Ditch 5 pounds without trying

This time of year, who wants to count calories or go on a diet? But you can keep your weight steady or even drop a few pounds without any special effort. Yes, really.

We’ve tapped some of the nation’s top health and fitness gurus (plus real women who have done it) for advice on getting slim effortlessly. Read on to learn their secrets.

Push yourself (just a little)

"If you ride the bus, walk part of the route," said Marcus Eave, personal trainer for Technogym. "If you walk, walk faster. If you run, run farther. These small tweaks will raise your body's metabolic rate, and you'll see a few pounds drop off in a few months without changing anything else!"

Think string cheese

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“Americans eat, on average, around 30 pounds of cheese a year!" said Samantha Heller, author of Get Smart: Samantha Heller’s Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health. "You can slash hundreds of calories a week if you stop eating whole cheese, which is high in saturated fat and sodium, and reach for low- or no-fat varieties or tofu to get your calcium.”

Power up your yogurt

“Eat Magical Breakfast Cream—combine 2 tablespoons finely ground zero-sugar cereal (such as Post Shredded Wheat Cereal), 2 teaspoons chopped walnuts, 4 tablespoons whole or 2% low-fat yogurt, 1 tablespoon organic lemon juice, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil—for five mornings in a row, plus fish, poultry, or eggs and tons of veggies for lunch and dinner," advised Mireille Guiliano, author of The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook. "Not only will you feel better, but you will shed up to 3 to 5 pounds in a week, while giving your body necessary nutrients and boosting your energy level."
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Catch some ZZZs

"Sleep at least 7 hours a night to help regulate the hunger hormone, ghrelin," said Dr. James Beckerman, author of The Flex Diet.  "Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who spent eight and a half hours in bed lost 55% more body fat than dieters who got five and a half hours of shut-eye. The more sleep you get, the less hungry you'll be, and the more likely you are to lose weight."

Be careful with your dough

"Lose the deli breakfast bagel and switch to a 100-calorie English muffin," said Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet. "You'll save 220 calories per day (1,540 per week!) and drop about a pound in two weeks, or about 5 pounds in 10 weeks."

Downsize the dairy

“I recently lost seven pounds in three weeks by ditching most dairy from my diet," said 31-year-old Michelle Buffardi of New York City. "Of course, I couldn’t totally give up cheese, so I just limit it to weekends or special occasions. No more late-night grilled cheeses for me!”

Go (a bit) vegan

“I started eating one veggies-only meal each day, and after three weeks, I noticed that my clothes fit better," said Candice Townsend, 39, from Washington D.C.

Grab a mini

"When I'm in the mood for a little fast-food 'cheat,' I order the kids meal, saving myself around 570 calories. The portions are reasonable, and the sides are healthier," said Laura Schmieg, 38, from St. Louis Park, Minn.

Take a stand

“When I want to lose an inch around my waist fast, I stay on my feet. I walk home from work, stand up while watching TV, and go for a stroll at lunch," said 29-year-old Naomi Fink from New York City.