Eating less and working out more is the key to losing or maintaining your weight. To some, this sounds rather intimidating. Here’s how maintaining your weight can be less of an intimidation and more like a lifestyle.
1. Cut calories without even noticing. It’s all about moderation and substitution – substitute fats (oils, dairy, sweets) and carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread) with vegetables and/or fruit. Vegetables and fruit still have carbohydrates but they provide more fiber which fills you up. For example, if you are having spaghetti for dinner, cut out about 1/2 cup of pasta and throw in some steamed veggies. Do the same with your cereal, take out 1/2 cup of cereal that you would normally eat and add in a handful of fruit. For your sandwiches, take off one slice of cheese and replace it with a tomato or fresh spinach. You don’t have to completely give up anything – just take out higher calorie foods and replace them with lower calorie foods.
2. Exercise more. People hear exercise and they think they need to hit the gym or lift some weights. Exercise is more than that – it’s going on a hard-core shopping spree, breaking a sweat while you clean the house, taking a dance class, going for a walk with your hunny after dinner, maintaining your garden or mowing the lawn and why not your neighbors too (riding mowers don’t count). It’s making what you do best into a work-out. My dad works an intense labor job – he’s an iron worker. He lifts heavy equipment throughout the day and keeps moving. When he gets home on most days, he continues to move as he maintains his garden or does other challenging yard work. He enjoys what he does plus he gets a work-out from it. The more you enjoy exercise, the more you’ll want to do it. Make it a lifestyle, not a job. Try and do some sort of physical activity for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week. Start by taking the stairs rather than the elevator when you get to work. Walk up a couple flights of stairs, then take the elevator. The next week, add-on a couple more flights of stairs and so on. Before you know it, you’ve walked up 50 flights of stairs! You don’t have to go for an intense run for 30 minutes every day. Instead, break it up into 10 minute intervals if you have to – during your lunch breaks, take a 10 minute walk and find a nice place to sit and enjoy your lunch instead of eating at your desk. Play outside with the kids for 10 minutes or go for a short walk after dinner. It all adds up, it all counts!
3. Use up more calories than you take in. If you cut calories and exercise more, you will lose weight. Here is one of the best ways to calculate the amount of calories you need in a day to maintain your weight.
Step 1: Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) NOTE: Your BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to function. We use about 60% of the calories we consume each day for basic bodily functions such as breathing.
655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
Step 2: Calculate your daily activity. In order to incorporate activity into your daily caloric needs, do the following calculation:
- If you are sedentary (very little to no exercise, rarely walk, much like a couch potato) : BMR x 20 percent
- If you are lightly active (walk often, do exercises such as gardening or yard work, exercise about 3 times a week) : BMR x 30 percent
- If you are moderately active (You exercise most days of the week, push yourself, stay on the move most of the day): BMR x 40 percent
- If you are very active (You exercise intensely on a daily basis or for prolonged periods.): BMR x 50 percent
- If you are extra active (You do hard labor or are in athletic training.): BMR x 60 percent
- Add Step 1 and Step 2 results together and you get the amount of calories you need in a day in order to maintain a healthy weight.If your goal is to lose weight, start by cutting 500 calories from that result. Never cut too many calories at once – a gradual weight loss is more successful. Cutting 500-1000 calories a day is ideal. As you lose weight, re-calculate your BMR and daily activity to get a new number.
4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Like I said above, replace some of your carbs and fats with fruit and vegetables. If you’re not a fan of fruits and veggies, dress them up. Sprinkle some cinnamon onto your apple, or some oregano and basil onto your veggies. Natural spices are wonderful when it comes to adding flavor to your food – they add natural antioxidants plus they replace fatty butter and oils.
5. Feel good about yourself. Go ahead, buy some new clothes, get a hair cut, soak up some rays or get a manicure. I’ve always felt that doing something to feel better about myself boosts my mood and gives me more energy. When you exercise, wear something fitting and comfortable. Dump the giant t-shirt and baggy basketball shorts – if you wear something more fitting to your body, you will be more confident in yourself. Confidence naturally boosts your mood. When I went jogging the other day, I was wearing a regular bra that kept falling off my shoulders, tights that were too big and a t-shirt that kept riding up on me. I kept fiddling with my clothes trying to stay comfortable, and I instantly got aggravated and couldn’t concentrate on my jog. I called it a day wishing I would have ran longer plus I didn’t feel like I got a good work-out.
6. Eat Breakfast every day. I can’t tell you enough how important breakfast is. This may seem almost impossible to you especially if you’re super mom and your morning consists of getting the kids up and ready for school and then helping Sally with your math homework that’s due in an hour. Breakfast helps boost your metabolism and it fills you up until your next meal. That way you won’t overeat later. Plan ahead to make to time for breakfast. Wake up an extra 20 minutes and make yourself a healthy breakfast before getting your day started. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and eat warm bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit or a toasted whole wheat bagel with light cream cheese. Having a little “you” time before taking on the day can relax your mind and give you more energy.
7. Fat Free is NOT the way to be. Just because the label says “fat-free” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s low in calories. When you see a food labeled “fat-free”, don’t think it’s OK to have multiple servings. The sugars and carbs in these foods have calories so you still need to watch your portion size.
8. Plan ahead to avoid eating fast food. Push yourself to cook and eat at home as much as possible. This is not only healthy, but it saves money too. The more you plan your meals for the week, the less likely you are to eat out. When you’re out and about, bring a granola bar with you or a light yogurt. Bring last nights dinner with you to work by sealing it in a Tupperware container. I made an effort to not eat out for over 6 weeks and I felt so much better. I had more energy, saved money and my body didn’t crave as many greasy foods and sweets as it did before. When I knew I would be out shopping all day, I ate a filling healthy meal before I left so I wouldn’t grab something while I was out. Ordering Chinese food or grabbing a pizza didn’t sound as good as it did before. I now eat out very rarely, where as before, I was eating out about 2-3 times per week. Once you make a commitment to eat better and avoid greasy fast food, you will feel better and your body will begin to resist bad foods. When you do eat out, order something healthy like a salad with no cheese and low-fat dressing, or a sandwich with whole wheat bread.
I can tell you all day to eat healthier and exercise more. The hard part is actually DOING IT. You have to want to change your lifestyle for the better. Many people know how to live a healthier life, they hear it and see it everywhere – on the news, in their favorite magazine or from a friend. They just can’t find the time or energy to actually do it. If you need any one-on-one health and exercise advice, please ask me, I would love to help. If you come to the decision to make these changes, you will lose weight and you will feel better.