The slacker’s guide to weight loss: 34 super-easy ways to lose weight sans diet or exercise

The most commonly known ways to lose weight:

1. Cut the calories
2. Eat nutritious food and ditch the processed junk
3. Exercise

But what if you’ve done all that and still can’t budge as many pounds as you would like? Or, like me, you’re way too busy/lazy/unmotivated to stick to a diet and exercise plan? Or you have medical issues that don’t allow you to do as much as you would like? Or maybe (and let’s be honest, it happens to all of us at some point) you just want an easier way out?

For these, and a million other reasons, health and weight loss experts have a host of hidden tricks up their sleeve that are not so common knowledge. These are the hacks that are used every single day by those svelte models and celebs who can afford to spend the big bucks on weight loss advice. And they go a long way in melting that excessive bulge – without giving up on those Kettle Salt & Vinegar chips (my personal nemesis!). Try them out for size (pun intended)?

Stare at the screen

Those annoying Candy Crush requests? Turns out they may serve a greater purpose. Vegging out with Candy Crush or FarmVille has its benefits… and I don’t just mean the adrenaline rush of hitting the next level. According to Appetite, playing a fast paced video game distracts you from that sinful red velvet cake, thereby cutting down on calorie-packed cravings.


See, I told you this was a slacker’s guide to weight loss. And how much more painless could it be than to just sleep? Truth is most of us don’t get enough sleep, which raises cortisol, leptin and ghrelin levels, making you crave high calorie foods. Plus, poor sleep literally changes your fat cells, making it near-impossible to lose weight. Statistics from the American Health Association prove that the sleep-deprived average a 55% lesser reduction in fat loss compared to their well rested counterparts. More statistics: According to the University of Michigan, sleeping an extra hour every night could lead to a loss of 14 pounds in a year. And according to the American Journal of Epidemiology, those who slept seven hours every night gained 30% less weight on average than those who got five hours. That’s major.

But also don’t over-sleep as that will be counterproductive and make you pile on the pounds. Optimal duration? 7-9 hours everyday.

Black it out

Is your room dark enough at night? By that, I refer to all natural and artificial sources of light, including the glow from your cell phone, street lights and yes, even a super-moon. Which means you need to knock off that falling-asleep-while-reading-your-digital-gadget habit and maybe even get some blackout curtains if the light from outside is too bright. Because the light – especially blue light (think iPads and such) – disrupts your circadian rhythm, disturbing your sleep and making you eat more during the daytime.

Cut the clutter

Blame those visual cues again: Clutter makes you hog more. According to Environment and Behavior, people eating in messy spaces consumed twice as many snacks as those who ate in a clean space. Time to clean up?

Turn down the thermostat

Yay for people like me, who love chilly rooms! Seems cool temperatures don’t just make you feel good, they actually help you lose weight. Scientists say cold climes force your body to work harder, thereby boosting metabolism. So, think a cold after blast of a shower and a thermostat that’s set a few notches below your usual.


A good quality vanilla aroma cuts down on sweet cravings, says the St. George’s hospital in London. My favourite trick? To just dab a bit of vanilla extract on the wrists.

Make time for nature…

The American Diabetes Association holds that spending time amidst greenery leads to lower body weight. Even a short weekend escape or a morning stroll in the park looks good at this point, doesn’t it?

…but avoid pollution

This one’s easier said than done but the scientific fact is that pollution makes our metabolism sluggish, causing you to gain weight.

And get enough sun

Repeat after me: The. Sun. Is. Not. Our. Enemy. Yes, the sun is NOT our enemy. In fact, it’s the single most life sustaining element of our planet. The health risks associated with sun exposure come more from humans depleting the ozone layer and laying ourselves open to skin-damaging rays than the big orb in the sky itself. In the absence of adequate sunlight, the hypothalamus gland gets imbalanced, making you crave more carbs. And sunlight lowers Vitamin D levels, which makes you pack on the pounds (according to Boston University, Vitamin D3 helps burn fats for energy, rather than storing them around your waist). So grab some protection and head out into the sunlight – we need to let our bodies bask in the sun for at least 20 minutes every day.

Step up the protein

Egg whites, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese… eating about 30 grams of protein at breakfast makes you feel fuller for longer and cuts down on unhealthy snacking between meals. It’s a also a power-fuelled way to start the day!

In fact, pack on more proteins in general. Protein boosts your metabolism and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Plus, your body actually burns a lot more calories while digesting protein-rich foods than it does with other nutrients.

Get more fiber

And then there is fiber… the cornerstone of every great weight loss story. Fiber both fills you up and keeps you regular, helping flush out fats and toxins from the body. Without enough fiber, most of us would be just a bloated mess!

