Fighting the battle of the bulge? Did you know more than one third of U.S. adults are obese? Our fast-paced gotta-get-more-done-now lifestyle has led to a deprioritization of mealtimes. We eat on the run, grab a coffee for breakfast, snack on a donut at break, and then take the kids to a fast-food joint for dinner because of jam-packed schedules.
As we age, excess weight can keep us from doing things we love. It also affects the pocketbook. Did you know medical expenses for obese people are $1429 more per year than for a normal weight person? As a gal who has lost a total of 35 pounds over my lifetime, and kept it off, this week I am sharing six simple tips I use to help maintain a healthy weight. But first, here’s what prompted me to write this post.
Last weekend, I was out with a new girlfriend who is about my age, perhaps a few years younger. If I had to guess, she’s probably about thirty pounds or more overweight which puts her into the obese category. I parked the car in the garage and we headed to the main entrance for a night of salsa dancing. As we’re walking, she says “Dinner time,” and pulls something wrapped in foil out of her purse and begins to chow down. I made a mental note that this behavior is conducive to weight gain but didn’t say a word. Yeah, Ariel!
So here we go with my six tips to help you lose that unhealthy baggage, have more energy, and feel better about yourself.
Tip #1: Eat smaller portions
Everything these days seems to be super-sized, from burgers to televisions. Unless we want our bodies to be super-sized we need to go against the tide and realize bigger is not always better, particularly when it comes to portion sizes. A serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be about the size of our palm, which is about 4 ounces. We want to feel full but not stuffed when we finish our meal.
Tip #2: Be more active
Physical activity is even more important as we age. Have done with the excuse about not liking to exercise. There are so many ways to exercise and have fun. One of the easiest and cheapest forms is to take a walk. Put on a pair of supportive shoes and head outside. A brisk 1 – 2 mile walk everyday will do wonders for you. At lunch time, get away from the desk, clear your head, and get some fresh air. If you want more, pick up the pace to a jog. If your joints can take it, jogging is a great cardiovascular exercise that gets the happy hormones, known as endorphins, circulating. You will burn more calories, stoke your metabolism, and strengthen your heart. Do something to get moving every day. Your heart will thank you, too!
Tip #3: Cut back on fats and sugars.
As an ex-aerobics instructor, I learned about nutrition, diet, and calories. Did you know a gram of fat has more than double the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrate? Quick nutrition lesson here. Fats are found mostly in animal products such as meat, dairy, and cheese. They also are in oils, nuts, and seeds. To limit fats, avoid fried foods, fast-food, ice cream, pre-made packaged or frozen products, and creamy salad dressings and sauces such as alfredo. Check the labels and notice the number of fat grams per serving. If you’re not used to doing this, you will be in for a rude awakening. Some fats are good for you, though, so don’t eliminate them entirely. The brain is made up of 60% fat, so it needs it to stay healthy. Olive oil, coconut oil, sardines, salmon, all contain heart-healthy oils but use them sparingly. Now let’s talk about sugar.
Sugar wears many disguises so it is important to be aware of where these simple carbohydrates lurk. I overheard a woman at the pool the other day comparing lettuce and watermelon. She, too, is overweight. She was talking about how much she loves watermelon. True, lettuce and watermelon are both mostly water, however, watermelon is very high in sugar, rating 72 out of 100 on the glycemic index. So if you’re downing it in large quantities, remember the body still needs to produce insulin to digest fruit sugars the same as the sugar in cakes and cookies. Some other sources of sugar you might not be aware of are alcohol, dried fruit, dates, and some energy drinks.
Which one of these tips will you apply this week? Write and let me know how it goes for you. Stay tuned for part two of my six simple weight-loss tips next week.
Until then, keep looking up!