It’s the number one new year’s resolution because it’s, among other things, not very easy to do. It’s not the weight loss itself that’s difficult, it’s the changes, the choices we have to change that we prefer to keep as they are, that make the process difficult. But, if you think of weight loss in the context of baby steps, then everyone can do the following three things and lose weight this year (even with just about one quarter of the year behind us)!
1. Baby steps. Make one healthy choice this week. Instead of having dessert every night, cut it out during the week or on the weekend. The following week, make an additional change while keeping the first one. Maybe you can eat an apple instead of a bag of chips as part of your lunch.
This concept is backed by a study done by the National Institute of Health, which showed that people lost more weight and kept it off for longer periods of time when they made small, gradual changes to their lifestyles.
2. Skip commercials. I know that technology now often allows us to fast forward through commercials. However, for those of us who still have commercials to sit through, take the time to get your body moving. If you don’t see commercials anymore, just hit that pause button for a minute or two for a workout. Anyone can do a 1-2 minute workout, right? Do as many jumping jacks as you can in a minute. Attempt a few push ups. Jump rope.
Did you know that adding five minutes of exercise (cardiovascular) translates into burning 30 to 50 calories? Burning that many calories per day means potentially losing 4 pounds in a year. Just imagine what 10, 15, or 20 minutes a day could do.
3. Make your own lunch. Don’t go to the vending machine, or the fast food restaurant, or even the grocery store for a something quick and easy for lunch. Make your own. You’ll cut calories, sodium, and sugar because processed foods are full of all those obstacles to your weight loss. You’ll save money and feel better as a result.
What baby steps have you taken to lose weight?
With warmer weather comes the desire to lose weight and fit into that bathing suit in the back of our closet by summer. There are so many diets and diet options out there that it can be hard to choose the one best for us. Here are few it may be best to save your money and skip.
One of the easiest ways to lose weight is to pop a pill, but it’s not one of the safest. It doesn’t matter that it is being sold over the counter, or that they have slapped all natural over the label. If you insist on buying one of these diet supplements please talk to your doctor and pharmacist about using these items first. Ask about the possibility of interactions with other drugs or herbal supplements you are taking already. Last follow the directions on the bottle to the letter. Many of these diet pills require a certain diet and amount of water to be consumed during pill use. There are health reasons usually connected to these directions.
Food Systems and Food Replacement
These are systems that send you food, or require that you buy certain types of frozen dinners. Powdered supplements or weight loss shakes also fall into this area. The first thing you need to ask yourself about these items is if they will actually satisfy your food cravings. Will you eat/drink them only to find out your tummy wants so much more in a meal? There are actually plenty of low calorie foods that will satisfy your hunger. They will be good for the whole family to use and end up costing less than the shakes and frozen meals (and guilty pleasure snacks).
Lazy Exercise Devices
I’ll admit that sitting on the couch with a belt wrapped around my waist, electrocuting all the fat off of me sounds pretty good. Getting rid of water weight by using a body glove that makes me sweat more sounds good too. Neither is supposed to be used by itself. Both require true exercise in addition to the product. With that in mind, along with the quality of the device, it would be, in my opinion, better to just exercise without the fancy devices.
It may not seem like you will ever bare your arms or legs because spring appears to have been canceled across the nation this year, but spring and summer really are just around the corner. You will wear shorts and tank tops once again. While it’s popular to think about and actually do something to get in shape or get healthy at the beginning of the year, there really is no better time than the present to do whatever it is you want or need to do for your health. Even for those of us who tend to eat healthy and workout regularly, it doesn’t take very much to get out of our routine and find ourselves asking, “How did I used to keep in shape?” So, here are just a few little tips (and perhaps reminders) for weight loss and healthy living.
1. Know thyself. There’s not a cookie cutter workout or “diet” that is going to work for everyone. So, figure out what works best for you. Do you prefer working out in the morning or in the afternoon? Do you like to run on a treadmill or walk outside with the children? Do you tend to struggle with eating right at home or at work? Is your problem snacking throughout the day or eating larger portions at meal time? These are all critical questions to help you customize your fitness routine.
2. Reevaluate your kitchen. Until you can resist temptations in the kitchen, just go ahead and remove them. It’s easier to choose an apple over potato chips when there are no potato chips in the pantry. If you buy snacks for your family, perhaps you can buy them snacks that aren’t tempting for you. I don’t mind having organic cheese sandwich crackers in the pantry for my children because they don’t tempt me quite the same way as do chips and salsa. Choose what sits in your pantry wisely.
