Hot peppers

Those pounds need to scram—now—but you’re body’s just not cooperating fast enough. You eat right, never miss a yoga class and even turned down those drool-worthy mojitos at happy hour. Yet when you hop on the scale, you see little reward for your hard efforts. The problem could lie in your metabolism. After all, to lose two pounds a week you need to burn 1,000 more calories a day than you eat. And no matter how deeply you slash calories, that’s hard to do with a sluggish system. The good news is that you can boost your metabolism with some smart lifestyle changes, and finally lose weight faster.

1. Get your Zzzzs. It sounds crazy, but getting enough sleep could actually be more important than diet when it comes to weight loss. Scientists at Care Western University followed 70,000 women over 16 years. At the end of the study, women who slept fewer than five hours per night were 30 percent more likely to have gained 33 pounds than those who slept seven hours a night. They were also far more likely to be obese. And get this: the sleep-deprived group ate less–not more–than the good sleepers.

2. Lift weights. I used to shy away from the weight room at the gym, intimidated by giant, grunting bodybuilders and afraid of developing manly muscles. Then I got over it — and if you want to overhaul your metabolism, then so should you. Lifting weights can speed up your metabolism by up to 15 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not only will the pounds slip off faster, but you’ll fight muscle loss that comes with age, increase bone density to stave off osteoporosis and generally be a stronger, more badass mamacita. That weight room seems much more appealing now, eh?

3. Don’t deprive. You’re not doing yourself any favors by eating fewer than 1,200 calories per day, which spins your sysyem into energy-conservation mode. When you’re starved, your body expends less energy and tries not to burn fat. It’s a life-saving mechanism in times of famine, but can counteract your efforts when dieting. Besides, depriving yourself of food puts you in a foul mood and leads to malnutrition, so forget those restrictive fad diets.

4. Drink up. It’s not just an old wives tale—drinking cold water really can rev up your metabolism slightly. Research in Germany showed an increased burn of about 50 calories per day when participants downed 8 glasses of cold water. That alone isn’t enough for serious weight loss, but every little bit helps.

5. Seek heat. From food, that is. Eating hot peppers with your meal could increase metabolism by as much as 20 percent, according to WebMD. The bad news is that the boost is short-lived, and your metabolism will probably be back to normal within half an hour. Nonetheless, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles found that dieters who took a compound similar to capsaicin, the substance that gives chilies their heat, burned an extra 100 calories per day.

image: wormwould