Losing weight is simple. “Eat less, move more, and keep breathing,” as Wildfit founder Eric Edmeades might say. It may be simple to lose weight, but it is not as easy as it is simple with so many public health issues on the rise.
The USDA suggests Americans need an average of 1600 to 3000 calories per day, depending on factors suc as age, gender, and activity level. Yet some Americans are consuming that many calories in a single meal thereby contributing to chronic health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. So if consuming less calories proves to be challenging in a world dominated by fast food joints at nearly every street corner, then the alternative might be to focus on burning more calories (since you’ve already got breathing on lock down if you’re reading this).
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderately intensive aerobic activity. Yet many report difficulty devoting that kind of time to exercise, even when attempting to chunk it down to 30-minute increments spread across five days per week. This may be due, in part, to overburdening responsibilities or internal pressure to live up to external ideals. However, traditional exercise is not the only way to burn calories thanks to a concept known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT.
NEAT is a factor that is included in the total amount of calories you burn each day, alongside your basal metabolic rate (calories burned while at rest to keep you body functioning) as well as calories burned while at the gym. Did you know that you are burning calories right now as you are reading this blog post? If you like to read whiles lying down, you can burn up to 15 or 20 more calories just by sitting up while you read. Pretty, neat, huh? (Pun totally intended).
Basically, everything we do beyond diet and exercise also has an impact on our waistline measurements. If you live a pretty sedentary lifestyle, you won’t burn as many calories as someone who is always on their feet for up to 8 hours at a time. Simple, an intermittent-fasting app, reports a variance of 2,000 calories between the differing lifestyles of two people of the same size. Yikes!
So if you seriously want to lose weight, consider increasing your NEAT. Keep consuming calories as your normally do because your body needs the energy to stimulate NEAT, but do so with greater mindfulness so that you can prevent overeating by consuming only what your body needs to refuel.
What are some ways to increase your NEAT? Here are some ideas for you to play with:
- Park on the opposite end of the grocery store so you have more of a walk
- Use a hand basket instead of a shopping cart to strengthen your arm muscles
- Turn your work space into a standing desk
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Take breaks every hour for a 5-minute walk to the water cooler (or mailbox) and back
- Embrace doing chores on your own as a full-body workout of its own accord
- Host a solo-dance party at the end of your workday (my personal fave!)
Though technically not considered exercise, these are all great ways to move your body more. If you own a smart watch, keep tabs on how many calories you burn doing things you already do everyday and try doing more of those activities. Bonus tip: Use the calories burned feature of your smart watch to increase your mindfulness of what you eat. As I look down at my Fitbit, I’m noticing that I have burned up to 600 calories between sleeping, walking to the bathroom, and writing this blog post while laying in bed (how neat is that?!). Now that it’s time for have breakfast, I can consider my options and how they might help me gain, maintain, or lose weight. How will you incorporate NEAT into your weight management plan?