Learn how to lose weight and keep it; join the “Transformations” weight loss program at Norwalk Hospital. Classes start April 4 at 12:00 pm and April 5 at 5:30 pm. To register for classes, call 203-855-3548 or 203-852-2178.
The snow is finally melting and some of us are beginning to see our lawns again. So it’s time to start thinking about swimsuit season, which will be here before you know it and spring into shape for summer. Don’t be tempted to jump on the latest fad-diet bandwagon because it has been shown repeatedly in weight control research, dieting is the best way to gain weight. It works almost every time!
If this scenario sounds familiar, it’s time to throw away those diet books and start eating well. Eating well is more than just knowing what to eat but when to eat. It involves establishing life style changes and avoiding the dieting traps into which many of us have fallen in the past.
Plan to eat every three to four hours. Many dieters skip breakfast or try desperately not to eat too much early in the day. A tiny bowl of cereal for breakfast and a salad for lunch sets the stage for raging hunger by 4 pm and you want to eat everything in sight. Eating smaller amounts of foods more often helps with hunger control. Rather than adding more unwanted calories, planned snacking helps us feel satisfied with reasonable food portions. This is eating well.
Think Fiber! Fruits and vegetables provide valuable nutrients as well as bulk. Avoid processed grains and sugars, which cause blood sugars and insulin levels to rise which increase fat storage. High fiber whole grain breads and cereals in small portions keep blood sugar levels constant and require more energy for your body to metabolize. You will feel full and will be less hungry.
Cut the fat. This is the most important change you can make for your waistline and your health. In particular avoid saturated fats, fats that are solid at room temperature. The fat on red meat, the skin on chicken, and processed partially hydrogenated oils which make commercially prepared foods crisp and flaky. These fats increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Focus on healthy monounsaturated fats like olive and canola oils, nuts, avocado and omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna, sardines, flax seeds and walnuts. But remember a teaspoon of fat weather it is a healthy fat or not still has 50 calories. So, too much of a good thing is not good either. Nutritionists agree the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to gradually modify your eating habits in such a way that you never feel deprived. Top a baked potato with salsa instead of butter; use skim milk instead of whole in soups and sauces. Making low fat substitutions gradually cuts calories without the feeling of denial.
Seeking perfection is another attitude trap dieters fall into. A common response to a dietary lapse is complete disintegration of our total plan. When we find ourselves eating an unplanned goodie, we feel guilty and finish the whole bag of cookies. Remember, no one is perfect. Use this as a red flag to get your self back on track. When eating well, we enjoy what we’ve eaten and get on with making better food choices.
Get moving, exercise. One of the most powerful tools we have for weight control is movement. Remember in order to lose weight, out-put has to be greater than in-put. Physical activity is one of the strongest predictors of long lasting weight loss. Physical activity should be something that we enjoy, such as walking, dancing, swimming, skating, to name a few. The more varied and enjoyable the activities are, the more likely we are to continue to do them. Remember to schedule your exercise by making an appointment with yourself and don’t break it. The expert recommendation is just 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.
To help us lose weight and keep it off, remember the three P’s: Planning meals and snacks helps us to get the job done well. Practicing “eating well” behaviors strengthens lifestyle changes. Perseverance, probably the most challenging, keeps us going towards our goal of health, strength and wellness.