3. Enjoy your exercise. There are so many people who will tell you the best exercises to do, when to do them, and how long and how often to do those exercises. However, what matters the most is that you actually do exercise. So, find something you love to do. Run, walk, jump around to music in your living room, get a yoga DVD. Do what you will enjoy! That’s what will keep you going back for more.
What do you do to stay consistent with your fitness routine?
Years ago, when I was a member of a gym, I used to joke that the gym would finally be back to normal in March. We all know why. Those who had “resolved” to get fit got discouraged, didn’t see all the weight loss or fit-ness happen fast enough, or just gave up. Well, even if you are not a member of a gym, this is the time (if you did make a resolution) that your resolve, your motivation, your hope is tested. Don’t give up! Here are a few tips to help you maximize your weight loss in case you didn’t see the results you’d hoped for in the last two months.
1. Vary your workout. Be sure that whatever you consider your workouts include aerobic activity, strength training, and stretching. Cardio alone may not be sufficient for weight loss. Strength training builds muscle, and more muscle translates into better metabolism. So, be sure you’re working on building your strength at least twice a week. If you do the same workout every day, change it. Add weights. Increase weights. Add time. Add intensity. Do interval training. All those changes will change your workout, strengthen your muscles, and improve your ability to lose weight.
2. Watch those extra calories. Sometimes when we work out, we give ourselves the liberty to indulge more than we would when we are not working out. There’s not much room for indulging if you are trying to lose weight. If you want something special, then be sure to cut the equivalent number of calories elsewhere.
3. Exercise is not just what happens at the gym. Be careful not to let yourself get lazy the rest of the day. Let your workout time inspire you to keep moving. If you slow down from your normal pace, you may also cut the number of total calories you’d normally burn on any given day. So, take the stairs and park a little farther. The more you move, the more calories you’ll burn.
How do you maximize your workouts?
Health trends come and go so often that it can actually be difficult to keep up! Some trends last long enough that we may not question their veracity. So, here are a few health tips for those of us who are watching our weight, trying to eat healthy, and aiming to live healthy lifestyles.
1. “Diet” Foods. You know what I mean. It’s usually in the frozen section with a big label telling you how much fat and how many calories are in the tiny box that contains an entire meal. Or, maybe it’s a protein bar that’s supposed to take the place of a meal. In either case, the “diet” food is supposed to sate your hunger with fewer calories than a non-diet meal. There are problems with this type of food. First, most people are left unsatisfied and hungry. Next, it’s normally full of additives and preservatives that are simply not healthy for your body, even if you are not trying to lose weight. Last, our bodies burn more calories from real, whole foods than they do processed foods (probably because of all those preservatives). Go with real food. Stay away from processed foods, regardless of their labels.
2. Fat. For decades, we were told to avoid fat. Foods were labeled “low fat” and “fat free.” And if you grew up in my era, you equated “low fat” and “fat free” with “healthy.” But, in reality, our bodies need good fats, like the fat we get in avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and flax seed. That fat helps increase our metabolism, thereby helping burn more calories. We also tend to be more satisfied eating real foods with real fat than we do “low fat” foods. As a result, we actually eat less when we eat real foods with good fat.
3. Moderation. Moderation is important even if you are eating good, healthy food. It’s possible to overeat anything, even good, nutritious, healthy, whole foods. Listening to our bodies is critical. It’s great to replace your processed cereal with oatmeal for breakfast. However, it’s possible to eat too much oatmeal. It’s great to have smoothies for lunch. However, it’s possible to have too much.
How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
This is right about the time when most people give up, if they haven’t already, on a new year’s resolution to lose weight or to start working out. If you are in this huge category of people, consider some of the important elements that go into weight loss that sticks. If you want to get off of the weight loss roller coaster, consider these important factors.
1. Exercise. Often, people begin jogging or going to a gym at the beginning of the year because activities like those seem to be synonymous with a healthy lifestyle and weight loss. But, one of the most critical factors that contributes to your consistency is whether you enjoy doing that exercise or activity. Since the key is to incorporate an activity that works your heart, strengthens your muscles, and burns calories, there is not just one exercise that can accomplish those goals. So, make sure you find one you enjoy! That will help you with what counts the most: to keep doing it!
2. Food. There’s no getting around being very thoughtful and intentional about what you eat. Exceptions need to be just that: exceptions to the norm. Some people recommend keeping a food journal. That can help quite a bit because we often don’t keep track of ALL that excess calories we take in. Keeping a food journal for a while can help you become more aware of all the little extra calories you allow yourself without even thinking about it.
