Lose Weight — Without Working Out?

The perfect weekday, weeknight, season and year of activity. An excerpt from “The Lean Belly Prescription.”
Burn calories and watch your energy levels soar by following the principles of NEAT.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is simply a fancy way of saying that you don't have to pull on running shoes and sweats to work your body in ways that can help you live lighter, live more fully, live more enjoyably. Depending on how you use your time, your NEAT energy expenditure can vary by as much as 2,000 calories a day. Because you need to shed about 500 calories a day to lose 1 pound a week — by subtracting food from the diet, increasing activity, or both — NEAT is a great place to start. Here are some ways to do it.


Break the spell of the sedentary office.
  • Park the car at the far side of the lot and hoof it to the building.
  • Take a walk with co-workers for half the lunch hour.
  • Once an hour, visit a co-worker rather than using the telephone or sending an e-mail.
  • Stand during phone calls.


Reclaim your life from the screen.
  • You already know what the TV is giving you: not much. Send the dog out to the backyard to bury the remote. Try something else. Take a 15-minute walk after dinner, or do physical household chores during the (many) dead spots in the TV schedule.
  • Pursue a hobby that does not in any way involve a screen. Some examples: playing a musical instrument, woodworking, taking a classroom-based foreign-language course, volunteering at Meals on Wheels.
  • One or two nights a week, go to a dance class or a basketball or bowling league game, tee off with a summer twilight golf league, or even take a stroll through the biggest mall in your area.


You have the time, so move a muscle.
  • Do a major home project that requires several hours of (enjoyable) physical labor, such as gardening, building, painting, or fixing. Bonus points if it requires mental labor to learn a new skill.
  • Volunteer to coach youth sports teams, clean up the community, or help out with the church fair.
  • Encounter nature for half a day: hike, walk, ride your bike along the local rail-to-trail route, explore your community on foot, canoe, kayak, golf (no cart!), go beachcombing, or go birding.

Once per season

Reach for a bigger goal.
  • Escape on a weekend getaway that includes exploration by foot, bicycle, skis, running shoes, or boat.
  • Participate in a charity walk, bike ride, or run.

Twice a year 

Do something you can look forward to (and get in shape for).
  • Take an active long-weekend-away with friends to camp, bike from one B&B to another, visit a national park or national seashore, or go hunting or fishing.

Once a year

Spend a big chunk of time outdoors to best bust stress.
  • Immerse yourself in nature for a solid week. No, you don't have to sleep in a tent, but get outside every day for the same number of hours you'd put in inside on a workday. Get out on your feet, under the sky, and away from the electronic amusements and distractions that absorb far too much of our time. Clear your mind, fill your lungs with fresh air, and breathe out the stresses of our too-harried world.
If you do all that, I guarantee you that a) this will be one of your most memorable years, b) you'll strengthen all of the relationships that matter most to you, plus make some new friendships, and c) you'll shed some of the heavy burden of inactivity. I'm not asking you to learn new exercises or sweat a bucketful. I'm merely asking you to pursue an active life and reap the rewards.

Lean Belly PrescriptionReprinted from The Lean Belly Prescription by Travis Stork, M.D. with Peter Moore, Editor of Men’s Health. Copyright (c) 2010 by Rodale Inc. By permission of Rodale, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.





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