When you’re trying to reach your weight goal, it can sometimes feel like booby traps are around every corner: TV ads for big burgers, easy-to-grab snacks at the checkout, and birthday cake after birthday cake at the office. It’s time to fight back. Use these seven tips to turn your whole world into a willpower-generating super machine and keep flying toward your goals.
In the kitchen: STOCK UP
Part of what makes bad-for-you foods easy to grab is that they’re, well, so easy to grab—just unwrap it or dig your hand in a bag, and you’re satisfying your hunger faster than you realize what you’re eating. The solution: Make “unlimited” foods just as easy to grab. Cut celery, broccoli, cucumbers, and other veggies up long before you’re hungry, so when you want a quick snack, these no-guilt options are just as easy to down as a handful of chips. And if you want something sweet or crunchy, make some tasty chips. Try one of our #veggiesexy recipes in the Recipes section, or turn unused broccoli stumps into crunchy veggie chips that keep for days: Cut the stems into 1/2-inch chips, place them on a cookie sheet, and spray lightly with cooking spray on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, then store them in containers for upcoming to three days to chow down.
In the bedroom: POST YOUR MOTIVATION
Arnold Schwarzenegger, somewhat of an expert on achieving the body he wanted, has suggested that people post imagery of how they want to look in a place they’ll see it every day, like the bedroom. This daily reminder can help you remember the vision you have for your long-term goals. One caveat: Be careful to choose inspirational images that are realistic. In a Dutch study, dieters who consistently looked at pictures of models who were too thin engaged in more “goal-inconsistent” behavior than those who looked at normal-sized models. And in a study from the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, doctors noted that unrealistic weight loss goals often sabotaged results. So reinforce your vision by choosing pictures that are of real people—or choose to hang a piece of clothing you’re hoping to wear as you progress towards your goals.
In the hall: GRAB A QUICK REP
For less than $20, a doorway pull up bar can offer a daily reminder to exercise and stay moving all day. Place one in a door you pass through often—and that doesn’t need to stay closed very often—and try to perform one rep each time you cross the threshold. It won’t replace a prolonged strength workout, but you’ll do a lot of reps of an oft-neglected movement pattern—pulling. Can’t do a chin up? No problem. Negative chin ups help build toward the full exercise. To do one, grab the bar with an underhand grip and jump so that you’re at the top of the chin up position, with your chest at the bar, core flexed. Descend as slowly as you can until your arms are straight and you’re safely on the ground. If you don’t want to commit to a piece of equipment, simply place a sticker at a spot above the door. Each time you walk through, jump to touch it. Once it’s too easy, move the sticker up so it remains a challenge.
On your phone: PICTURE YOURSELF ACHIEVING
Nokia found in a 2013 study that people check their phones around 150 times per day. Make each one push you toward your goals. Try changing the background on your lock screen to an image or phrase that inspires and motivates you to stick with your plan and remember your long-term goals. They’re easy to find: Fire up Pinterest and search for “inspiration,” “motivation” and a keyword that you like.
In the car: GET PACKED
Have you ever come home from work, planning to go to the gym. . . and then you don’t? The couch feels a little too comfortable or the pile of mail distracts you and you wind up skipping your sweat session. A little preparation can shut down this excuse: Keep a fully-packed gym bag in your car. You won’t even need to come home from work before heading to your class, run, swim, or strength session.
In your purse: ARM YOURSELF
You can’t always sit down to a fresh meal or snack. But you can be ready when cravings strike: Carry a packet of FreshStart Shake, a sandwich bag of raw almonds or homemade trail mix—in your purse. That way, when you need a little blood sugar spike, you’re ready with options that you control, rather than letting hunger pangs steer you toward something you could regret. The Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Nut Bar is a an absolute craving crusher you can stash anywhere!
At the office: MOVE AWAY FROM THE DISH
Few things in life sabotage the best diet plans faster than the office candy dish. You’re working on something, hit a wall, get up for a walk and there it is, right in the break room across from accounting: a huge bowl of gum drops. Decrease your tendency to grab from that communal bowl by moving away from it. Scientists who studied the candy dish found that subjects ate 1.8 more piece of candy per day when the bowl was placed on their desk versus two meters away. Get that candy far afield and save yourself from unwanted acts of cheating.