Many of us put on a few pounds as we age. Over time, it gets harder and harder for us to maintain a healthy weight. Taking off those pounds and maintaining a healthy weight is more than just a slogan or quick fix. It is about changing one’s lifestyle. It is a matter of saving your life. And you are worth it. Different diets work for different people but the important thing is picking a diet that works for the long term for you and promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Weight loss is based on how many calories one takes in and how many calories one burns off. My simple way to think of it is like using a ledger for our diet and exercise. You have a budget of the amount of calories you will use every day. We record in our ledger the calories we take in and burn off. If we metabolize more calories than we take in, we lose weight and if we take in more calories than we metabolize, we gain weight.
There are many fad diets that can cause us to lose weight. You hear about many different diets or weight loss supplements in the media. Companies spend a lot of money marketing these plans or diets. There have been recent news stories about the claims of different weight loss supplements and their effectiveness. I have tried a few and the pounds do come off. You can add a shake or protein drink, use a cleanse or buy your prepackaged food shipped right to your door. All of these can work short term but the weight frequently comes back after a short interval. These techniques do not give you the tools to manage your eating and weight in the long term. That is the place we need to focus. I wish there was a pill or drink or cleanse that I could take that would make weight loss easy. It would have made my years of dieting easier. This is not a sprint. It is a lifestyle change we need to make for the rest of our lives. The habits and responses to eating have been developed over our lives and are not changed in one easy step. It is an ongoing process and takes time and effort. It is not magic. It is about being good to yourself for the long term. YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!
We need to change things in our lives that cause us to eat more calories than we burn off. I am a grazer. I like food and will eat and nibble a little of this or that and before you know it, I ate half the box. Was I really that hungry? Changing your lifestyle and giving yourself good choices makes this easier and gives you the incentive to continue your program. I suggest you refer back to some of the stress reducers I previously discussed to adopt some of those strategies to make you less prone to use food as your stress reducer.
Each person has an idealized vision of where they want to be with their weight and health. One important idea is to set realistic goals for weight loss. You may lose many pounds the first week or 2 but sustained and durable weight loss means losing 1-2 pounds per week. More than that means you may be over doing the weight loss and that may be unhealthy. You need realistic goals that are attainable. Meeting those goals gives us incentive to keep going and achieving our next goals.
You need to keep a balanced diet. A diet high in proteins and saturated fats can affect the heart, kidneys and bones. You need to include fruits and vegetables for balance. Moderation and balance in which foods you eat is very important. If you have any questions, contact your health care professional to review your plan with you.
Everyone can have an episode and cheat on their diet. The important thing is to forgive yourself and do better tomorrow. Try to remove access to tempting foods and give yourself healthy snacks. Distracting yourself and fighting boredom will lessen the chances of cheating. Reducing those eating triggers such as stress from work, relationships, finances and health issues will lessen the chances of eating more than your program calls for. Setting attainable goals and meeting them is the path to a successful program . YOU ARE WORTH IT!!
Keeping a ledger and making yourself accountable for what you have eaten allows you to keep track and stay on course. You reinforce your successes and keep to your program. Some of the tips I use.
- Drink water. In addition to making you feel fuller, sometimes thirst can be confused as hunger and lead us to eat or eat more when we are really not hungry. That glass of water will always have fewer calories than a snack.
- Keeping track of my calories usage makes me responsible for my eating and exercise. I use an app on my smart phone and carry it with me. There are many available for Iphone or Android or online if you want to record on your computer. I like the electronic versions as that makes the calorie calculations much easier. There are diet programs that accomplish this with a points system. It is the same idea just accomplished differently.
- I plan my day and enter my foods as I eat. This helps me figure out my day and make sure I do not exceed my planned intake. I enter my exercises and see the extra calories I have metabolized. This speeds my weight loss or allows me to have a special treat on occasion and reinforces better diet choices and the need to stay active throughout the day. Entering those exercise calories also lets me see how many minutes on my exercise DVD that chocolate bar or treat will take to burn off. It is called accountability. That is why the ledger is so helpful to me. YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!!
- Breakfast is usually easy as I am at home and have a set routine most days. I usually allot 250-300 calories for breakfast. Oatmeal, toast, vegetables sautéed with an egg are some of my favorite choices. Yogurt with granola and berries and honey is my wife Janet’s choice. Including fiber and protein helps to keep you satisfied longer and holds off cravings. I find that a bowl of cold cereal and milk usually leaves me hungry by 10 am. That is a problem waiting to happen. Do not skip breakfast. It gets the day off to a poor start and will make you prone to excessive eating as a way to make up for that.
- Plan ahead. I work as a physician and many times do not know if I will be called away for emergencies or will need to take extra time to address someone’s problems. The time that usually is impacted by this is lunch time. I do not have the time to leave my office and pick up lunch. That used to leave me open to eating anything handy. Bad Choice. Planning ahead allows me to monitor my intake and control what I put in and how many calories I use through the day. I now usually bring my lunch with me in a small insulated sack. It usually consists of vegetables, fruits and protein. I include a small amount of carbohydrate. My total calorie count is usually about 400-500 including the snacks I will have during the day.
- Vegetables: I like to snack on finger foods like carrots, celery, red pepper but you can take what you want such as radish, cucumbers slices, broccoli, etc. I do not use dressing but a small container of dressing may be good for some. This is a way to blunt your hunger and makes you feel like you are eating something substantial when you are hungry between meals. Just remember to include what you eat in your counter.
