If your stomach is looking more like a keg than a six pack I have good news for you: science shows there are proven ways to slim up and get in shape in time for summer. Here are 10 of them you can start using today.

Commit to five minutes of exercise each day.

Psychologist Robert Cialdini says small commitments lead to lasting changes in his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Another psychologist, BJ Fogg, agrees. If you want to slim up fast, make a firm commitment to exercise every day for just five minutes. Those five minute sessions add up, and many days you’ll end up doing much more than that.

Replace all liquid calories with water.

Liquid calories are one of the biggest sources of excess weight gain. A single soda has around 150 calories and over a day’s worth of sugar. When you don’t burn that sugar off, your body converts it to fat. Replacing calories from soda, fruit juices, and liquid dairy products like milk with plain tea, coffee and water can save you hundreds of calories a day, which can help you lose a couple pounds every month or more.

Eat out no more than once per week.

The average restaurant meal has over 1,100 calories, and that doesn’t include drinks, appetizers and dessert! When you take into account all those things, you’re looking at around 2,000 calories for a single night eating out. Stay in and cook your own meal instead, or order a healthier option. Many restaurants now have low calorie menus.

Use herbs and citrus to add flavor to food.

Cooking with oil, butter and salt leads to weight gain and potential health problems. Use lemons, limes and fresh herbs instead. Here are a few of my favorite flavor combinations:

  • Lemon juice, basil and Parmesan-reggiano cheese
  • Lime juice, cilantro and black pepper
  • Thyme, rosemary and a dash of sea salt

Do a 7-minute workout.

Research shows doing interval training workouts as short as seven minutes can have more benefit than doing long, steady-state cardio workouts. Here’s the trade-off: interval training is tough. During those seven minutes plan on sweating.

Eat breakfast every day.

According to the National Weight Control Registry, the largest database in the world that tracks people who have lost weight and kept it off, eating breakfast every day can actually help you lose weight. Stick with healthy foods like eggs, oatmeal and fresh fruit.

Eat the right foods for weight loss.

A study of over 120,000 healthy women and men spanning 20 years found eating the following foods resulted in the most sustained weight loss:

  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt

Avoid the right foods to slim up faster.

You also need to know the foods not to eat. Research shows eating fewer desserts, eating fewer fried foods, drinking fewer sugary beverages, eating more fish and eating out less were linked with the most weight loss.

Form a contingency plan for when you slip up.

Research conducted by Gollwitzer and colleagues showed implementation intentions, or “if-then” plans, are an effective strategy for helping you stick with your healthy behaviors when roadblocks arise (which they will). Another study found forming implementation intentions can help you reduce your fat intake. So write down several “if-then” statements to plan for the worst. For example, “If I go out to dinner this week, I’ll skip the bread and appetizer and order a salad with dressing on the side.”

Stop thinking in terms of “dieting.”

Diets don’t work. Research proves it. If you want to slim up that body, you need to start thinking in terms of lifestyle changes. You can lose weight when you go on a diet, but most of the time you will gain it back. Take baby steps every day and keep progressing. That’s the key to slimming up and staying slim for good.

Featured photo credit: djwhelan via flickr.com

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