The average American woman is 5-foot-4 and weights 164 pounds; this calculates into a BMI (body mass index) of 27%. Her male counterpart is 5-foot-9 and 194 pounds, with a BMI of over 28%. Both are classified as overweight, bordering on obese.
[box type=”note”]Despite a public outcry to eliminate obesity and head off its serious consequences of heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer, stroke and diabetes, few people really know how to eat well and maintain a healthy weight. Fewer know how to make the adjustments necessary to shed the extra pounds.[/box]
Best iPhone Apps for Weight Loss
Notice I did not say diet. The word diet is defined as â€œrestricting oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.â€ Â Anything that is restrictive is fraught with frustration, despair and ultimately, failure. Research indicates that over 90% of dieters will regain their weight loss within three years. However, those who make strategic lifestyle changes will eventually lose more weight and keep it off.
In truth, with proper guidelines, you can learn to lose weight and still eat virtually anything you want. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a wealth of information on how to reduce your caloric intake, create realistic portion sizes and plan meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat food choices. There are also a variety of printable shopping guides, calorie calculators and meal planners and a many downloadable apps for your phone, which can help get you started.
The first step is to establish your personal goals for weight loss. Be realistic. If you have more than 20 pounds to lose, set mini goals: â€œI will lose one dress size by New Yearâ€™s.â€Â Before beginning, it is also important to acknowledge that the habits that caused this weight gain must be changed and this will not happen overnight. Reward yourself with each mini-goal you achieve. A manicure, a new golf club or tickets to a concert can be real motivators.
However, avoid food rewards and remember that after the first week (where you may lose close to five pounds due to water weight), expect to lose just one-two pounds a week, or ten pounds a month. The closer you get to your optimal weight, the harder it will be to shed the pounds. (If you fall into the category of obese, or have an underlying health condition, contact your physician before beginning any weight loss plan.)
Five Strategies to Incorporate into Your Daily Routine for a Healthy Lifestyle:
1. Keep Track of What You Eat:
The best way to actualize your daily food intake is to write it down. There are many printable food journals, which include tallies for the empty calories found in beverages, condiments, salad dressings and toppings. Write down everything you eat and drink. Most journals have a section for notes; if you find yourself craving certain foods, or you strayed from your plan, write down the circumstances surrounding the incident. You will be surprised to see what you learn about your eating habits.
2. Break Your Bad Habits:
A healthy lifestyle includes three meals and a minimum of two snacks per day. Skipping meals or eating on the run leads to bad choices; fast foods that contain more carbohydrates, fats and sodium than the same foods prepared at home. While preparing dinner, sip from a tall glass of water, or herbal tea. This will decrease your urge to snack. Also, keep a bag of cleaned and peeled vegetables or fruits on hand, to munch as you cook. Theyâ€™ll fill you up, without piling on the calories. If you work late, prepare multiple meals in advance and freeze them in proportioned containers; itâ€™s a fast and healthy alternative to frozen foods.
3. Draw a Picture:
Visualize what a sensible dinner plate looks like; divide the dish in quarters, fill one half with fresh or cooked fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with three ounces of a lean protein (beef, chicken, pork or turkey) and one-quarter with one half cup of pasta, rice, bread or potato. To approximate a serving size, draw a comparison to common a household item: a three ounce steak or chop is the size of a deck of cards or a bar of soap and has 160 calories; three ounces of skinless chicken breast has 128 ounces.
A portion of fish should equal the size of a checkbook; three ounces of broiled tilapia has just 82 calories. Other cues: one half cup of rice or pasta is the size of a tennis ball; a serving of vegetables should be equal to the size of a baseball. A slice of bread (80 calories) and six ounces of fruit juice (90 calories) are all considered a serving size.
4. Get Up and Move:
Cutting down on portions is just one part of weight loss. Adding 30-45 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week will burn 300 additional calories a day. Most effective forms of exercise can be done right in your own neighborhood, without joining a gym. Walking and running can be done in your local park, school or shopping mall. Add ten minutes of stair climbing to your routine for a loss of an additional 100 calories. When weather permits, park your car at the end of parking lot, to add extra steps to your day.
5. Drink Plenty of Water:
The average person should consume more than one-half gallon (eight cups) of water daily. While caffeine free and sugar-free beverages contain water, it is generally recommended that half of your daily fluid intake come from water. Consuming a glass of water before and with each meal will help to achieve a feeling of fullness and aid in digestion. Those participating in a fitness routine should also drink water before, during and after exercise.
Once you decide incorporate these changes, donâ€™t procrastinate. There will always be occasions that will require you to make good choices. Weddings, holidays, business trips and stressful situations may result in temporary setbacks. Donâ€™t allow them to snowball into abandonment of your weight loss plan. Acknowledge the slip-up and move on.
Wake up and begin making smart choices the very next day. Walk an additional 10 minutes, avoid trigger foods, trade the buttered bagel (approximately 400 calories) for a low-calorie English muffin with pumpkin butter (135 calories), and the turkey sandwich for a sensible salad. In other words, immediately refocus on your long-term goal â€“ to become slimmer and healthier.