In addition to big changes like eating more veggies, cutting back on your sugar-packed smoothie habit, and committing to a kick-ass workout routine, small behavioural tweaks can also have a meaningful impact on your ability to lose weight. In fact, the things you do daily that you might not think twice about (like grazing on meeting leftovers in the break room or forgetting to keep your water bottle at the ready) might be undermining each sweat session and healthy lunch.
The good news is that tweaking a couple of old habits and adding a few new behaviours to your day can help you stay on track with your weight-loss goals. Add these five habits to your afternoon routine and you’ll be on your way to crushing them.
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This is a biggie, says Alissa Rumsey, R.D., C.S.C.S., author of Three Steps to a Healthier You. If you tend to get slammed during the day, it can be easy to brush your hunger cues aside. “This backfires, leaving you famished later in the day and more likely to overeat when you finally do make time to have a meal,” she says. Instead, plan ahead to make sure you have balanced meals and snacks on hand throughout the day. “This will keep your hunger at bay, and you’ll be less likely to reach for that candy dish at 3 p.m.,” she says.
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That said, it doesn’t mean you should start eating just because the food is there. (We’re looking at you office candy dish and supermarket sample lady!). “While it may seem like just a small sample or tiny bite, these all add up over the course of the day,” Rumsey says. “Often these bites, licks, and tastes are a significant source of calories.” And if you’re constantly grazing, you’ll never be truly hungry or full, making it harder to really feel satisfied. Before reaching into your snack drawer for that daily nibble of chocolate, ask yourself if you’re actually hungry or if it’s just a habit.
While morning workouts are awesome (a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that a.m. schvitzers actually consumed fewer calories throughout the day), that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook all afternoon. “If you sit for the rest of the day, you are undoing most of those good workout effects,” says Rumsey. “Make an effort to stand up and move at least once an hour, even if it’s just for a minute or two. All these little movements add up.” Consider this your excuse to walk across the office to deliver a message by hand instead of writing yet another email.
“People underestimate the impact that not drinking enough water can have on our bodies,” says Rumsey. “Even slight dehydration (just one or two cups) can cause you to feel hungry, when really what you need is fluid.” Post-lunch, make sure you keep a full water bottle at your desk and keep drinking throughout the day. This will help you avoid the temptation of the vending machine and enable your metabolism runs more efficiently. The American Council on Exercise recommends that active women drink 2.7 litres or 91 ounces of water per day for optimal hydration.
When you hit the gym before dinner, work in some high-intensity interval training. “Alternating high-intensity bursts with low-intensity recovery periods increases the fat and calorie burn during the workout and up to 24 hours afterward,” says Rumsey. Score. Short interval sessions can also be super beneficial, she adds. If you can, try to squeeze in a 10 minute sweat session when you get off work or between afternoon meetings. Alternate 20 to 30 seconds of high-intensity moves with 30 to 60 seconds of recovery.
This article originally appeared on Womenshealthmag.com.
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