Losing 10 percent of your body weight (only if you’re overweight or obese) can boost your energy and confidence, as well as improve your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. That means you’ll have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes—two chronic illnesses with a big impact on beauty.
Rather than upending your life with a fantastically ambitious workout plan and lettuce-only diet, small changes are the best way to reach that goal. Here are four tiny tweaks that can make a big difference in your BMI:
1. Swap soda for water. To shed pounds easily, start with good ol’ H2O. One study found that replacing high-calorie drinks (soda, juice, lattes) with water, tea or seltzer helped people lose weight. In fact, without making any other lifestyle changes, participants lost four or five pounds in just six months.
2. Eat a daily dose of chocolate. Believe it or not, a new study found that people who eat chocolate five times per week have a lower BMI than their less indulgent peers. Scientists telling us to eat more chocolate? No need to ask us twice.
3. Be more mindful. Think about all your activity in a single day, meaning every time you walk to the water cooler, bend over, stand up or sit down, wipe the counter—all of it. Simply noticing each of those movements and recognizing that they burn calories can help you shed pounds. One study found that housekeepers who thought of their work as exercise lost weight, lowered their blood pressure, and improved their BMI. You have time for that, right?
4. Sleep 7-8 hours per night. Between working a full day, driving the kids to soccer practice and getting food on the table, sleep often falls to the wayside. But if you want to lose weight, make sleep a priority. Tons of studies have found that well-rested people weigh less, and one even found that sleeping 8.5 hours per night can help you burn fat without losing muscle. So go on, hit snooze—it’s for your health.
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