I’ll never be on the “The Biggest Loser”. I’ll never be able to tell you my inspiring weight loss story. That’s because during the 30 years of my adult life, I’ve been a weight maintainer. No, I’m not one of those people who can eat whatever I want and stay thin and fit. I work hard at it, just like many of you. Over the various stages of my life, I’ve had to adjust. I like to say that If I was a car, I had to make the switch from “regular” gas to “high octane” at about 21. All of a sudden, the teenage “eat what you want” diet didn’t work anymore and I was slowly, but surely gaining weight. Then in my 30’s I had to adjust again to “post baby body” and up my exercise to more than just a brisk walk around the neighborhood with the stroller or a wagon full of daughters. And at 47, it was time to add some serious resistance training to combat the muscle loss of aging. Now I’m working to tweak my diet again to find what works best post menopause. I’ve pulled the best information I have gathered over the years into my top ten 10 for weight control. If you are struggling to lose weight and get in shape, these tips will help you with your journey.
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- Keep track: I know some experts will tell you not to weigh yourself. They are right if you are the kind of person who goes into deep depression if you gain a pound from one day to the next. You DO need to keep track of where you are at, however. Otherwise weight can creep up on you when you don’t realize it. You’ll need to find a way that works best for you. Take your measurements each week. Put on your favorite pair of jeans once a week and take note of how they fit. Here’s what works for me. I have a “weight window” of 10 pounds, with a low end and a high end. I weigh myself each day. As long as I am “in the window” it’s all good. If I go too low, time to eat some more nutrient dense, healthy food (not junk). If I go above the window, I know it’s time to create a negative calorie balance by cutting some calories and adding some more activity.
- Keep moving: This is one of the biggest problems Americans have. We sit too much! We sit at work, we sit at home. You will still get hungry, even if you don’t expend calories and then you gain weight. No movement means muscle atrophy (they go away). Muscle tissue burns more calories than body fat, which leads to a vicious weight gaining cycle. Make yourself move. Park and walk, take the stairs, take a break from your desk.
- Drink water: Your body craves it, but you consistently do not give it enough. It can’t function properly if you don’t hydrate it. Sugary drinks (can you say frappucino?) give you absolutely nothing except excess sugar and calories. A soda should be a treat, not a staple of your regular diet.
- Eat breakfast: I can’t stress this one enough. Breakfast jump starts your metabolism for the day. If you don’t eat breakfast, by 10:30 your starved and shoving anything into your mouth that will fill your belly. You don’t make good decisions eating that way.
- Cut your sugar intake: Sugar is linked to diseases like diabetes and cancer. Processed sugar is nothing but empty calories. It’s in A LOT of the foods we eat that you don’t think of as a sugary food, like bread and spaghetti sauce. Read the food labels and make wise choices.
- Stick to complex carbs: These are things like brown rice, 100% whole wheat breads, sweet potatoes and quinoa. Refined carbs pack on the pounds. Think of the color white (white bread, white rice, white flour, white sugar) and highly processed foods (crackers, cookies, chips, donuts, etc.). They fill your belly, but they are low on nutrients. They spike your insulin level and then when it dips later, you crash. You’re tired and hungry and guess what your body will crave? More refined carbs.
- Eat Clean Foods: What are clean foods? These are foods in their most natural state. An orange, an apple, a carrot. These are clean because they come straight from the tree or the ground. Lean meats and whole grains are minimally processed. Things that come in boxes, bags and cans are more processed. Foods that have the word “refined” in the ingredients label are highly processed. Fill your diet with clean foods and cut back on highly processed foods.
- Resistance Train: It doesn’t HAVE to be weightlifting, but you will lose muscle as you age unless you work at keeping what you’ve got. That means your muscles need to get a workout on a regular basis. Body weight, resistance bands, medicine balls, dumbbells, kettlebells and weight machines are all ways you can resistance train. More muscles mean more of a calorie burn. You will also look leaner, even if you weigh a little more.
- Do what you like when it comes to exercise: Find activities you enjoy. You won’t stick with it if you don’t like it. If you get tired of something, change it up! Variety is the spice of life, so take part in several activities you like. Right now, I’m into walking, cycling, pickleball, and kettlebell workouts. I also love to kayak when I get the chance!
- Get an accountability partner: You need a workout buddy! It should be someone who will encourage you on the days you don’t feel like doing anything. It should also be someone who will celebrate your accomplishments with you and be understanding when you have a setback WITHOUT letting you give up.
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