How to Lose Weight
That depends. Determining your right weight takes several things into account:
(1) your body mass index, or your weight in relation to your height;
(2) the location and amount of body fat you have; and
(3) your overall health and risks for weight-related problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Body mass index (BMI):
Body mass index (BMI) is a metric based on body weight compared to your height that measures how much your weight affects your health-related weight risks. It doesn’t weigh body fat straight away. There is no difference in age ranges of BMI weights for adults; health risks appear to be the same regardless of age. The same grid applies to both men and women.
How much of your weight is body fat, not necessarily where you ﬁt on any chart, is an important part of evaluating your weight. In fact, the location and amount of body fat may predict your weight-related health risk more than bodyweight alone. For example, a person’s BMI may ﬁt right within the healthy range, but he or she still may carry too much body fat. Conversely, a muscular person may seem to be at increased risk according to charts,
but may not be overfat.
Weight Management: Strategies That Work!
If you’re at your healthy weight, these strategies for weight management are meant for you, too.
Caution: If your weight problem is excessive—too much or too little—or if you have health problems, talk to your doctor before you get started. Children, pregnant women, those with chronic diseases, and people over age sixty-ﬁve shouldn’t attempt weight loss without advice from their health professional.
Whether your objective is weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance, lifelong success depends on some new ways of thinking.
For weight loss or gain, follow these tactics:
- (1) healthful eating, (2) regular physical activity, and (3) acceptance of the weight you can achieve through healthy eating and a healthful lifestyle.
- Set realistic, attainable goals—for you! Start with your current weight or lifestyle, not where you want to be. The challenge of trimming 5 pounds at a time may seem more doable than losing 25 or more pounds.
- Focus on a healthful lifestyle—for a lifetime—not on “dieting.” Dieting alone is often a short-term tactic without long-term results. The concept of “dieting” carries negative baggage: guilt, “shoulds,” and “can’t have.” For most people, “dieting” results in failure.
- Focus your strategies: action-oriented and speciﬁc. Perhaps you’ll walk for 15 minutes each day during your break, or you’ll drink low-fat or fat-free milk rather than a milkshake with your fast-food lunch.
- Tailor your strategies to your schedule, your budget, your family situation, and your personal needs, to name a few. Experts have found that two out of three people who were successful at weight control personalized their efforts to ﬁt their lifestyles.
- Think long-term; act gradually. Fasting and starvation-type diets can peel off pounds, but most of the weight that’s lost quickly is only water loss, which will come back as fast as it’s lost. Grueling exercise regimens may tone the body, but for most people, these tactics aren’t realistic ways to live—and are not healthful, either.
- Instead of trying quick ﬁxes, plan for a gradual weight shift of 1⁄2 to 1 pound a week. That’s safe and healthy. With any more weight loss, you may be exercising too much or eating too little.
Don’t need daily workouts.
- To beneﬁt from active living, you don’t need to be an exercise fanatic with strenuous daily workouts. Step aerobics at a ﬁtness club, kickboxing, or thirty min- utes on an exercise bike every day may not be right for you. That’s okay; any kind of moderate, consistent physical activity can do the job. In fact, any activity you enjoy and stay with can be the right one for you. If it’s enjoyable, you’re more likely to stick with it.
- Do it all at once, or spread it out: for example, ten minutes of brisk walking during your lunch hour, ﬁfteen minutes of leisure bike riding, and ﬁve minutes of sidewalk sweeping at home. If you haven’t been physically active, then build up gradually. Get a pedometer to count your steps; work up to 10,000 steps a day. Even a little more physical activity can make a difference.. As you exercise and burn more calories than you consume, your body draws energy from all its fat stores, including the problem spots. If you keep on moving, fat will eventually disappear in all the right places. The good news: eating for weight control and for good health are one and the same. A simple food plan with physical activity, based on MyPyramid, can accomplish both goals.
advise: For those who need to lose weight, aim for slow, steady weight loss by decreasing calorie intake while maintaining an adequate nutrient intake and increasing physical activity.
Look at your eating habits.
- Rethink your old ways of eating—and identify those habits that promote weight gain. Consider what, when, why, where, and how you eat. Then, if you need to, make some changes.
- Plan meals and snacks ahead. Haphazard eating often becomes high-calorie eating. Pack low- calorie snacks, such as raw vegetables, to eat at work when others snack on candy, doughnuts, or chips.
- Shop on a full stomach to help avoid the temptation to buy extra goodies or to nibble on free samples. Write out your shopping list when you’re not hungry.
- Eat slowly. Savor the ﬂavor of each bite. After all, it takes about twenty minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you’re full—which curbs your urge for a second helping. Slow down by putting down your fork between bites. Eat with chopsticks if they slow you down. Sip, rather than gulp, beverages. Swallow before reﬁlling your fork.
- Eat when you’re hungry; stop when you’re full. Learn body signals for fullness and real hunger. Forget the “clean plate club.” You don’t need to eat everything on your plate if you’re satisﬁed.
