8 Clever Tips for the Body You Want

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In the words of Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don't Get Fat, "Everything is a matter of balance." In other words, getting in great shape doesn't mean you can never eat your favorite dessert again. It just means you can't have it every day. What's more, getting fit doesn't have to be difficult, painful or expensive. In fact, the most effective diet and exercise strategies will fit seamlessly into your life. Here are eight easy ways to get the body you want—with less effort than you might imagine.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

Work with temptation, not against it.

2 / 9 Work with temptation, not against it.

The first rule of being "naturally" slim? Never shop for food when you're hungry. Hunger activates the part of your brain that responds like Pavlov’s dog to tempting images of food. That’s why a stroll down the cookie aisle lands all those sweets in your cart when you shop just before dinner. Do your grocery shopping after a meal or snack, and you'll save yourself a world of calories. The next time you go to the grocery store, set a mini-goal to get out of the store without any junk food. And who knows? If no fudge brownies are around, you might be more likely to eat those fresh blueberries in your fridge.

Make your fitness or diet goal public.

3 / 9 Make your fitness or diet goal public.

One woman posted this on her Facebook page: "Am trying a day without chocolate." She got so many comments from friends, she was still resisting her craving a week later. Whether you tell a lot of people or a few, making your goal public is a powerful way to motivate yourself. "You're not airing your dirty laundry or revealing anything too specific," says Kris Gethin, personal trainer and author of Body By Design. In fact, the woman on Facebook didn't even mention that her real goal was to lose 15 pounds. So tell someone your goal. Just mention what you're aiming for in a casual conversation. In a study, people who shared their goal to walk 10,000 steps walked an extra mile a day.

Form a network of healthy, active friends.

4 / 9 Form a network of healthy, active friends.

Whatever your goal, you can double your chances of success by teaming up with like-minded people. Research shows social networks have a huge impact on how you act when it comes to health -- for better or worse. Weight gains and losses are especially susceptible to the influence of friends and family. A woman's risk of being obese goes up about 60 percent if her BFF is gaining, and rises 40 percent if a sibling or husband gains weight. Team up with a friend who shares your healthy goal or join a social or support group. Work out with a buddy, try an exercise class or work out with a furry friend. One study found dog owners are about 34 percent more likely to get enough exercise.

Put exercise and healthy foods within reach.

5 / 9 Put exercise and healthy foods within reach.

The best way to weave healthy habits into your life? Put them right in front of your face. Leave your running shoes by the door or park your hand weights and balance ball next to the TV where you can see them. Says Susan Koven, MD, faculty member at Harvard Medical School, the same goes for food. "Few things make people more anxious—or more likely to overeat—than a scarcity of food. Replace an abundance of unhealthy food with an abundance of healthy food." Stock your kitchen with fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and lean protein. Don't forget to include salsa, herbs, spices and other healthy treats (low-fat yogurt, dried cherries, 76 percent dark chocolate).

Stick with diet and exercise habits that work.

6 / 9 Stick with diet and exercise habits that work.

When we polled women about their most clever health and beauty strategies, most said they do the same things over and over again. The message? Find out what works and stick with it. In one study, less food variety led to successfully keeping weight off. In a post on, Mehmet Oz, MD, vice-chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University and the Emmy-winning host of The Dr. Oz Show, explains "More and more research is showing that putting a cap on the variety of foods and tastes you experience will help you control your weight. Find a healthy lunch you like—salad with grilled chicken and olive oil, turkey on whole-grain bread—and have it every day."

Find time to exercise.

7 / 9 Find time to exercise.

One of the most common excuses for not working out is, "I don't have the time." But most of us have more time than we realize. It doesn't take a lot of time to move your body a little more than you do now, and every little bit of exercise counts. Look for hidden opportunities to be active throughout your day. Each morning while you wait for your coffee to brew, do back leg lifts at your kitchen counter or jog in place. At your child's soccer game, walk up and down the sidelines instead of sitting in the bleachers. Take the stairs, sit on a balance ball at work and use part of your lunch hour for a quick walk. 

Get motivated with self-talk.

8 / 9 Get motivated with self-talk.

In their book, Motivational Interviewing, William Miller, PhD, and Stephen Rollnick, PhD, explain the techniques counselors use to help people reach their goals, such as quitting smoking or losing weight. While working with a counselor can be powerful, there are effective ways to talk to yourself as well. Ask yourself: Why does reaching this goal matter to me? How will I feel when I reach it? And, how ready am I to do what needs to be done to get the changes I want? Just accept your answers, don't judge them. Your inner self is already moving closer to your goal. For more motivation, post encouraging notes or images where you'll see them often. Set up motivating reminders on your mobile device.

Make one small change.

9 / 9 Make one small change.

Our final piece of advice? Pick one easy diet or exercise change you know you can make, and start there. Says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet, "Small steps and strategies do add up. My personal and professional motto is eat well, move daily and be healthy." Consider the habitual things you do every day, since they ultimately shape your health and fitness. Pick one "bad" habit and trade it in for a healthier one. For example, if you drink a high-fat, high-sugar coffee drink every day, start ordering a plain coffee with low-fat milk. Or if you don’t exercise enough, start taking a daily walk. You’ll be surprised at the difference one simple change can make. 

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