If injury or time constraints make working out impossible, you can still lose weight with some smart lifestyle changes. The same goes if you just don't feel like working out, but you may want to rethink that stance -- you'll shed fat faster with exercise, and also gain stronger bones and muscles. With or without exercise, you can't choose where to burn fat; however, losing weight all over will trim your hips and tummy proportionately.
Slash calories from your diet. The only trick to fat loss is eating fewer calories than you burn. With a sedentary lifestyle, most young women use about 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day. Size makes a difference, so the more you weigh now, the more calories you expend. If you eat 500 fewer calories than you burn each day, you'll lose a pound per week. Don't deprive yourself to speed up weight loss -- women need 1,200 calories per day to get enough nutrients.
Choose whole, lean foods. Life will be much easier if you skip refined, sugary fare such as doughnuts and white bread, which your body digests rapidly so you're hungry soon after eating. Plus, fructose-sweetened foods contribute to belly fat, according to HelpGuide.org. Instead, pile half of your plate with an assortment of fresh or steamed fruits and veggies such as leafy greens, tomatoes, asparagus, apples and berries. Fill one-fourth of your plate with whole grains like whole-wheat bread, quinoa and buckwheat noodles. For the remaining fourth, pick lean proteins such as tuna, nonfat cottage cheese and edamame.
Sneak in physical activity throughout the day. You can be active without working out: Park on the far end of the lot at work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, play with your dog or move your body when your favorite tune comes on the radio. These calories add up throughout the day, helping you lose weight faster.
Get seven to eight hours of shuteye each night. A study published in "Sleep" journal in 2010 looked at African-Americans and Hispanics ages 18 to 81. Subjects younger than 40 had more visceral fat, which sits deep in the abdomen, if they slept five hours a night or less. Those who slept longer than eight hours a night also had more visceral belly fat. Visceral fat is especially nasty because along with widening your waistline, it contributes to diabetes, high cholesterol levels and breast cancer, according to Harvard Medical School.
- President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition: Be Active: Why It's Important
- FamilyDoctor.org: Nutrition: Determine Your Calorie Needs
- Harvard Health Publications: Calorie Counting Made Easy
- HelpGuide.org: How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
- PubMed.gov: Sleep Duration and Five-Year Abdominal Fat Accumulation in a Minority Cohort: the IRAS Family Study
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- Consult a doctor before starting a new weight-loss plan.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.