Skip the antibiotics

No, we can’t avoid antibiotics all the time. But some of us end up taking them a bit more often than is necessary. Antibiotics basically kill off the good bacteria in our gut, which helps boost digestion and makes us lose weight. When you do have to take an antibiotic – or any other strong medicine for that matter – make sure to supplement your gut with loads of probiotic supplements and fermented foods such as kimchi and kefir.

Bring out the probiotics

The good bacteria in our gut are super-essential to weight loss. However, our over-polluted, over-stressed environments, coupled with some not-so-healthy foods, means our body finds it increasingly difficult to maintain the micro biomes. Enter probiotic supplements, which are an easy way to maintain the gut balance. And according to the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, people who pop a daily probiotic supplement for more than 8 weeks, have lower BMIs and weight than those who don’t. Time to work in a new habit, then!

Pop a multivitamin

A simple multivitamin pill may make you lose weight systematically. That’s because our body craves all kinds of food when it’s undernourished – sometimes, food that seems to have no connect to any kind of nutrient at all. Like chocolate when you are short on magnesium, or calcium when you are jonesing for a soft drink. Seriously.

Ditch the diet soda

All those zero-calorie promises make it oh so easy to fall into the diet-soda-for-weight-loss trap. But what nobody tells you is that the artificial sweeteners and other chemicals totally mess up your hormones and enzymes, leading to weight gain. How much difference does it make? According to the University of Texas, Austin, people who drank diet soda had a 70% greater increase in waist circumferences than those who abstained. Convinced yet?

Instead… load up on water

Often, what we think of as hunger is only the body’s way of signalling dehydration. So reach out for a glass of water first and see if that helps the pangs subside. Plus, drinking more water can help you feel full and eat less food. And water is crucial for every body function, right from metabolising fat and regulating temperature to facilitating important bio-chemical reactions, aiding digestion, hydrating the skin and helping the body flush out waste and toxins. So, the simplest way to lose weight? DRINK MORE WATER!

Added bonus: Drink it on ice. According to the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, drinking six cups of chilled water can raise your resting metabolism by 12%.

… and green tea

Is there any truth to the claim that green tea helps you lose weight? Yes. Several actually: Green tea has been shown to inhibit lipolysis, the process by which dietary fats (triglycerides) are broken down in the body. Inhibition of the breakdown of triglycerides prevents absorption of the fat, thereby ensuring you don’t gain much weight. Besides this, the catechins in green tea inhibit an important enzyme – catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) – that speeds up the metabolism, thereby stepping up the calorie burn.

Then there is red wine

According to the University of Alberta, Canada, the weight reducing benefits of red wine are similar to that of exercise (this one’s my favourite study!). How? Among other things, red wine is loaded with resveratrol – an antioxidant that helps convert ‘white fat’ into ‘beige fat’. Beige fat makes you lose weight by actively burning calories. Red wine also creates thermogenesis, which raises body temperature by burning more calories. And the tipple significantly increases levels of the appetite-regulating hormone leptin, while saturating the body with piceatannol, which actually blocks the growth of fat cells. Cheers!

… and tomato juice

Still looking for more options? According to Institute of Biostatistics, China Medical University, tomato juice is another great beverage that helps lose weight, while also regulating cholesterol. Hola, Bloody Mary!

Make your glass tall and thin

Of course, we get that you can’t always be limited to water, green tea, red wine or tomato juice. There’s, for instance, Champagne. But there’s still a slacker’s way out of sinful sipping: Simply swap those short, wide tumblers for a tall, skinny glass and you’ll automatically end up drinking up to 30% less liquid calories due to the simple psychology of visual cues.

Change your dishes

Eating out of a smaller plate or bowl creates an illusion of a larger portion and we end up serving ourselves less food. Perfect way to painlessly shave off 200-300 calories every day, all of which adds up to a pretty big deal!

Create a contrast

In a phenomenon called the Delboeuf illusion, when the colour of your plate blends with the surface beneath it (think red plate on red table cloth, or a brown plate on a bare wooden table), you will end up serving yourself 10% more food. Strange but true, according to research by Cornell University.

But don’t match your dishes to your dinner

Another finding by Cornell University: When the main colours of your food match the colour of your plate (red spaghetti on red plates!) you will end up serving yourself 30% more food. Better, instead, to serve up contrasting tones, so you can clearly visualise your portion size.

Have an early lunch

Talking of lunch, having it early is another way to effortlessly lose weight without even trying. According to Obesity, women who ate their lunch before 3 pm dropped 25% more weight than those who had it later, even though both groups ate the same things!

