They key to safe, sustainable weight loss is to be consistent. Set a realistic goal (like to lose 5 pounds in a month) but don't get obsessed with the scale. Weigh yourself once a week, in the morning, before you've eaten or drank anything. If you want to lose larger amounts of weight, say 50 or more pounds, this is a long term goal. In order not to feel overwhelmed, break it into short term goals and track progress week by week. Keep a personal journal, or join one of the many, many fitness-based Facebook groups for tracking and accountability.
When incorporating exercise into your daily routine, remember to treat the body as a whole. For efficient weight loss, targeted exercises will do little good. As The Fitnessista explains on her blog:
When our body burns fat, it burns fat all over, not just in a specific spot you’re targeting. Where you see it first is an individual thang [sic]. Some people lose weight and inches in their face first, others their arms, legs, stomach, whatever- everyone is different. The point is that we should focus on our body as a whole when we work out, not just the parts we want to change.
So how to get started? Here are 5 easy, fun things you can do to burn calories at home. Be consistent, be creative, and watch the pounds melt away.
1. Hit It Hard With HIIT
If you're looking for intensity, consider short, hard workouts focused on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). These kinds of workouts require only minimal space, and most don't need any weights or external equipment. The idea is to do several intense cardio movements for very short bursts, about 20-30 seconds, followed by a short rest break, then resume the intensity. This kind of work out is nice because it burns calories, gets the blood pumping, but can be done quickly in a limited amount of space. For optimal results, try a 30-day program.
Example HIIT workout (swap the order of the exercises, or change out one kind of movement for another, the goal is to break a sweat by hitting it hard):
Do each exercise as hard as possible for 20 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest. Repeat the cycle at least twice, more times as your fitness level allows.
2. Activate your Day-to-Day Routine:
If HIIT doesn't sound like your cup of tea, here are some other ideas for getting active and burning calories at home:
Cleaning: Turn on some music, and move while you clean the house. Get the vacuuming done while you bust a move.
Gardening: The lifting, standing, squatting movements of gardening burns more calories than you might think. Do some weeding for about an hour and you'll get a green thumb and a great, youthful body.
Mow the Lawn: With a push mower, of course! About an hour of mowing will burn approximately 500 calories and can work the entire body.
Become a Rockstar: Did you know that if you stand while playing the guitar for about two hours you'll burn approximately 400-500 calories? Do what you love and while getting fit!
Jump Around: Jump rope for about 10-15 minutes three times a day.
Go for a Walk: A moderate paced walk (about 4 MPH) for a total of about 90 minutes -- break it into 30 minute chunks if that's more reasonable -- will burn about 500 calories.
Be a Kid: About an hour of Wii Just Dance will help you hit your 500 calorie goal. If it's nice out, head outside and play with the kids. About 90 minutes of moderate play will delight your children and burn off the pounds. A couple of hours of Frisbee in the park will do the trick as well.
Step it Up: Who needs a stair-stepper machine if you have stairs in your home? Listen to some music to keep you going.
Rest: Believe it or not, when just lying still for about 7 hours, your body burns about 500 calories. This is a great reason to make sure you're getting the sleep you need.
3. Spread out the Schedule:
Most of us don't have lots of time to spare in the middle of day, so consider spacing out your exercise several times a day. This helps maximize your time, and also keeps your routine from getting dull. Spread out your goal of 500 calories burned per day into three sessions.
Morning: After a light breakfast, do a 20 minute workout, or an HIIT routine to wake up and energize yourself. Doing this can burn about 200 calories.
Afternoon: This time of day might be a great chance to take a walk, or get out run errands that need done (which also burns calories). If you enjoy watching TV during the day, challenge yourself to do a HIIT routine, or jumping jacks, or any quick, easy exercise during the commercial breaks. These short breaks can add up to another 200 calories burned.
Evening: Some yoga stretching after dinner while you're winding down for the night can help work out the day's stress and get your mind and body ready for sleep. A proper sequence for about 25 minutes will burn approximately 100 calories.
4. Fueling the Engine:
Being active is essential, but of course, nutrition is important too. Use a simple calorie calculator to keep track of what your taking in versus what you're burning. To lose weight you'll need to create a calorie deficit so your body is burning fat your body has stored. The calories need to be the right kind, though, to sculpt your body into its perfect, youthful form.
Try, as much as possible to eliminate processed foods. Embrace fruits, vegetables, and drink plenty of water. If it comes in a box and needs microwaved, it may not be healthy for you. All the exercise in the world won't help if you're burning bad fuel.
5. Keep Motivated:
Keep yourself on track with a fitness tracker. From phone and computer apps to wearable technology, there are many kinds of tracking devices to help you track your progress and keep you on task. Setting short and long term goals are a great way to maintain a positive attitude when, inevitably, we fall off our plan or backslide into bad habits. Remember that each and every day is a new start. Yesterday no longer matters, tomorrow doesn't yet exist, the only thing you have control of is what you are going to do today. Your fitness and weight loss journey starts right now.