll do leg kicks side to side. And if I'm doing laundry, I'll do squats while I wait for the washer to fill up with water before I add my clothes. I love multitasking movements because I'm doing the task anyways, so I might as well stay active during it."
Know Your "PAI" Score
In recent years, renowned exercise researcher Ulrik Wisløff, Ph.D., unveiled a concept he calls Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI), an algorithm that produces a single score that not only rates your physical activity but also tells you "how much exercise is needed for maximum protection from cardiovascular disease mortality and other lifestyle disease mortality."
However, a new study published in the June 2021 edition of The Lancet Regional Health – Europe revealed exactly what your PAI score needs to be to ensure that you not only live longer but also don't gain weight. According to the researchers, you need to do enough physical activity every week that elevates your heart rate. The more you work your heart, the higher your score, and you want to achieve a PAI of "100" every week to ensure that you don't gain weight. If you're curious to know more about it—and what that 100 score really means—check out why Doing This One Simple Thing Will Keep Your Weight Down, Says New Study.
Utilize the Steam Room
If you want to keep your weight down, Nurudeen Tijani, a bodybuilder and health and wellness coach at Titanium Physique, advises you to hydrate and use the steam room more.
"Drink half your body weight in ounces of water, and use a steam room or sauna daily," he says. "The body is made up of 60 percent water. Some of that water is stored subcutaneously under the skin and makes the stomach bloated, bigger, and smooth. To help proactively keep your weight down: Drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily, and use a sauna or steam room daily. Using the sauna helps excrete excess water and sodium from the body. Additionally, it helps eliminate and prevent subcutaneous water in the body, to keep your weight down."
Stick to Exercises That Don't Require Rewards After Them
"Exercise in ways that you enjoy so you don't feel like you need to reward yourself by overeating afterwards," advises Bracha Goetz, MA, a Harvard-educated wellness expert and author. "If you enjoy the exercise, it is a rewarding experience on its own, and you won't feel the need to treat yourself when it's over. The exercise is the treat! Go to a group class, stretch to a Youtube yoga video online alone, go for a walk, dance to your favorite music—whatever you enjoy most that gets your body moving!"
Make Watching TV a Fitness Game
Countless studies have proven that breaking up long bouts of sitting can go a long way in helping your body counteract the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle. One great way to do it? Turn sedentary behaviors, such as watching TV, into a fitness game.
"While watching a TV show, don't just skip through the commercials," says Britni Vigil, the founder of the lifestyle site Play Party Plan. "Exercise your way through every commercial. Do jumping jacks during food commercials, push-ups during car commercials, and so on. It's a great way to still enjoy your nightly bit of relaxation while still getting in some extra fitness."
Embrace HIIT—But Stagger Your Workouts
HIIT workouts are great for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time, exercising your heart, and improving oxygen flow to your bloodstream. (Just so long as you're not performing more than 152 minutes of HIIT every week.) According to Jeff Parke, of Top Fitness Magazine, they're also excellent for weight management.
His one caveat? Make sure you give yourself enough room for recovery. "Beginners also tend to do HIIT because it doesn't take much time but that can lead to soreness," he says. "It's important to stagger HIIT workouts and rest your muscles in between sessions. Before you start a HIIT workout, just make sure you're able to complete the exercises without losing form. It's easy to fatigue and injure yourself." And for some exercises to avoid, see here for the Popular Workouts That Can Wreck Your Body, Say Experts.
Stand More Than You Sit
"Inactivity and sitting can be a major cause of weight gain and obesity-related diseases," says Anika Christ, CPT, RD, a personal trainer and dietitian at Life Time. "So, a weight loss tip I often share with clients is to start standing and walking more than you sit."
You can measure this with pretty much any basic activity monitor. "Getting a standing desk at work or making your own makeshift one at home by propping your computer on top of another flat surface is a great way to ensure you're spending more time on your feet," she says. "If you have the option to bike to work, that can be another option to explore." For some great inspiration for trying a treadmill desk, See How This Mom of Three Lost 50 Pounds While Walking Every Day.
Embrace Habit Stacking
Habit stacking refers to the process of grouping together small but meaningful changes into your existing routine. According to Saara Haapanen, BSc, MSc, Ph.D. Candidate, and personal trainer and performance consultant for the Colorado Governor's Council for Active and Healthy Lifestyles, habit stacking could be your new weight loss ally. "Do 15 squats after you brush your teeth," she says.
The key to habit stacking is to treat the cluster of tasks as one. So, if you do 15 squats after you brush your teeth, don't view that as two tasks. It's simply what you do every time you clean your teeth, bundled together as a single task. Over time, you'll find that you've added hundreds of squats to your day and you're burning more calories than you were before. And remember: Science has shown repeatedly that forming new habits is crucially important to keeping your weight down.
Set Your Goals Higher Than "Six-Pack Abs"
You'll only win if you raise the stakes of your weight loss, says Haapanen. "Don't make the goal as superficial as fitting into a pair of jeans," she says. She advises making your goal something bigger, such as "being able to play with your grandkids."
"Go deeper for sustainable long-lasting change," she says. "You truly have to want it." And for more amazing weight loss advice, know that Doing This Every Day Is the Key to Losing Weight.