Surround yourself with good food

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Surround yourself with chips, cakes and chocolates and that’s what you will reach out for when the hunger/cravings hit. On the other hand, if your pantry is stocked with healthy options, like carrots and cucumbers, it’s going to be so much easier to make a better choice for your waistline. So, keep the good stuff in plain sight and make the junk food difficult to access.

An apple a day…

Best option to carry out the above? Apples. Plain and simple apples. Because they come loaded with fiber and nutrients to help you lose weight. Not too fond of apples? Basically anything raw – fruit or vegetables – make for a good snack as they are full of fibre, nutrients and hydration. Plus, no cooking = no cleaning = no effort. Triple bonus!

… and some berries

Then there are those juicy little berries… according to the British Journal of Nutrition, three cups of berries in a week – fresh or frozen – can help you drop up to four pounds in a month. That’s because berries contain polyphenols that help burn off excessive blood sugar.  Not. Kidding.

Ditch the white stuff

As a top notch nutritionist once told me: Avoid anything “white”. Instead, get your bread, pasta, pizza, waffles, cookies and just about everything else in a whole grain version, like buckwheat, oats, barley and brown rice. You will cut down on calories, cholesterol and bloating without even noticing a marked difference in taste.

Go beans!

Lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas… according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, having just 3/4 cup of these can help you drop half a pound. Without any other change in your diet or exercise. Reason? Beans and lentils are chock full of fiber and protein, two of the top ingredients needed for sustained weight loss.

Spice it up

The spice lover in me simply loves this one: chili-pepper-laced foods help you feel satiated with smaller portions and thereby cuts down the calories. My favourite is a sprinkling of cayenne pepper over salads, grills, roasts and just about everything else.

Cut out the additives

Artificial flavouring, chemical sweeteners, preservatives, plastic packaging, trans fats… all these have been linked to weight gain and a host of other health problems to boot. So swap that ultra-processed, pre-packaged food for fresh, farm-to-table type of sustenance and the pounds will start dropping away almost automatically.

Up the flavour quotient

Chewing a strongly-flavoured sugarless gum, having a cup of strong black coffee or even rinsing your mouth with Listerine is a good way to defeat food cravings. The strong flavours will overpower your taste buds, making those chocolates and crisps just feel blah, saving you from a gazillion calories!

Get busy in the bedroom

Sounds too good to be true but sex does make you thinner. It burns 200-300 calories in an hour, says my personal trainer. Yoga will torch approximately 230 calories in that time, dancing will do 260 and walking 310. Do the maths. And it’s not just the cardio quotient: Nookie releases testosterone, which goes a long way in building and maintaining bone and lean muscle tissue. Thin and toned? Bring it on!

Stop stressing

Easier said than done but stress increases levels of cortisol, which piles on the belly fat. If you live or work in high stress environments, as many of us unfortunately do, try to meditate, do yoga or find some other activity that relaxes you on a regular level.

The essential guide to prepping for yoga

My recent quest for a healthier existence took me to a yoga school yesterday morning. Where I realised (much to my horror) that it’s quite different from simply strolling into a gym, water bottle and towel in hand. Yoga requires a certain amount of prep-work even before you step into the class and starting a new program can be intimidating. So, I spent the days frantically phoning yoga experts to put together a checklist that will ensure one gets the best out of every session.

1. Don’t eat right before class: Refrain from eating at least two hours prior and 30 minutes after your practice.

2. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during and after class. Better yet, drink plenty of warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice, which is a terrific detoxifier!

3. Dress correctly: Wear whatever feels comfortable, preferably in soft cotton and Lycra spandex blends, with soothing colours and dry-fast weaves. That said, big baggy clothing does a disservice because you can’t see what’s going on with the body. Tighter fitting clothes, with the ankles showing, let the teachers see your true alignment and make it easier for them to help you with adjustments. Also avoid pockets, zippers, buckles or buttons on the back or abdomen.

4. Do not wear shoes: You could try yoga socks that help prevent slipping, but practicing barefoot is highly encouraged.

5. Bring water, a hand towel and a mat: While you can rent or borrow them at most studios, it’s more hygienic to have your own. Your mat = your germs. Simple!

6. Bring a large towel: Sweat + yoga mats = slip and slide. Draping a large towel over your mat will help you gain traction in poses like downward dog.

7. Avoid “noise”: Go easy on perfumes and don’t be loud or chatty. The yoga space is intended to be a sanctuary where one may go to decompress from the day and as such it’s best to keep it in a neutral, relaxed state.

