Thursday, October 30, 2008

Start Losing Weight Today!

I'll start my diet on Monday. How many times have you told yourself that? Right after New Years', I swear. Tomorrow. Are you tired of hearing yourself say the same old excuses day after day, month after month, year after year? If so, listen up! Here are five things you can do to start losing weight today!

Activate.

The most important ingredient in your weight loss plan is exercise. If you think that's a dirty word, it's time to clean it up. Exercise is just what you do every time you move. Starting today, resolve to activate your life. Leave the car keys behind and walk to the corner store.

Race yourself to get your housework done in ten minutes less time (because the more vigorous your movement, the more calories you burn). Get off the elevator one floor early and walk up the stairs. Every extra active thing you do will burn calories - and the more calories you burn, the more weight you'll lose.

When you're ready to really activate, get a physical workout designed with your interests in mind. Join a gym, take up a sport, or walk 10,000 steps a day. But don't wait until you think you can do it all. Just take a few extra steps today.

Motivate.

Grab a pen and notebook and start writing down all the reasons you should lose weight. Don't stop till you get to ten, at the very least. Here are some suggestions:

1. I’ll be healthier - losing as little as 10 pounds can decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes and a host of other weight-related illnesses.

2. I’ll save money. Super-size costs more - whether it's an extra $2 for the nightgown you want or having to travel first class for the seat space.

3. I’ll be able to keep up with my kids. It takes energy to keep up with kids, and extra weight saps your energy. Lose ten pounds and see how much better you feel.

4. I’ll get back into my favorite jeans.

5. I’ll find souvenir t-shirts that fit anywhere I go.

Cogitate.

Got your ten reasons? Don't stop writing. Keep that pen and notebook with you all day and write down every single thing you put into your mouth. Just for one day. You'll be surprised at all the 'unexpected' calories you catch yourself eating. The last two French fries on your son's plate. The two bites of chicken you tasted to make sure of the seasoning. The 'just one bite' of your husband's ice cream cone. The handful of potato chips you snagged from the bowl on your way by. Write down every single bite for one day to make yourself aware of all the food that you didn't even realize you were eating. Once you find it, you can start cutting it out.

Educate.

Take a trip to the Internet and visit these educational sites:

The American Heart Association

The USDA Food Pyramid

iVillage Diet and Nutrition section

The Diet Channel

The South Beach Diet web site

The Atkins Diet web site

The Mayo Clinic web site's Diet and Nutrition pages

Educate yourself about healthy diets and weight loss, and find a diet that you believe you can live with for the rest of your life. It's the only way that you'll lose weight and keep it off permanently.

Salivate.

If you think that diet food is boring, find a good low-fat cookbook and start re-educating your taste-buds. Healthy, low-fat, low-carb cooking is delicious - prove it to yourself with a recipe for dinner. While you're at it, pick one for tomorrow night, too. You can start your diet AGAIN

tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Steps To a Trimmer You

Want to lose 35 pounds a year without changing a thing about your diet? All it takes is 10,000 steps. No, that's not a typo. Just 10,000 steps a day can burn enough calories to take off 35 pounds in a year.

I first heard about the 10,000 steps when I took a vacation with my mother last summer. As we left the house that morning for a day of sight-seeing with my two boys, she clipped a pedometer to her belt. Periodically throughout the day, she checked it, and as I settled to relax on a park bench toward the end of the day she remarked, "I'm just going to walk around the park twice. I only have 500 more steps to go."

The secret is walking. By walking 10,000 steps a day, you can burn as many calories as you do when you do any of the following:

- Swim for 90 minutes

- Ride a bike for 70 minutes

- Play 10 holes of golf (without the cart)

- Walk 50 blocks

- Play soccer for 90 minutes

- Work for two hours in your garden

How do you fit in 10,000 steps? You can count every step you take during the day - my mother clips on her pedometer first thing in the morning and takes it off last thing at night. Add in extra steps to your day with any of the following suggestions:

- Park at the far end of the lot at the mall and walk to the stores.

- Leave your car at home and walk to work. Or park three blocks further away in the morning and walk the rest of the way.

- Walk the dog! He'll love you for it.

- Walk up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator.

- Get up and get it yourself. Instead of asking one of your kids to fetch something for you, take a little walk. You'll be surprised how much those little trips add up.

- Go sightseeing. You'll surprise yourself by freshening up your perspective on your home town at the same time.

- Walk to the store. If you're just running out to pick up milk, leave the car at home and take a walk.

- Stuck on the phone? Walk and talk at the same time. You can easily do 2000 steps during a 15 minute phone call.

Don't worry about your speed - the idea is to get moving. In fact, doctors say, if you're puffing too hard to say hi to a friend, you're walking too hard. Slow down a little. At the ideal pace you should be able to carry on a conversation, but not belt out a song.

10,000 steps may seem a little daunting at first, but just keep in mind that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lace up those walking shoes, and let's go!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Strategic Weight Loss

One of the first things that you'll do when you decide to lose weight is to set a goal weight. For most, that goal will be their 'ideal weight', but for many, that 'ideal weight' may be exactly the wrong weight for them to be aiming for.

Years of dieting or being overweight have the physiological effect of moving the body's concept of the 'ideal weight' from what is truly considered ideal. The 'set point' is the weight at which your body naturally feels most comfortable.

If you've been overweight for a very long time, or if you've consistently 'yo-yoed', your body may respond to your initial weight loss by lowering its metabolism because it believes that you are starving to death. This slowing leads to discouraging plateaus that often knock people off their diets entirely, and lead to regaining all or part of the lost weight.

Instead of aiming for an 'ideal weight' that calls for you to lose weight steadily for months or even years, many experts recommend aiming for shorter-term attainable goals. Since the bulk of diet research shows that most dieters lose weight steadily for about 12 weeks, then hit a plateau, that's the number that they suggest you aim for. The strategy that many have found works best for them is one of alternating periods of weight loss and maintenance, each lasting 8-12 weeks.

Choose a realistic amount of weight that you can lose in 8-12 weeks. Figuring that the most reasonable and healthiest weight loss rate is 1-2 pounds per week, 30 pounds in three months is not unreasonable. Diet until you reach that goal, or for 12 weeks, whichever comes first, and then switch to a maintenance diet.

Why switch to a maintenance diet at that point? In part, you're giving yourself a 'breather', a break from more restrictive eating. The other part, though, is that you're re-educating your body and letting it establish a new 'set point'. Once you've maintained your new weight for 8-12 weeks, set another weight loss goal, and move back into weight loss mode. By giving your body a break from 'starvation', you'll have overcome its resistance to losing more weight, and be back to dieting for 'the first two weeks' - the weeks that most people lose weight more rapidly.

You'll also be giving yourself a chance to 'practice' maintaining your new, healthier weight. Researchers have found that more than half of the dieters who take off significant amounts of weight do not maintain that weight loss once they go 'off' their diet. By practicing weight maintenance in stages, you'll be proving to yourself that you CAN do it, and removing a powerful negative psychological block.

This will work with any long-term weight loss diet, no matter the focus. You'll find it much easier to do if you choose a diet that has concrete 'phases', like the South Beach or the Atkins, since the weight loss and maintenance phases are clearly laid out for you to follow. Regardless of the diet you choose, though, by alternating between weight loss phases and maintenance phases, you'll teach yourself and your body how to maintain a healthy weight.