Small Changes, BIG Results!
Whether you’re looking to shed extra pounds or are ready for healthier living, you may be surprised to learn that a few small changes in your daily diet and activity can lead to big results in your life.
Being active is critical for good lifelong health: According to government recommendations, healthy adults should exercise at a moderate intensity, such as a brisk walk, at least 2.5 hours a week and engage in muscle-strengthening activities twice a week.
It is especially critical for aging adults to meet these minimum recommendations to maintain health and basic functional capacity. However, greater amounts of activity are required to gain more substantial health and fitness benefits: Five hours of weekly moderate-intensity physical activity or 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
Being physically active on a regular basis is critical to achieve overall well-being. It will help you relieve stress and maintain or achieve normal body weight as well as give you large blasts of energy throughout the day, while getting better rest at night. Recent scientific studies also showed that being physically active has multiple positive effects on brain function, including improving one’s ability to think critically and resolve problems.
- Start by engaging a physical activity you actually like!Bottom line is if you aren’t interested in the activity, you won’t do it long-term. Once you find an activity you enjoy, try to engage in it on a regular basis, even if it’s just for 10 minutes at a time. Then, gradually increase the duration to gain more health benefits. Should “life” get in the way, resume the activity as soon as you can.
- Get motivated by partnering up: Whether it’s walking your dog every morning, meeting your significant other at the gym after work or meeting a friend for a morning run, having a workout partner can do wonders for accountability.
If you’ve ever watched the popular television reality show “The Biggest Loser,” you know that a healthy diet and physical activity is a winning combo for weight loss success; and even more critical in trying to maintain it.
What the Hollywood producers don’t tell us, however, is that several contestants have ballooned back to their original weight or regained significant pounds months after leaving the show. That is because they no longer live in a controlled and supervised environment competing for “drastic and unrealistic” change. A true lifestyle change means slowly adapting to healthier behaviors in everyday living.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to healthier living:
- Eliminate or significantly limit your consumption of sodas and other sugar-laden beverages: According to Calorie-counter.netone can (12 fl. oz) of Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola or Pepsi Cola has 155 calories. You have to walk for 23 minutes to burn off one soda; or 45 minutes for drinking two a day. If you can’t live without soda, make it a weekly treat, not a habit.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables:The government recommends 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of veggies a day. Most people don’t eat enough of both. Increase your daily intake with mindful eating: One piece of fruit for breakfast; a fresh salad (add a low-fat dressing) for lunch; and veggie snacks during the day. Substitute veggies and fruits for sugary treats and watch your cravings for sweets slowly diminish or disappear altogether.
Eat Less Refined Sugars/Sweets: Whether you’re a chocoholic, ice-cream lover or just plain crazy for sweets or unhealthy salty snacks, keeping these in moderation can be a tough balance. Who doesn’t love a sweet treat after lunch or dinner?
- Eat Healthy Grains: According to government recommendations, most adults should eat between 3-6 oz. of grains, with at least ½ of that being whole grains. Check food labels for whole grain products, such as brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain corn, bulgur and graham flour. Foods labeled with the words “multi-grain,” ‘stone-ground, “100 percent wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain” and “bran” are often not whole-grain products.
- Know Portion Sizes: Research has shown that Americans underestimate daily food consumption by as much as 25 percent, which contributes to the nation’s overweight and obesity crisis.
Here are some examples ofa single serving size, according to the United States Dietary Association:
- Vegetables or fruit is about the size of your fist.
- Pasta should be equal to one scoop of ice cream
- Meat, fish, or poultry should be the size of a deck of cards
- Snacks, such as pretzels and chips, should be the size of a cupped handful
- Apple the size of a baseball
- Potato the size of a computer mouse
- Bagel the size of a hockey puck
- Steamed rice the size of a cupcake wrapper
- Cheese the size of a pair of dice or the size of your whole thumb
Calories In vs. Calories Out:If you love fast food, chocolate, ice cream, pizza, be prepared toinvesthours to burn off these calories.
Tips for Developing Portion Control:
At home: Use smaller dishes and don’t go back for seconds. Never eat out of the bag or carton.
In restaurants: Eyeball your appropriate portion. Avoid “all you can eat” places. Share your dessert and plan to take home leftovers. Stop eating when you’re full.
At the store: Don’t buy high-calorie food or snacks with little or no nutritional value. Make a grocery list and stick to the list while shopping.
Be patient. Start by making small changes. After you start eating healthier and become more physically active, you’ll feel more energized, less stressed and will love to hear those words: “Have you lost weight?” or “You look great.” It’s a secret to success worth sharing.
New Year, New You!
|Successful Weight Control
By Jolene Matthews
Eating less, or cutting back on fat in your diet, won’t keep the weight off. What you really need to do is strike a good balance between the number of calories you consume and the number you burn. And the only way to do that is to exercise.
Don’t groan! By exercising, you can lose weight while you eat more calories than if you simply went on a diet. Regular physical activity is much more effective at keeping the weight off in the long run than any diet.
One Choice Is Aerobic Exercise
With aerobic exercise, you can lose weight without drastically reducing the calories you consume or sacrificing important nutritional needs. One reason for this is that aerobic exercise not only elevates your metabolism while you’re exercising, but it can also keep it elevated even after you’re done, depending on how long and how strong you exercise.
You’ve probably heard about exercise programs that actually turn your body into a “fat-burning machine.” Aerobics can do that. An aerobic program that you stick with can help you lose weight more easily because it can stimulate your body and make it burn calories.
If weight control is your goal, some types of aerobic activity will work better than others. Low-impact aerobic exercise, like walking, step aerobics and low-impact aerobic dance, is your best bet. Some good non-impact aerobic activities you can benefit from include swimming, bicycling and rowing.
If you’re just getting started, begin with as little as 15 minutes of low-impact aerobics three times a week. Gradually increase to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity four times a week.
Strength Training = Weight Management
Your muscles burn calories during physical activity. What you may not know is that your muscles also burn calories when your body is at rest. Increase your muscle mass, and you’ll be increasing your body’s capacity to burn calories both during activity and at rest.
Add to that the fact that diets which substantially restrict calories can cause the loss of lean muscle mass, along with the loss of fat. By incorporating strength training into your activity program while also following a moderate diet, you’ll be able to maintain lean muscle mass while you lose fat.
Start any strength-training program with one set of exercises and a weight that allows you to complete eight to 12 repetitions. Your program should exercise your legs, trunk, shoulders, arms, chest and upper back. When strengthening your abdomen and lower back, increase the number of repetitions with weights that offer less resistance.
Success Means Good Eating and Good Exercise
Follow a moderate low-fat diet and an exercise program that combines aerobic activity and strength training. That’s the key to losing weight—and keeping it off.
Begin slowly with exercises you find comfortable and build as your body becomes accustomed to the activity level. Don’t start out too hard or too fast, or you may injure yourself or quit before you’ve done yourself much good.
And remember, you can’t lose weight overnight. Set a realistic weight-loss goal for yourself—like 1 to 2 pounds a week—eat healthy and get going on a program of regular physical activity, and you’ll be delighted by what you accomplish.
Maintaining a lower, healthier body weight is something you can accomplish. So start now and keep on going!