8. Be on time: You don’t want to miss the warm-up. This is not just a matter of respect but also of safety.

9. Practice common sense: Know your limits and listen to your body. Ask questions if you’re unsure about a pose or movement. Beginners should start slowly and learn the basics (like proper breathing) rather than how far you can stretch. If you have any medical conditions or injuries, talk to your doctor – poses can be modified once the instructor knows your problem areas. And always remember – pain is not good. Don’t push into it, don’t hold your breath. Just get out of the pose.

10. Accept your feelings: It’s normal (and healthy) to sometimes feel emotionally upset during or after a yoga session… releasing tension in the body releases emotions as well.

Finally, don’t give up too quickly. There are many styles of yoga, not to mention different studios and instructors you might prefer if one doesn’t work out.


11 reasons you should drink coffee every single day

You know what I love most about birthdays? Getting to swan around like a total diva Because my family has this really cool tradition: From the stroke of midnight on your birthday, till midnight the next day, you get to boss around whoever you want and nobody can yell at you or make you do any work. Not even mom can make you clean the table or pick up your clothes off the floor. And the husband has to concede every argument and can’t call you out for being unreasonable or demanding. So, basically, 24 hours of pure bliss… which sort of make up for turning a year older!

You know another thing I love about birthdays? Gifts. Not the extravagant kinds but the small, intimate ones that can only come out of true love. Like the lavender flowers so beautifully crafted out of clay by my mother, despite having two fractured fingers in her right hand (pix coming up soon as they’ve gone for framing!). She knows I love lavender and am always bemoaning the fact that they bloom for such a short while. Only a mother’s love could have spent a straight 72 hours without sleep, putting together something that would take somebody else at least a couple of weeks, even without the fractured fingers. Love you mom!

And then there was the most mammoth box of Gourmesso coffee capsules for Nespresso machines, complete with all my favourite flavours (Soffio Caramello, Soffio Mandorla and Messico Forte Blend) from my oldest friend on earth. This is the kind of gift that keeps on giving, because not only does coffee wake you up, get you through a lousy day and tide over the crazy deadlines, it’s also chock full of health benefits that other beverages would find it hard to equal. So, basically, this is a gift of pure sunshine that promises health, good humour and happiness in a cup. Through the year.

Don’t believe me? Here are 11 science-backed reasons why a jolt of java is good for mind, body and soul. Have fun reading while I quickly pop a pod and see you on the other side.

Coffee makes you happy

And I don’t just mean this in terms of the caffeine high! Coffee literally makes you feel happier by stimulating the production of serotonin and dopamine, which make you brighter and perkier.

Coffee promotes mental sharpness

Well… d-uh… right? Coffee helps us perk up and face the mornings. And the mid-afternoon slump. And the late-at-night deadline. And everything in between. But it doesn’t stop there. Coffee actually sharpens the brain, making it work more efficiently. Result? Faster reflexes, enhanced attention span, increased focus, better memory and improved logical reasoning. But it doesn’t just end there. Research shows that drinking 3-5 cups of coffee daily also cuts the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia by 65%.

coffee-benefitsCoffee cuts pain

Sore muscles? A cuppa can reduce the pain by up to 48%, say Norwegian researchers and the Journal of Pain. I need my gym to install a coffee bar. Pronto.

Coffee helps weight loss

A jolt of java not only reduces post-exercise pain, having a cup of black coffee an hour before your workout can increase physical performance by almost 12%. The link? Caffeine boosts adrenaline, which helps you work out harder and more efficiently. Plus, it also helps break down fat cells. #doublewhammy

Coffee suppresses chronic inflammation

And I don’t mean the kind of inflammation that occurs when you hurt yourself or are stung by a bee. We are talking about chronic internal inflammation that occurs under the skin or around our vital organs – such as the heart or liver – putting extra pressure on them (think of it as an extra layer of fat or mucus that’s squeezing the organs), while simultaneously blocking optimal supply of nutrients. This internal inflammation is the leading cause of chronic issues such as diabetes, heart trouble, cystic acne, eczema, wrinkles, fine lines, dullness and sagging. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that caffeine can block the pathways of inflammatory molecules, preventing them from lodging in our body. This means more flexible arteries, lower blood pressure and a host of skin benefits to boot.

Coffee amps up your antioxidants

Strange as it may seem, Americans get most of their antioxidants from coffee. Yes, coffee. That’s because a serving of coffee contains more antioxidants than a serving of things like grape juice, oranges and blueberries.

Coffee protects your heart

Dutch and Japanese studies (the latter had 76,000 participants!) show that moderate coffee drinkers (1-2 cups per day) have up to 38% chance of dying from a cardiovascular disease.