3. Attitude. Another very important part of long term change is our attitude toward and understanding of the reasons for that change. What is the purpose of the weight loss in your life? Is it merely to look good? Or, do you actually want to be healthy? If you are just looking at the numbers, it’s easy to get side tracked. You can get discouraged when the scale doesn’t move; you can also get lazy if you see the numbers you like. However, if the goal is to be healthy, then there’s no stopping, regardless of what the scale tells you.
How are you doing with your new year’s weight loss goals?
As January comes to a close, it might be a good time to check in on how you’re doing with your new year’s resolutions. And, since losing weight is usually up there on our lists, I thought I’d share a few tips just in case you could use a little encouragement.
Making Healthy Choices. I believe that making healthy choices is actually a more important goal than weight loss. There are a lot of unhealthy ways to lose weight. You could suffer short or long term consequences from losing weight by making poor health choices. And you will likely regain the weight you lost over time. However, making healthy choices as part of your weight loss plan will reap you far greater long term consequences. You only get one body, treat it right.
Look at labels. If you think about your body a little like you might think about your bank account, it would help you to make better choices. What do you want to deposit into your account: empty (and possibly hurtful) calories that are found in most processed foods and junk food or nutrient dense calories from whole foods that have not been processed. If you look at a label and find ingredients that you can’t pronounce or ones you can because you learned them in your science class, then put that box/jar/container right back down. You need a snack, grab an apple or a banana or even a healthy homemade baked treat that isn’t loaded with sugar and white flour. Put rich foods, not nutrient deficient foods, into that bank account called your body.
A note about exercise. I LOVE to exercise. I realize that makes some people mad. I’m not saying that I do it all the time; I don’t. (It’s hard with two little ones at home.) But I say that to say that while exercise is a healthy and possibly fun activity, it is not required for weight loss. If we are eating as we should, we should not HAVE to exercise to maintain. I’m not saying don’t exercise. Not at all. DO exercise. Find something you love to do and do it regularly. Enjoy it. Make it part of your lifestyle. But do not do it simply as a tool for weight loss. I say that because I know that sometimes we get injured or sick or you name it. If you rely on exercise, you WILL gain weight when you’re out of commission. However, if you make healthy choices as part of your lifestyle, then if you take a break from your exercise routing, for whatever reason, you can still maintain your weight. Realizing that helped me so much in my own journey.
You can do it. Every day is a new day. If you made bad choices yesterday, start over today. If you made bad choices at your last meal, start over at your next meal!
How are you doing with your new year’s resolutions?
Every January we are all inundated by weight loss ads everywhere. “Get your best body now!” is an ad that popped up on one of my screens recently. They all pretty much say the same thing. But they act like you can’t do it unless you pay someone for work out training, packages of food, coaching, or some sort of fancy app. Now, I do think that most of those things can be very useful. But I don’t believe that you need to pay to get in shape!
About a year after having our youngest child, I realized that after trying so hard to lose all the baby weight that year, I was still carrying a few post-baby pounds around. So, I got more intense and in the process got into the best shape I’ve ever been in… without spending a single dollar. You can do it, too!
1. Have Fun.
Find some way to exercise that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it just a little bit, you won’t be doing it for long. I began running. I love working out outside. It’s much more refreshing to me than running on a treadmill at the neighborhood recreational center. Maybe you don’t like running. Walk. Take your iPod or phone and play music. Honestly, I am not sure if I could even run one mile if I don’t have my music playing! It makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable.
2. Eat fat!
Yes, I said, “fat.” Studies show that eating good fats, like what you find in coconut oil, eggs, avocado actually helps boost your metabolism. One of the habits I started when I was trying to lose that baby weight was putting a spoon of coconut oil (or grass fed butter, when I happen to have it on hand) into my coffee every morning. It’ll help boost your metabolism in the morning. Plus, it tastes great! Some experts recommend getting good fat like that three times a day to keep your metabolism working for you all day. Don’t deprive yourself of food. Just eat whole, nutritious food that will satisfy you rather than processed foods that will fill you with calories and leave you hungry and looking for a snack in an hour.
3. Eat lots of raw fruit and vegetables.
They are great for your body but a lot of fruit and veggies require more calories to burn than they have. So, you can eat and burn calories at the same time.
There’s no reason why you have to pay for a program or a person to help you get in shape. You can do it and enjoy it. Enjoying it is one of the best motivations to making it a habit and not another failed resolution.
What do you do to get in shape?