- Fruit: Something handy like a banana, melon pieces, pineapple, grapes, pear or apple or berries that are prepackaged and easy to snack on. The goal is not to punish yourself but give you something to look forward to as a good tasting, healthy alternative to chips, candy or anything else that might just be laying around for you to eat without thinking about it.
- Protein: I like to have a few ounces of protein with lunch. I usually plan from the night before meal to have something to take for lunch the next day. Fish, a piece of chicken or turkey burger are some of my favorites. I love a good BLT. 2 slices of bacon are 80 calories and 2 slices of wheat bread are 70 calories each. Lettuce and tomato are minimal and a small dollop of mayonnaise completes the sandwich. Nuts are another good choice for snacking in moderation. They provide protein and essential fats and will stay with you longer.
Making sure you have good choices is the most important thing. As a child, my mom would give me a dollar to go to Burger King with my siblings and we would order a whopper, fries and a drink. The burger is 650 calories. A 4 ounce turkey burger with a bun and tomato and lettuce is approximately 300 calories. I liked to ride my bike with my brother and sister in the summer for lunch. It was a treat and a bit of adventure. Now I go to the fewer calories.
Putting my calories in a ledger also allows me to make better choices. Each type of food has a different number of calories per ounce. Here are some calorie counts per ounce for different protein sources
Chicken Breast 31
Chicken thigh 50
Ground turkey 8% fat 42
Turkey light meat 45
Filet of beef 55
Beef strip steak 79
Ground beef 90% lean 61
Ground beef 80% lean 77
Pork tenderloin 42
Pork shoulder 76
Having the information allows us to make better choices. When planning my meals, do I want to have that strip steak or chicken? How big a portion am I going to have? Preparation method also makes a big difference. Frying is a higher calorie preparation method and grilling or roasting would be less calories. Carbohydrates and bread are also classified in this manner. Pasta, potatoes, rice, corn, bread, legumes, and cereals all have varying caloric values and being aware of the differences allows us to make good choices.
Dinner is always my hardest meal. I have been working all day and plan to eat about 700-800 calories. I get home and start to cook with my wife and then I have to taste and put together meals. Dinner usually includes a protein, carbohydrate and vegetable. Portion control is most important. I have to measure my foods to avoid the inevitable portion creep. I usually steer to lower calorie proteins such as fish and poultry but have the occasional steak. If you feel deprived or unsatisfied, you will not stick to your program for the long term.
Dinner out is always a planning issue and I will frequently go online to check the restaurant’s menu for the nutritional information before I ever get there. Planning ahead allows me to adjust my day to account for the great meal I will have. Maybe a lower calorie choice for lunch or extra time on the elliptical or bicycle to make the ledger balance.
Travel is also a problem time. We are going here and there and it is very difficult to plan where and when you can eat. That makes healthy choices a problem. Robert recently had a Q&A about his tips for these challenges. The important part is to plan ahead and have healthy choices available to you.
My problem is wanting a sweet something after dinner. The goal of dieting is to lose weight but not to feel unsatisfied or deprived. We all have foods that we prefer. Women usually prefer sweets and chocolate and men prefer pizza and hamburgers. I prefer both. Making the choices and being accountable is key to a successful weight control program. If you want a sweet treat at night, there are many products out there. My go to is a frozen fudge bar that is 100 calories or an ice cream cone that is 150 calories as my evening treat. The slice of cake that is 400 calories is nice and one or two bites will have to suffice.
Various exercises and activities have different calories used per minute of activity. The more vigorous the activity the higher the calorie count. Walking at 2 MPH burns 15 calories per 5 minutes, 3 MPH burns 21 calories per 5 minutes and at 4 MPH burns 33 per 5 minutes. Different activities that I am involved with include
Bicycling 12-13 MPH 117 calories burned per 10 minutes of activity
Exercise, vigorous 117
Elliptical, vigorous 133
Snow shoveling 83
Swimming at leisure 83
Walking, 3.5 MPH 55
Any activity is good and helps on many levels. It raises metabolism, reduces insulin resistance, and improve your mood. It can reduce your hunger. By understanding the calories that different exercises will burn off, it allows us to make informed choices about what food we want eat. Is that plate of fries worth the extra 30 minutes on the treadmill? Just like when you spend your money, knowing the costs allows us to make better choices. Sometimes that candy bar is a treat that you can have. YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!!
One should speak to their health care professional to assess the level of activity that is right for them. Get out of the chair and move when watching television, especially when watching Restaurant Impossible. Just standing and walking or running in place for a few minutes will help. Get on the treadmill and read your book while walking. Increase your pace when you give your dog a walk. My dog Domino likes a brisk pace. Use a pedometer and record your steps and use that to make a goal to increase your activity. The Chinese philosopher Laozi said that a journey of thousand mile begins with the first step. This is the way I think of my weight control program. It is not just about limiting the calories you eat. It is about changing your activity and intake to get a positive calorie balance and get you to the goal you want. That is all part of promoting your healthy lifestyle. YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!
Weight control is a persistent problem for many of us. Using a daily ledger allows us to make the positive choices that we need to achieve our goals. Making good choices about our food and increasing our activity level are the simplest and easiest ways to getting to the weight goal you set. This does not mean you can never eat anything that tastes good or have a sweet or other treat. Everyone needs to plan and anticipate what you need and want. YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!
About the author:
Dr Schutz was born in Newport News, VA and grew up in Flemington, NJ. He attended Rutgers University and New Jersey Medical School where he graduated in 1985. He was selected as a “Top Doc” in NJ Monthly Magazine and is the former President of the Medical Staff at Shore Memorial Hospital. He is married and has 3 children. He is active in religious and youth activities