Coffee prevents diabetes

After 28 studies over more than one million participants, researchers at Harvard have found that a single cup of coffee can cut the risk of Type II diabetes by 8% (just remember to hold the sugar). Take this up to 6 cups daily and you reduce the risk by 33%. The reason? Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, a polyphenol that reduces the concentration of blood sugar and slows down its absorption. It also contains magnesium and potassium, which increase insulin sensitivity and reduces sweet cravings.

Coffee protects your liver

Drinking one cup of coffee a day can cut your risk for developing liver cirrhosis by 20% by lowering enzyme levels. Take it up to four cups a day and it can also halt the progression of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

Coffee helps avoid kidney stones

According to studies at Harvard, coffee is a diuretic that helps flush out excess calcium and sodium from the body, thereby preventing the formation of kidney stones. Trust me, I’ve had them and they literally do hurt more than childbirth.

Coffee prevents cavities

If I had to choose my favourite finding about coffee’s health benefits, this is The One! As someone who has a serious dental phobia (think serious hyperventilation, high blood pressure and shortness of breath every time I have to see the dentist), just knowing that black coffee helps the bacteria that cause tooth decay has me literally brewing up another cup right now. Hold the milk and sugar, though!

What’s the best birthday gift(s) you’ve ever received?

What does your tongue say about your health? Prepare to be seriously surprised

Recently, my mother has been going to a Chinese acupuncturist and the first thing he does is make her stick out her tongue. Even though the problem is a slipped disc in her back, the treatment always begins with a visual examination of the tongue.

And that’s a trend I am increasingly seeing with most doctors, whether traditional or given to more modern medicinal practises. The reason? Your tongue gives out more clues about your health than one might ever imagine.

For example, a white coating on the tongue could tell the doctor to address your digestion, while one with a purple tinge could point towards circulation problems. Reading the tongue has always been a cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine, much like face mapping, and it’s now getting a standing ovation by modern science as well.

What’s the perfect tongue, then? One that’s uniformly pink, moist, plump and has a very thin white coating. It shouldn’t quiver when you stick it out and there should be no cracks, grooves or indentations.

Is that you? Congratulations, you seem in good health.

If not, stick out your tongue, look in the mirror and learn to read what your body is trying to tell you**.

Super smooth tongue

If you think having a smooth, moist tongue puts you in the clear, think again. According to Chinese medicine, an overtly smooth tongue could signify water retention, mucus buildup or reduced immunity.

Thick white coating on the tongue

According to Traditional Chinese medicine, a thick white coating indicates ‘stagnation’ or a ‘cold’ zheng. This leads to sluggish digestion, mucus buildup, candida, tendency towards back problems, lack of beneficial bacteria or excess fat in your diet.

Pale tongue

This could indicate poor circulation, mucus and fat accumulation or anaemia. You may feel low on energy and exhausted.

Red bumps on the tongue

Expect digestion problems, insomnia and symptoms of a stressful lifestyle.

Shades of red and yellow on the tongue

According to traditional Chinese medical practitioners, these are signs of a “hot” zheng, which may be manifested as an infection or inflammation in the body, especially the liver, gall bladder or intestines. It may also indicate high blood pressure, anaemia or another blood problem, and may be a sign that you need to cut down on excessive dairy products, eggs, meat, sugar, alcohol and spices.

Purple tongue

If your tongue is tinged purple, check for sluggish blood flow, high cholesterol and other circulation problems. It may also be a warning to cut down on sugar, alcohol and an intolerance to certain medications.

Green tongue

This may be the sign of a progressive infection in the body.

White or red spot on the tip of the tongue

While a white bump on the tip of your tongue may point to kidney problems, a red one could be the sign of emotional stress or allergies.

Cracked tongue

A cracked tongue could be a sign of dehydration or nutritional deficiencies (particularly vitamin B and C). A crack that runs down the centre of the tongue may speak of a bad stomach or indigestion.

Tooth indentations on the tongue

If your teeth leave indentations on the tongue, it could be because of low immunity, exhaustion, fluid retention, nutritional deficiency, digestive problems or the spleen.

Sore tongue

Check your nutritional levels as this may indicate a deficiency, particularly B6, B12 and iron. If you are getting a burning sensation on your tongue, it may be because of an upset stomach.

Wobbly tongue

A tongue that doesn’t stay still could be a sign of chronic exhaustion.

** Do remember that, as with all medical issues, you should see your doctor for a proper prognosis. This is just a general guide to head you off in the right investigative direction – just because you have a white bump on your tongue doesn’t always mean you have a bad liver!