Are you looking for a comprehensive guide on how to shed a few pounds and feel more healthy, while also satisfying your resolution to green your lifestyle? Well search no further! Everyone knows that a balanced diet and plenty of exercise is at the core of any fitness plan, but this how-to guide will point you to what you can add onto your routine to increase your weight loss and help the environment. For the greatest success while following any fitness plan, we suggest that you first check in with your doctor for the green light to begin, but once you've got the thumbs up, getting yourself to stick to your new plan is the next step. Get a buddy to take on the challenge with you, use a record keeping app, or start a blog to track your progress -- these simple measures will help you get the most out of our guide ahead!
Boycott the Car
Walking everywhere you need to go, or at least walking to the public transit that will take you everywhere you need to go, is a fantastic way to help yourself and the environment. You can burn more than 200 calories per hour by walking, which will result in weight loss when combined with a balanced diet. And by walking instead of driving, you are saving on CO2 emissions and cutting back on usage of fossil fuels.
photo by Stephen Heron
Eating vegan, which means cutting out diary, eggs, and all animal products, has an astounding number of health benefits. Its easy to imagine that less animal fat would help with getting healthy, but did you know that a vegan diet has also been to help rheumatoid arthritis and even stave off allergies? Being vegan also helps the environment, by saving on all of the energy and water used to raise animals. We often forget about these “hidden” wasted resources. If you are finding it hard to compare the amount of water used to grow the veggies in a salad, versus the meat for a hamburger, the folks at GOOD published a fantastic infographic that shows the HUGE disparity.
If you are having trouble knowing how to start a vegan diet, PETA has a nice web introduction set up. And if you feel that going vegan is not going to work for you, try vegetarian — or at least doing meatless Mondays.
photo by Nikki L.
Filling the need for volunteer labor outdoors is a great way to benefit your body and the environment. Whether you find a vacant lot that needs help becoming a park, or picking up trash to help beautify a neighborhood, all this hard work will give you a farmer’s physique and a wonderful sense of satisfaction. Not only that, but research by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that “volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease.”
Go to Bed Earlier
That is right, dozens of scientific studies have concluded that getting more sleep can help you get skinny! In fact, several studies have shown that during times when you are lessening food intake (i.e. dieting), a hormone that regulates hunger, glucose utilization, and energy metabolism can be over-active due to not getting a good night’s rest. The environmental benefit of getting more shut-eye, is that you will save on energy consumption, by turning out the lights (and computer, TV, and other gadgets) earlier. There are also reductions in CO2 emissions by hitting the hay earlier. The Japanese government found that getting just one extra hour or sleep could save 20% on CO2 emissions. They felt so strongly about the environmental benefits, that they launched a national campaign to urge people to get more sleep!
Photo by Craig Dennis
Buy Local, In-season Groceries and Carry Them Home
Seek out markets in your area that represents local farms and stock up on in-season fruits and veggies. Buying local food saves on the fuel needed to transport goods from afar, but it also means you are getting fruits and veggies not coated in waxes or ripening chemicals. Choosing produce that is in season is a good alternative to the energy used for greenhouse raised or imported foods. It will also help you get a workout if you vow to buy only what you can carry safely (don’t hurt your back) in reusable bags home from the market.
Photo by George Alexander
Use Human Power to Tend to Outdoor Chores
If you want to burn off extra calories, while checking outdoor chores off the list, pick up the shovel instead of a gas powered snowblower. If you have a lawn, use could use a manual or solar powered push mower. Better yet, you could spend your energy replacing your turf grass with native species that need less watering and trimming.
Photo by Mike Dougherty
Pack Your Lunch
Bringing a pre-packed lunch to work can do wonders to help your weight loss plan. By making a premeditated decision on what you will eat, you can control the portion size and ensure your meal will be full of fresh and low calorie foods. Go green with your packed lunch by transporting it in a reusable bag. You can even make a bag that hooks onto your bike frame by following these DIY instructions here.
Photo by Lenore Edman
Cook at Home
Improving your culinary skills will lead to better health for several reasons. One reason is that you are aware of exactly what is going into every meal — unlike restaurant food that may be extra yummy by hiding cholesterol-packed sticks of butter in the secret sauce. It will also help with portion control, since you can more easily make the decision to split dishes into servings and save some for leftovers. Also, by purchasing and stocking ingredients, you are saving on wasted packaging that goes into prepared meals.
If you are looking for a great place to search for healthy or special dietary recipes, the Wholefoods website is a great place to start. Don’t know how to cook? Look to your local area health food stores for instructional cooking and nutrition classes.
Photo by Jens Karlsson
Ride a Bike
No time to exercise you say? Well then fit your workout in on the way to and work, school, or when you are meeting up with friends by riding your bike! If you are fearful of riding in chilly months, take some tips from folks here in Chicago that are experts in winter weather cycling. Biking helps the environment for the obvious reasons of saving fuel and emissions from cars.
Photo by Richard Masoner
Lead photo by Alan Cleaver