Every spring there is a whole group of people who frantically decide, once again, that they need to lose 10 – 20 or 30 pounds in just a few short weeks in order to fit into their summer clothes and “look good.” Not only is this type of thinking ridiculous, frankly, but it can also be dangerous as well.
Over time, this yo-yo dieting, where you quickly lose a few pounds only to gain them all back, plus a few more, damages the body more than simply being a little overweight. You see when you do a fad diet and take off more than the healthy recommended 2 pounds a week; you are losing muscle as well. When you regain the weight, you don’t regain the muscle you lost, you regain unhealthy fat. The fat does not limit itself to being deposited on your hips and thighs, though. It also gets deposited in your liver, around your heart and other internal organs, plus inside your arteries where it sits, just waiting to break off, travel to your brain, lungs, or heart, causing major damage, or even death.
Ways to discourage this yo-yo phenomenon is to exercise while changing your eating habits. Exercising will help build muscle, increasing your metabolism, and help you lose weight. It will help shape your body, also, as you shed that layer of fat that you’ve been encased in for so long. You may be surprised at the shape that emerges as the fat comes off.
You don’t have to get crazy in the exercise department either. Walking is a great way to get what you need, especially in the beginning. Try to walk for 30 minutes a day, four to five days a week while losing weight. Once you’ve lost all the weight you want, then maintain it by walking only three days a week.
If you want to add some muscles to increase the fat-burning metabolism, pick up a couple of cans of spaghetti sauce, and do some bicep curls. Do them slowly, with resistance up and down and start with perhaps three sets of 10 and work your way up. You don’t have to join a gym; you can find things around the house to help you. Go to a book store and just take a look. There are tons of books available to help you find what will work for you
Now for the “diet”. Get that word out of your head and never use it again! What you need to do is change your eating habits to a healthy lifestyle, one you will be able to live with for the rest of your life. Portion size is the most important thing. Just think, honestly, about the plate size they bring out when you are at your favorite restaurant. That mound of food could honestly feed two or three people, but there you are, eating every bit of it. Stop it!!! Learn to listen to your body again. Do you even remember what a real hunger pang feels like?
Eat slowly. Just when you start to feel like you have had enough, then stop! Put the fork down. Get up from the table and walk away. Listen to your body. It’s telling you, “Okay, I’m done. That’s enough. We’re good to go for now.” You may be surprised to find that in 10 – 15 minutes you aren’t hungry anymore. You feel satisfied and you aren’t left with that sick, stuffed to the gills feeling.
Now if you are hungry in two or three hours again, then good, go eat something. Yes, you read that correctly. Studies have shown that eating six small meals a day is better than eating three larger meals a day. Your metabolism stays revved up, you burn more calories and you don’t get that “Oh, I’m gonna starve to death feeling”.
Very cool, right? But, be careful of what you are eating. Yep, this is the catch. This is where the big changes need to be made. Throw out that worthless white bread. Get some wholesome whole grain bread with grains you can see. Try whole-grain pasta, Low carb taco bell, and brown rice instead of white. Basically, try eating food, not this processed junk that we have been eating for so long. Americans are FAT and this is why. We are dying of preventable diseases! We can fix this! Summer is such a great time for changing your eating habits. All those fresh fruits and veggies just waiting for you to try.
When eating healthy, I don’t advocate denying yourself much of anything. Just watch the portion size. Try using a smaller plate if that helps, and avoid, avoid, avoid fast food!! If you are a chocoholic like myself, buy a bag of dark chocolate and stash it somewhere and have a piece every day. Let it melt slowly on your tongue and enjoy the heck out of it.
Also, try limiting the amount of red meat you eat or pick the leaner cuts. Fish, three times a week is great for you because of the Omega3 oils and the heart protection it gives. Chicken without the skin, lean cuts of pork, broiled, barbequed, baked, or if you have to fry, use a small amount of olive oil, or a spray of non-stick cooking spray. You need the protein to help keep the hunger at bay.
Just remember, this is the way you will eat for the rest of your life. It can be fun learning new recipes and trying them out on your spouse. When you hit your goal, you may increase the portion size, just watch your weight carefully and if you gain three or more pounds, either increase your exercise time or decrease your portion size again.
You can do this and be a happier, healthier you. Not just for the summer, but for the rest of your life.