When I lived in Germany as an exchange student, something really stood out to me: most families only had one automobile. When my children were in their teen years, we had three to four drivers which meant three to four cars parked at our house. This doesn't seem all that significant until you realize that the people in Germany with only one car per family got more exercise.They walked several blocks to the train station or bus stop.They walked short distances instead of using their cars.Some rode bicycles with a basket on the front to go to the market every other day for fresh produce and bread. Their waistlines were smaller than the average American's waistline because they burned more calories every day.
Another difference I noticed in Europe were their eating habits. A magazine on a newsstand at the time depicted Americans in a cartoon picture represented by a fat woman in shorts, tank top, and slippers with curlers in her hair at the grocery store. She was pushing a cart full of cans and boxes-convenience foods. This depiction was about the American lifestyle! I was shocked at that portrayal. The Germans cooked all of their food from scratch.They bought fresh produce every other day. They also had one slice of whole grain bread or knaekebrot (a cracker-like bread) for a sandwich in their lunches when they packed for work or school. The main large meal was lunch if they were at home, with a smaller, lighter meal at dinner. Snacking was minimal, but when they did, it wasn't a bunch of chips or other junk food. Instead, they munched on fruit, nuts, or a handful of crackers. Their meals were not always lower calorie; however, meals were more nutrient dense with less snacking between meals.
You can burn more calories in your day easily on top of your regular exercise routine by following their example. It only takes a few changes to add up to a greater caloric deficit. Do you want to blast more calories each day? Here's how:
- Spend less time in your car and more time on your feet and bicycle. Walk or bicycle shorter distances. Use public transportation instead of driving to save $$$ because you will need to walk to the bus stop or train depot.
- Take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators. You burn more calories by taking the stairs than you do walking.
- Wash your car by hand instead of using the car wash. You only need a bottle of car wash solution, water, a sponge, a big towel, car wax, and a buffing towel. Put a little elbow grease into the shine.
- Reduce your conveniences and simplify your life to make your own meals. Crockpots are great ways to have food ready when you come home.Some modern ovens come with wifi so you can use your smart phone to remotely start your meal cooking before you get home.
- Stay away from the convenience foods and snack foods at the store. Be very strategic in your shopping by going straight to produce, meats, breads, and seek out frozen fruits and veggies that are "bare naked" (no sauces). Take a stop in the baking aisle for seasonings, oils, etc.
- Get an activity tracker to track your activity. At first, target 10,000 steps a day, then increase your activity level by 1,000 each week or every two weeks. See if you can spend the majority of your day in the fat burn zone, except for strenuous exercise.
- Shovel the snow instead of using the snow blower this winter. When you do these correctly, you will feel the burn without hurting your back or shoulders.
- Rake your leaves and grass clippings instead of blowing or bagging them. Most yards in the U.S. are small, so it's not difficult to rake a yard in an hour.
- Use a good broom to sweep your hard floors and walks. Sweeping doesn't seem like much, but when you add it in to the other changes, it will help kick the burn up a notch.
- Have lunch for dinner and dinner for lunch. Eating a lighter meal in the evening, when you are the least active keeps the inches from creeping up. Have the heavier meal during the peak of your work or school day.
- Brown bag it. Try an open faced sandwich on whole grain bread, fresh fruits ad veggies. Skip the chips and Lean Cuisines.
- Garden. Try growing some of your own produce. A small square foot garden can make a big difference in your waistline and your wallet. Those leaves and grass you rake can go into a compost bin to fertilize your plants. No space? Try container gardening instead.
Our American lifestyle will slowly kill us if we let it. Making some deliberate changes can help your waistline, your health, and your wallet.
May God bless you!