It’s the New Year, and this year you really...REALLY...promise to lose weight! Starting January 1, you skip those Bowl Game snacks and dutifully eat your broccoli. On January 2, you skip breakfast, eat a grilled chicken salad for lunch and a salad again for dinner. January 3rd….cereal, soup, salad, skip the dessert. Down three pounds already! Way to go!
But guess what? At this pace, by the end of the week you’ll be eating everything in sight! So if you really want to keep your New Year’s resolution, here’s my advice to you.
There’s a better way to lose weight, and it certainly DOES NOT include starving yourself to slenderness. It’s called Weight MANAGEMENT.
We’ve been conditioned to think if we cut our calories way back, we’ll lose weight quickly and then be able to keep it off. Unfortunately, cutting calories down to 800-1,000 calories per day can lead to unintended results, including loss of healthy muscle mass and severe blood-sugar swings.
I know you have all heard of “yo-yo” dieting. Cutting calories too far is a primary cause of this effect, where you lose weight quickly and then put a bigger number of pounds back on. The fact is cutting too many calories puts your body into “starvation mode,” where the survival instinct kicks in and all it wants to do is STORE body fat in the midsection. And then the imbalance in blood sugar causes you to have cravings and want to eat everything in sight.
But there is a better way, and that is by MANAGING your foods instead of dieting. Here are several basic rules regarding food management:
1. The closer to Mother Nature you eat, the better off you’ll be! This means eating an apple instead of apple pie. A banana instead of banana bread. Oatmeal instead of an oatmeal cookie. Adjust your foods to include lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables and you’ll be much better off.
2. Keep the RIGHT calorie count! If you consume too few calories you’ll burn MUSCLE instead of FAT. Too many calories and you’ll gain weight. But hit the right balance of foods within your proper calorie range, and you’ll condition your body to burn EXCESS BODY FAT at a very controlled rate, about 1.5 to 2 pounds per week if you do it well, or around 25 pounds of body fat in just three months!
As a general rule, most women do well in the 1,200-1,500 calorie range, and men in the 1,700-2,000 range. This means you might have to eat MORE food than you’ve been conditioned to eat on a “diet” in order to keep within the prescribed range. It helps if you know your Basal Metabolic Rate, or the amount of calories your body needs to function normally. When you use that as your baseline, then you can eat UP to the proper calorie count to burn body fat instead of cutting DOWN to a random number and ending up in starvation mode.
3. Don’t wait for that miracle diet pill. You’ve all heard Oprah’s trials and tribulations with her recent weight gain. If you watch her show, you know she’s constantly looking for that miracle cure, be it a pill or a special diet. This is a sure path to failure. If you’re constantly looking for a shortcut, you’re robbing yourself of the chance to be in control. The fact of the matter is YOU control what foods you put into your body. If you have the right balance of high quality proteins and eat your fruits and vegetables, you’ll be the one who controls your weight, and you’ll know how to maintain your healthy weight for life. Don’t wait for that miracle cure!
4. Get away from all beige and yellow food. Your plate should have bright colors on it, not just beige. Try to include a healthy balance of bright colored fruits and vegetables. A plate full of beige fried chicken, beige mashed potatoes & gravy, yellow corn and a beige roll might taste good, but it’s NOT going to help you reach your goal.
5. Water yourself! You all know the importance of drinking enough water during the day, but when you hear the big numbers like “64 Ounces,” all you can think about is lugging around a big water bottle. But if you break it into smaller, manageable amounts, drinking the right amount is easy. Set yourself a goal of taking a water break on the hour during the business day. Get out of your chair and drink a small glass (8 ounces) at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. & 11 a.m., then again at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. & 4 p.m. That just leaves you two more servings in the evening, and you’ve satisfied your 64 ounces for the day.
6. One thing at a time. If you’re serious about keeping your resolutions this year, don’t try to do them all at once. If you jump head-first into several intense lifestyle changes at the same time, you’re bound to quickly burn yourself out and fail. I recommend you start by managing your foods first. This will help you regulate your blood sugar and mood swings, and make any additional lifestyle change more tolerable. And always remember…ALL THINGS IN MODERATION.
You don’t go from couch potato to marathon runner overnight.
So remember, keeping your weight loss resolution is MUCH easier when you MANAGE your foods instead of DIETING! Controlling your nutrition and calorie count within a healthy range will keep you on track to burn BODY FAT, will keep your blood sugar in balance to reduce cravings, and will condition you to STAY on course to reach your goal.
Good luck this year, and happy MANAGING.
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