Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beat the bulge

Piggybacking on yesterday's "Fight the Fad" post, I thought I would share how I personally beat the bulge while fighting the fads. Fad diets that is. Bear with me, this is a long one but so worth the read...

One of my favorite sayings is "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Think about it. It’s true. When you are thin, you feel amazing. You can be more active. You don’t get tired as easily. You have more confidence. You love to shop more. You want to be more social. But how we go about getting thin is what matters most.
I’ll confess – My closet is filled with size 24 jeans that I frankly couldn't get my left butt cheek into these days. Yes, I’m pregnant now but they hung unworn for quite some time beforehand. I would shimmy into them and spend far too long doing lunges around my house to loosen them up. All that work and I still couldn't breathe. We've all been there. But sadly I beat myself up mentally over the fact that they didn't fit. I felt like I was failing myself. I felt like that stupid size zero defined who I was. I'm not gonna lie - I was tempted to fall victim to some sort of quick fix to get me back into them. How easy that would have been? A Slim Fast shake for breakfast and lunch then a sensible dinner. Piece of cake. But I didn't. I just kept them in my closet as motivation. According to “The Slaves to Fashion” article in Glamour magazine, I’m not alone either. The average woman has 12 items of clothing- worth more than $450 - languishing in her closet unworn because they're either too big or too small. 52% of the ladies polled between the ages of 18-65 said they have intentionally bought clothes that were too small in the hope they will fit into them one day. You better believe that I have high hopes for this body after baby #2. Maybe I won't be a 24 ever again but at least those jeans will be a reminder of all the hard work and determination that I put in back in the day. Key word – HARD WORK. Not fad dieting. My hard work has never failed me.

Unfortunately, there's no denying that I'm not getting any younger. I have to work double as hard to see the same results. And it's draining. All you older ladies (30+) know what I’m talking about. My metabolism, against my will, is slowing down. I’m a mother without a nanny, housekeeper, or personal assistant so I don't have 5 hours to devote to working out like I wish I could. I don't have a personal trainer. I don't have a cook to prepare any special meals. So with all these things against me, how do I beat the bulge? Simply put - the best diet is no diet at all. You should eat to live, not live to eat and make exercise a priority. In theory, it's super simple. But in reality, it's not. Aside from the physical aspect of shedding pounds, you need to train yourself mentality to make it a lifestyle. Below are some daily reminders that work for me:

1) Maintaining your weight is a numbers game. Calories in - calories out. Theoretically, about 3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight. This means that you'd have to take in 3,500 fewer calories than you usually do, over a period of time, to lose one pound. By cutting or burning 500 calories a day (a total of 3,500 per week), and otherwise eating a balanced diet, you may find you lose approximately a pound a week. This rate of weight loss is considered reasonable and healthy.

2) You need to COMMIT to making fundamental changes to your overall lifestyle — including how you eat and HOW YOU EXERCISE. Making these changes requires a longer-term vision of your health and fitness goals — something that requires commitment beyond “going on a diet” to get ready for your island vacation. Fad diets are notorious for eliminating exercise as part of the weight-loss plan. Reality check - you need to get your metabolism rev'ing to burn calories. You must carve out some time in your day (even if it’s 30 min) and make it a PRIORITY to get your butt moving. You don't need a fancy gym. You don't need all the classes. Stick with the basics. If you know there just isn't any way you're gonna fit in a workout, park further from the store so you have to walk longer. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Do sit-ups and push-ups during the commercial breaks. Put it on your list and make it happen.


3) Be strict on how you order in a restaurant. Restaurant portions have become so large that they are generally 2-3 times larger than servings recommended by the American Dietetic Association. Excess has sadly become the norm in America. It's no wonder the U.S. has become the fattest country in the world. Ask for condiments on the side. Do not become part of the "Clean Plate Club." Spot the fat traps - "fried," "battered," "cheesy." Ask for grilled and light oil. Resist the temptation of the chips. If you want some bread, ask for Balsamic Vinegar instead of lathering on the butter.

4) Remember…"A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” In a study in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that cookies are 700% bigger than USDA standards. Our perception is so distorted. Practice good portion control. This doesn't mean you have to restrict yourself entirely of it. Just eat in moderation. Don't plop on the couch with the bag of whatever; put it in a bowl. Eat on a salad plate if you don't have good will power. Limit yourself to one helping. AND DON’T THINK THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU WORKED OUT, YOU CAN EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT. You can’t justify your bag of M&M’s because you worked out. Remember it’s a numbers game. If you only burned 150 calories on the treadmill but then followed it up with a 250 calorie bag of candy, you might as well not even worked out.

5) Live with the mindset, “Out of sight out of mind.” Clean out the kitchen pantry and eliminate all junk food. Toss out high-calorie, high-fat foods that will tempt you to overeat - chips, cookies, crackers, ice cream, candy bars, etc. And then just DON'T buy it. Simple. If you have kids, make a "Kid's Cupboard" that in your mind, doesn't exist.

6) Do not drink your calories. This will save you hundreds of calories. Water is always best but the flavored waters have zero calories as do unsweetened teas. Remember fruit juices, regular sodas, beer, cocktails and wine can add more than 100 extra calories to your meal depending on the quantity and the drink of choice. Did you know a restaurant margarita can pack 750 calories? Ouch.

7) Don't grocery shop hungry, stick to your list & make sure you shop primarily in the perimeter aisles of your store. If you're hungry and veer from your list, you're more apt to buy what you don't need. The center aisles are filled with processed, sugary foods. The first 5 ingredients make up the food, the rest are additives that add extra sugar and calories. Your body gets all the nutrients, sugars and fats it needs from the daily requirements of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, dairy and whole grains. All of these items are located around the perimeter of most grocery stores.

8) Read food labels. This is a proven tool to lose weight. It's extremely important to look how many servings there are in one little bag of candy. Sure you may see there are 200 calories but then look below. How many servings are there? If there are 4, there are actually 800 calories (200x4) in that measly bag. Just think - you just wasted 800 calories out of your 1,600 calorie limit for the day on sugar. Also take note of the fat and carbohydrate amounts, specifically the sugar/high fructose corn syrup. Sugar is a FAT trap.

9) Plan ahead for what food is to come. This doesn’t mean you have to plan your meals out for the week. For most, this is so unrealistic. Take each day as it comes and make wise choices as you go. If you know you're going to a party that evening with appetizers, cocktails, a steak dinner and yummy delicate desserts, then be conscious about the calories you consume earlier in the day. This doesn't mean it's ok to sip strictly on Diet Coke all day. That will only cause you to overeat later which will consequently cause you to consume more calories than if you ate smaller portions throughout the day. Eat soup for lunch instead of your staple chicken salad sandwich & chips. Munch on an apple instead of taking your 4:00 PM vending machine trip.

10) Get off the scale. Go off how your clothes feel. If you’re including a weight training routine into your overall weight loss program, you will be gaining muscle weight as you lose fat weight. Muscle weighs more than fat so don’t get discouraged. Remember, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate, and the more fat you burn doing the same old same daily things. Also, many people fail to realize that their weight fluctuates throughout the day due to water and food intake. Therefore, weighing yourself at different times of the day can also inaccurately show weight gain. If you are addicted to the scale, weigh in only ONCE per week. This will eliminate the numbers game and keep you mentally sane.

Ok so there you have it. This may seem like a lot, but it's not hard - just a commitment. Just remember, "if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." You owe it to yourself. Stop giving into the ever failing yo-yo diets and make a change. Eat right, exercise and make small changes to how you live life. Over time it will come natural.

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