- Sit down to eat, rather than nibble while you do other things. Focus on your food. That way you know that you’ve eaten.
- Make eating the only event—and enjoy it. Eat- ing unconsciously while you watch television, read, talk on the phone, or drive may lead to eating more than you think.
- Stick to a regular eating schedule. (There’s no hard-and-fast rule about eating three meals a day.) Studies show that missed meals can lead to impulsive snacking and overeating and may lower the rate at which your body burns energy. Eat breakfast!
- Eat from plates, not from packages. When you nibble chips or crackers from a package or snack on ice cream from the carton, you don’t know how much you’ve eaten. It may be more, much more than you think!
- Serve pre portioned sensible amounts of foods on the dinner plate. You’ll likely eat less. Use smaller bowls and dinner plates so small portions look like more. See “Get Portion Savvy” earlier in this chapter for more on portion control.
- Choose foods that take more time to eat. For example, peeling and eating an orange takes longer than drinking a glass of orange juice
- Stop eating when you leave the table. Avoid the urge to nibble on leftovers as you clean up.
- When you get the urge to nibble (especially if you’re not hungry), do something else. Jog, call a friend, walk the dog, or step out into your garden
- Be aware of the inﬂuence of others. You don’t need to eat cake, mufﬁns, or bagels in the break room just because your mate brought it to work.
Eating habits must follow during weight lose
You have all the best intentions. Then something triggers your desire to eat—even though you’re not hungry Find an appropriate diversion. Limit temptations whenever possible.
- Do you eat when you’re bored or stressed? Find some other options. Make a list of fun activities: enjoy your garden, play with the dog, go shopping, call a friend, surf the Internet, or play with your kids. Post your list on the refrigerator. When you’re bored or upset, pick one of these activities instead of eating. See “Emotional Overeating: Take Control!” above.
- Be aware of social situations that trigger eating such as parties, entertaining friends, dating, talking around the coffee pot at work, and happy-hour business meetings. Create your ways to avoid overeating.
- Remember: Out of sight, out of mind. If the sight of candy, chips, and other high-calorie foods lures you, store them in an inconvenient place. Better yet, don’t keep them around. Instead of stock up on fruit, raw vegetables, and other foods with fewer calories.
- Accomplished something special? Reward your- self, but not with food. Treat yourself to a massage or a day spa. Buy something new to wear or read, or something to entertain you.
- Watch out for seasonal triggers: perhaps nibbling while watching fall and winter sports on television, “cooling off” in hot weather with a few beers or an extra-large soft drink, or eating and entertaining during the holidays. Or eat smaller portions or different foods if only eating will do. If you’re not sure what triggers your eating, keep a food diary for a week or two. “Dear Diary . . .” on page 40 offers some help.
These party tips can help you hold the line
Just because you’re trying to eat healthfully doesn’t mean you need to avoid celebrations, even traditional holiday fare—it can ﬁt into a healthful eating plan for the calorie-conscious.
- Balance party eating with other meals. Eat small, lower-calorie meals during the day so you can enjoy celebration foods, too—without overdoing your energy intake for the day.
- Take the edge off your hunger before a party. Eat a small, low-fat snack such as fruit or whole-grain toast. Feeling hungry can sabotage even the strongest willpower!
- When you arrive at a party, avoid rushing to the food. Greet people you know—conversation is calorie-free! Get a beverage, and settle into the festivities before eating. You may eat less.
- Ask for sparkling water and a lime twist rather than wine, champagne, or a mixed drink. Sparkling water doesn’t supply calories.
- Move your socializing away from the buffet table. When conversations take your attention away from food, unconscious nibbling becomes too easy.
- Make just one trip to the party buffet. And be selective. Choose only the foods you really want to eat, and keep portions small. Often just a taste satisﬁes a craving or curiosity.
- Opt for lower-calorie party foods. Perhaps enjoy raw vegetables with a small dollop of dip, just enough to coat the end of the vegetable. Try boiled shrimp or scallops with cocktail sauce or lemon. Go easy on fried appetizers and cheese cubes.
- If you’re bringing a dish, make it healthfully delicious—and low-calorie, too. That way, you’ll know there’s something with fewer calories you can munch on. Perhaps bring raw vegetables with a yogurt or cottage cheese dip, or bring a platter of juicy, fresh fruit.
- Enjoying a sit-down dinner party? Make your ﬁrst helping small—especially if your host or hostess expects you to take seconds. The total amount may be about the same as your normal-size portions.
- Forget the all-or-nothing mindset. Depriving yourself of special holiday foods, or feeling guilty when you do enjoy them, isn’t a healthful eating strategy. And deprivation and guilt certainly are not part of the holiday spirit!
- Have fun! Sharing food at many celebrations and enjoying a traditional holiday meal and party foods with family and friends don’t need to destroy healthful food habits you nurtured all year.