Losing weight and getting in shape can seem overwhelming if you’re just getting started, but it doesn’t have to be. Forget about depravation diets and pushing your body to the extreme with crazy workouts. Instead, try these small changes to start seeing big, long-lasting results!

1. Start Moving: You don’t need a gym membership or expensive workout program to get started, you just need to move! Put your kids in their stroller or wagon and go for a walk or put on some music and dance around your house while you clean.  Every time you move your body, you’re burning calories!

2. Follow the One Mile Rule: Burn calories instead of gas by following this rule from Prevention: If your errands are less than one mile away, walk instead of drive. Or, park where you can run several errands within a mile instead of moving your car each time.

3. Add Extra Steps: Whenever you can find a way to get in extra steps during the day, do it!  Park at the far end of the parking lot when you go to the store or take the stairs instead of the elevator. It all adds up, trust me! For other quick ideas, check out 8 Ways To Sneak In A Workout Right Now!

4. Have Commercial Dance Parties: Get moving during the commercials of your favorite TV shows. Dance, jump rope, run in place, lift some 5 pound dumbbells, or do anything that gets your heart rate up!


5. Add Strength Training: Now that you’re moving, add in some strength training to help build muscle and boost your metabolism.  No weights?  No problem! Push-ups, crunches, and basic squats are a great way to tone your muscles using your own body weight. No equipment required! Do a few when you first wake up in the morning to get your blood pumping, or squeeze some in during the day while your kids are napping. Here are a few more ideas for a great bodyweight workout.

6. Stop Finishing: You’re not a garbage disposal, so stop finishing your kids food! That handful of crackers left in their snack bowl, the three bites of hot dog left on their dinner plate – all those extra calories add up over time.

7. Get Rid of the Junk: It’s simple – if it’s not there, you can’t eat it!  Go through your pantry and fridge and get rid of the junk food. This means chips, cookies, ice cream, soda…all the things you know are bad for you, but you just can’t seem to resist.

8. Eat More Colors: Replace the junk with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Need something crunchy? Try raw carrots or cut up bell peppers. Craving something sweet? Keep fresh fruit on hand for a yummy treat. Instead of satisfying every single junk food craving you have, try these healthier alternatives instead!

9. Don’t Drink your Fruit: I know juicing is all the rage right now, but skip juice and eat the whole fruit instead. You’ll get more heart-healthy fiber in your diet and you’ll stay satisfied longer.

10. Keep a Food Journal: Keeping a food log helps control extra calories. Write down how much you eat and you’re more likely to practice portion control. It also gives you a better idea of what your eating habits really look like. Do you skip meals?  Do you go straight for the ice cream when you’re feeling stressed?  Seeing these things in black and white can be a real wake-up call, and can help you see what changes or adjustments need to made. To get your healthy portions under control, read Food Proportions: Quick Tips to Eat the Right Amount.

11. Drink More Water: Make water your best friend. Besides quenching your thirst, water helps flush toxins from the body, aids in digestion, and helps maintain the health of your hair and skin. Water can also help alleviate hunger by making you feel full. If you’re finding it difficult to drink enough water, read 7 Quick Ways To Stay Hydrated. And be sure to try Skinny Mom’s Slim Down Detox Water for a quick way to boost metabolism and purge toxins!

12. Drink Water with Lemon: Now that you’re drinking more water, fitness expert Jackie Warner has a tip to take it up a notch in the weight loss department. She recommends drinking 3 liters of water with lemon each and every day. “Adding the lemon helps to detoxify the liver and metabolizes fat, so this can speed up metabolism by about 33 percent,” Warner says. “That burns about 100 extra calories per day!”

13. Make Dates to Exercise: You’re more likely to stay motivated if you have someone doing this with you. Find a friend to exercise with you, and make it a weekly (or daily) date to get together.  Or go for walks or bike rides with your spouse for fun date night.

14. Set Goals: Start small, such as making it your goal to exercise three times a week or lose five pounds this month. When you reach one goal, set a new one. Work up to your big goals, and reward yourself when you reach each small goal – but not with food! Treat yourself to some new workout clothes instead. For more tips, read 5 Tips To Turn Fitness Goals Into Reality!

15. Get Technical: Use technology to help keep you motivated.  Sign up for e-newsletters from your favorite health & fitness sites, follow your favorite fitness celebrities on Facebook and Twitter, or join an online fitness group for accountability and support.

One last thing…remember to smile! You’re doing something good for yourself. All these little steps will add up to big changes if you stick with it!