So, you’re a nerd (or a geek, if you prefer). You spend your life sitting in front of your computer, your TV, or your latest book. You don’t play sports, you don’t go running, hiking or cycling, and the word gym conjures up painful memories from middle school.

And you’ve put on a bit more padding than you’d like.

The problem is, you can’t stand exercise, you don’t want to spend the next 2 months eating cardboard food, and you don’t want to record your every caloric intake with a spreadsheet (though if that idea appeals to you, go for it). What’s a geek to do?

Well, here are some tweaks you can make to your lifestyle that, with a minimum of effort, will help. They won’t take the weight off quickly, but they’ll lower it over time. And you might be able to keep it off better than someone who goes on a crash diet, because you’re changing your habits, not just making a short-term change.

  1. Take the stairs, not the elevator. You have to get there somehow. Take a few extra seconds and get some incidental exercise on the way to work. (If you work on the 47th floor, you can try taking the elevator most of the way, and getting off early.)
  2. Walk a bit more, drive a bit less. Instead of hunting for a parking space close to the store, grab one of the many spaces a bit further off. Take 10 minutes to walk down the street to lunch instead of driving. Park the car and walk into the restaurant instead of taking the drive-through. You’ll get a little exercise, and you’ll save a little gas.
  3. Cut out sides. If you go to a sandwich shop, just get the sandwich. Skip the chips or potato salad. If you have a burger, skip the fries. If you absolutely have to get some sort of side, make it a side salad or a piece of fruit (if that’s an option), or at least something with intrinsic nutritional value beyond starch and grease.
  4. Cut restaurant meals in half. Over the last decade or two, restaurants in the US have become very *ahem* big on portraying value. Look how much food you’re getting for your money! Unless you’re 6 feet tall or physically active, though, you don’t actually need two entire chicken breasts, a cup and a half of rice, and a side of lasagna. I’ve found that at most places, a good guideline is to eat half the meal and take the rest home. (Plus then you have a meal ready to go the next day.)
  5. Stop eating when you’re not hungry anymore. I know this sounds simple, but a lot of us had “clean your plate” drilled into us as children. And you’ll probably hit “not hungry” before you hit “full.”
  6. Cut down on the soda. I know, you absolutely need that Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew. (Believe me, I know!) But if you can, try to get used to having, say, iced tea with meals. Or drink coffee instead (just don’t sweeten it too much). If you’re out somewhere with a soda fountain, and you can handle diet soft drinks, try mixing the diet cola with something else, to cut down on the sugar.
  7. Try to go a step up from fast food. Sure, the dollar menu at Jack in the Box or Taco Bell is cheap, but if you can spare a few more bucks, you might get healthier food at someplace like La Salsa.
  8. Find vegetables that you like. You might have to experiment a bit for this. Don’t be afraid to try things you disliked as a child; tastes change as you get older. And don’t forget to try different ways of cooking them. I never liked broccoli when I was younger, and I still don’t like it raw…but steamed, it’s become a staple. (Don’t try to force cauliflower or Brussels sprouts on me, though.)
  9. Learn to cook (or move in with someone willing to cook for you). Home-cooked meals can be tailored to the right size, so you won’t have extra food sitting on your plate with an “eat me” sign. Plus you know exactly what’s going into them, and you won’t need to load it up with extra butter, salt, etc. like restaurants love to do.
  10. Keep healthier snacks around. If you know you tend to get hungry half-way through the afternoon, plan ahead so that you don’t find yourself grabbing a candy bar from the vending machine. Bring some fruit, or carrot sticks, or cheese, and keep it in the lunch room. If you find yourself chowing down on a Twix every afternoon, whatever else you do isn’t going to help much.

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