Eating less and moving more may be the basic tenets of weight loss, but there are plenty of extra steps you can take to give yourself an edge and increase your chances of success. From spicing up your food to painting your nails (yes, you read that right), here are ten fresh ways to keep that scale ticking downward at a healthy clip.

Fire up your food and your metabolism

Fire Up Your Food — And Your Metabolism

Rev up your metabolism with chili peppers! Research conducted at Purdue University found that adding spicy ingredients like cayenne pepper, hot peppers, or hot sauce to meals can help suppress appetite and even stoke your metabolic fire a bit. When dieters who didn’t normally eat spicy foods ate a soup seasoned with cayenne pepper for lunch they ate 60 fewer calories at their next meal AND burned an extra 10 calories (it’s a small amount, but over time it adds up!). A small study on mice from researchers at the University of Miami might explain how. They found that capsaicin, the ingredient that gives peppers their heat, activated a certain type of fat cell (referred to as brown fat cells) to burn white fat cells, which typically store energy.

Try adding chopped hot peppers to scrambled eggs, chicken or tuna salad, and tossed salads…or make a spicy sandwich spread by mixing a generous shot of hot sauce into hummus or low-fat mayo.

Sip your way slim with green tea

Sip Your Way Slim With Green Tea

Quench thirst and satisfy hunger simultaneously with green tea. Drinking fluids like water or green tea just before or with meals can help expand your belly with liquid volume so you fill up on less food. A study published in the Nutrition Journal found that green tea may be even more effective at suppressing appetite than plain water. Just don’t add sugar; it’ll negate the calorie-burning advantage. Enjoy a cup of hot or iced green tea with breakfast, lunch, and dinner—three cups (or glasses) a day—to maximize your weight-loss efforts.

Put your TV on a diet

Put Your TV on a Diet

Reality TV may be responsible for a bulging belly. When scientists at the University of Vermont forced a group of study participants to watch 50% less television by electronically locking their TVs, they each burned an average of 119 extra calories per day. Researchers theorize it’s because participants were on their feet and moving more during the time they typically spent slumped on the couch channel hopping. So give your remote a vacation and shave off some screen time — you’ll burn more calories and see faster results.

E-mail to E-Lose

E-Mail to E-Lose

Signing up for a weekly nutrition or health e-mail newsletter is a simple way to jump-start a healthier lifestyle — and it can even help you lose weight. In a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente, individuals who received a weekly e-mail newsletter filled with wellness tips increased their vegetable and fruit consumption, started exercising more frequently, and adopted overall healthier lifestyles by the end of the program. Turns out, a little daily reminder in your inbox can have a big impact. Get started by signing up for my free newsletter — it’s filled with tips, recipes, and exercise strategies to make the most of your weight-loss efforts.

Chew through a craving

Chew Through a Craving

It’s not newfangled or high-tech, but a pack of sugarless gum can be a great weight-loss tool. Chewing a stick of gum fills your mouth with a shot of flavor and rescues you from mindlessly munching when you’re bored or battling a craving. And the “price” you pay for this simple solution: a mere five calories a stick. Here’s even more good news: Chewing can actually burn an extra 11 calories an hour. Pop a piece in your mouth while you’re prepping dinner to save yourself from the extra calories folks typically gobble down while nibbling and tasting recipes.

Manage the munchies…with nail polish?!

Manage the Munchies…with Nail Polish?!

If you struggle with cravings when you know you’re not truly hungry (who doesn’t?), this clever “beauty tip” just might help you regain control. Distract yourself from the munchies by giving your nails a manicure (even if it’s just a fresh coat of clear polish). Once they’re perfectly painted, you won’t want to smudge wet nails by reaching into the bag for a handful of chips or cookies. By the time the polish has dried, chances are your urge to snack will have subsided.

Cut the cheese

Cut the Cheese

Cut the cheese…out of your diet. Regular cheese is high in fat, which means it’s very calorie-dense, and unfortunately most restaurants take a no-holds-barred approach when piling the stuff onto plates. Each deli slice on a sandwich costs you about 100 cals, and a generous layer of gooey, shredded mozzarella or cheddar atop a restaurant entrée could easily tack on 400 calories. Switch to reduced-fat varieties at home and order your sandwich, salad, or entrée sans cheese a few times a week when dining out to save yourself thousands of calories.

Spray, Don’t Pour

Spray, Don’t Pour

Use an oil mister instead of pouring oils freehand from the bottle when sautéing, roasting, and grilling. You’ll use far less in your cooking and save 120 calories for every tablespoon you trim. Plus, reusable misters are less expensive and more eco-friendly than disposable nonstick spray canisters. Pick up a mister at any home-goods store and fill it with a heart-healthy oil like olive or canola.

Strike starch at dinner

Strike Starch at Dinner

A fast way to torch extra calories at your PM meal is to cut out the starchy carbs like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. These foods are high in calories and notoriously easy to overeat, which means they can pile on the pounds over time. In place of the starch, have a small portion of lean protein, such as skinless chicken or fish, and load the rest of your plate with fiber-rich, nonstarchy vegetables like broccoli, green beans, spinach, kale, cauliflower, or carrots. This smart strategy will help you slash extra calories while filling up on nutritious produce!

Step up your incidental activity

Step Up Your “Incidental Activity”

The gym isn’t the only place you can burn calories. Everyday activities like taking the stairs, carrying your groceries, and parking farther from the store all count toward weight loss. You can also ramp up your general activity level by making a conscious effort to stop relying on your kids or spouse for free labor. Instead of asking someone else to answer the phone, turn off the light, get the mail, or toss you the remote, get up and do these tasks yourself. You’ll automatically move more, which means more calories burned day in and day out.


Eating less and moving more may be the basic tenets of weight loss, but there are plenty of extra steps you can take to give yourself an edge and increase your chances of success. From spicing up your food to painting your nails (yes, you read that right), here are ten fresh ways to keep that scale ticking downward at a healthy clip.