If you’re on the quest to lose weight, you’re probably tired of hearing about exercise. Every piece of advice you receive is likely laced with ideas about jogging, crunches, and time at the gym. Yes, being active is a great way to get fit and lose weight quickly, but it’s far from the only way.
And, for some, it’s not even always the best way. Sometimes injuries, health conditions, and life circumstances dictate what we can and cannot do, and exercise isn’t always an option.
And be honest with yourself. Sometimes, you just don’t feel like it!
It seems like working out is all anyone ever talks about when it comes to losing weight, but what if there were ways you could lose weight without lifting a finger? What if you could do it all right there from the couch?
It’s possible! With a few lifestyle changes, you can skip the conventional exercise plans and get right to the weight loss.
While this might sound too good to be true, it isn’t. This isn’t some miracle method—it’s based on good, old-fashioned willpower, self-care, and dietary restrictions. But if you can’t manage physical activity right now, these tips will help you still stay healthy and lose weight.
So let’s take a look at 6 ways to get in shape that aren’t exercise.
Reduce Your Calorie Intake
Your body responds to what you eat in a certain, predictable way, and to lose weight without exercise, you’re going to take advantage of this.
Have you heard the old saying that 3,500 calories is equal to one pound of fat? Well, it’s not quite true, but it’s close enough—eat 3,500 calories more than you need over a period of time, and you’ll gain around a pound of fat. On the other hand, if you eat 3,500 calories less than you need, you’ll lose that pound.
Of course, everyone’s body works differently, so this math doesn’t quite work out. The point, though, is that, to lose weight, calories out must be greater than calories in—you have to burn more than you eat.
Exercise helps people lose weight by helping them burn more calories through activity and increased muscle mass, which consumes more energy. But if you’re going to lose weight without activity, you’re going to have to pay close attention to how many calories you consume during a day.
Get Enough Sleep
It really can’t get much easier than napping your fat away.
The amount of sleep you get each night has a huge effect on your weight. When you’re short on sleep, you experience more intense cravings for “comfort foods”—things with lots of fat and sugar. This is because your brain’s reward centers are overactive after a lack of sleep, seeking something that feels nice.
And you’ll also be more inclined to make the decision to go after those foods. Without sleep, your decision-making ability is greatly impaired, and the less sleep you get, the less you’ll realize exactly how impaired you really are. It’s like being a little drunk.
So a lack of sleep gives you cravings for terrible foods, and then takes away your inhibitions. That’s not a good combo.
If you want to maintain the ability to lose weight without exercise, you’re going to have to make time for at least seven hours of sleep per night—you may need more than that. Find that sweet spot where you’re able to wake up naturally, without your alarm, and you’ll know you’re getting enough sleep.
Almost as easy as sleeping away the pounds, learning to relax is another vital component of staying fit without exercising.
Remember how a lack of sleep can make you more prone to seeking comfort in food? Well, stress does the same thing. When we’re stressed and anxious, our bodies make a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol keeps us ready to fight, flee, and react to danger, but it’s harmful for us when it’s constantly being produced. It causes an increase in insulin levels and a drop in blood sugar that will leave you craving sugary and fatty foods.
Dr. Jason Perry Block, professor of population medicine at Harvard University, says that because eating lowers stress, we’re more likely to overeat when we can’t relax.
“This happens, in part, because the body releases chemicals in response to food that might have a direct calming effect.”
And so learning to chill out can go a long way toward helping you lose weight, especially if you’re unable to exercise. Make sure that you take time for yourself each evening. Take a bath or read a book or just binge Netflix—find what relaxes you and do it. You’ll drop those pounds all the more quickly.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
It might seem counterintuitive to eat more in order to lose weight, but eating smaller, more frequent meals is one of the keys to staving off weight gain.
While the idea that this will rev up your metabolism and burn more calories is just a myth, what this method of eating does do is curb your cravings. According to dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, “After about 3 hours without food, blood sugar begins to fall. And after 4 hours, your body has already digested whatever you sent down earlier.” After this happens, you’re going to be faced with an empty, rumbling belly.
But you can save yourself from this fate by eating more frequently—try for around 6 small meals a day. And don’t eat just anything. Add in lots of protein and fiber to keep you full, as well as plenty of fresh greens. Doing this will help you stop giving in to your weakness for unhealthy snacks, and you’ll be more likely to lose weight without having to hit the gym.
Drink a Lot of Water
Dehydration is one of the most common barriers between fitness seekers and their weight-loss goals. Simply adding more water to your daily routine can do wonders for you.
For starters, drinking water boosts the number of calories you burn during the day—your body has to work in order to process it. In a study by The Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism, drinking just 16 ounces of water spiked participants’ metabolisms by 30 percent. The researchers found that increasing water intake by around six eight-ounce glasses of water per day could increase calories burned by around 200.
It also helps to control hunger—many times, when we feel hungry, we’re really just thirsty. So when those hunger pangs hit, satisfy them with a tall glass of water. Don’t’ reach for sugary sodas or whipped coffee drinks, either—drinking calories is one of the best ways to gain ridiculous amounts of weight.
Stay hydrated, and you’ll feel better, have more energy, and lose weight all the more quickly without having to get up.
Write Out Your Goals
Finally, let’s talk about a great psychological tip that will help keep you on the path to good health. Writing down and visualizing your goals is incredibly important if you want to be able to stick to the healthy habits on this list.
Divide your goals into small, easily manageable chunks and write them down in a physical or electronic journal, one step at a time. Be specific—don’t just write down that you’re going to eat smaller meals, write out how many meals you plan to eat, and what they’ll include.
Make sure each step is realistic and attainable, as well—don’t make a vow to throw out every scrap of sugary food in your house if you can’t quite manage that yet.
Now, once you have your list, visualize yourself successfully competing each goal. Don’t feel silly! This is important—seeing yourself doing these things makes you far less likely to give up.
Doing this will help you change those behaviors and habits that are important for losing weight and staying healthy. And you can do it without getting up from your desk.
It’s Not Hard to Be Healthy
Weight loss doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be pretty simple with just a few important lifestyle changes.
Follow these tips, and you’re guaranteed to lose weight without having to resort to exercise that you might be too tired, injured, or unmotivated to do. Your fitness journey has to begin somewhere, and that somewhere might just be your couch!