Itís Not Just Cutting Calories
Despite a multi-billion dollar industry of weight loss books and supplements that claim to have the answer for getting you lean and fit, there is no magic pill. These products have fallen short of their objective as demonstrated by the rising epidemic of obesity in the U.S. Recent studies by the Center of Disease Control report that obesity now affects almost one in every three people.
Move It To Lose It
- How can your walking program help you attain an ideal weight?
- What about the food side of the equation?
To lose weight, you must put your body in a state of negative energy balance. This is a condition where the number of calories expended is greater than the number of calories consumed. Many people are tempted to go on a diet to lose weight, but merely cutting calories isnít the best long-term approach. When you lose weight strictly by dieting, you lose more muscle along with the fat. Muscle helps rev up the bodyís metabolism so a loss of muscle mass can lower the rate at which you normally burn calories.
Exercise such as brisk walking not only elevates your metabolism while you're doing it, but can also elevate metabolism for a short time after you're done, depending on your pace. Not only is the combination of healthy eating and exercise the best way to lose weight, it is much more effective at keeping weight off in the long run than any diet alone.
If youíre just starting out or you havenít been active for an extended period of time, itís best to start slow. Itís okay to begin with as little as 10 minutes three or four times a week and gradually increase the time and intensity each week. Varying your speeds as you walk will help you improve your ability to walk faster and increase the number of calories burned in the workout.
What About Food?
Instead of drastically cutting calories, you should reduce your portion size and make healthy food choices. Cut back on high calorie foods with low nutrition value and substitute healthier, lower calorie options with more nutritional value. For example:
|Grande Cafť Mocha with whole milk and whipped cream (400 calories)||Tall Cafť Mocha with nonfat milk and no whipped cream (174 calories)|
|Blueberry Muffin (470 Calories)||English Muffin (120 Calories)|
|Bagel and Cream Cheese (320 Calories)||Cereal with Nonfat Milk (190 Calories)|
|Candy Bar - Snickers (271 Calories)||Low Fat Chewy Granola Bar (110 Calories)|
|Potato Chips Ė 3 oz (450 Calories)||Pretzel Sticks Ė 3 oz (300 Calories)|
The Keys to Long Term Success
According to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), an organization that conducts research on people who have lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off for at least one year, there are several traits that these people have in common:
- 78% eat breakfast every day. Skipping meals such as breakfast isnít a good strategy to lose weight because youíre likely to overeat later in the day.
- People in the NWCR have reported that most of their calories come from carbohydrates and less from protein and fats. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, and vegetables contain many nutrients for good health and are low in calories.
- 75% weigh them self at least once a week. Self-monitoring can keep small setbacks from becoming large ones.
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week. The average adult watches 35 hours of television per week!
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour/day.
Many of us are great at losing weight, but statistics show that we struggle to keep it off. This is where regular exercise really shines Ėhelping you maintain that leaner, healthier body. Although 30 minutes/day of walking is recommended for improved health, most scientific bodies recommend higher volumes of exercise for weight loss. For example, organizations such as the National Institute of Medicine, International Obesity Task Force and the International Association for the Study of Obesity recommend between 45 and 90 minutes/day for weight management. For walking to be most effective, you should try to build up so you can maintain a brisk pace or introduce power walking intervals to boost the calorie burning value.
You may want to speak to your healthcare provider before starting a weight loss program. Ask if your weight is negatively affecting your health or aggravating any conditions that you have. Weight loss might require a change in the dosage of some medications youíre taking, so itís a good idea if your physician is aware of your plan to lose weight. Find out how much weight your physician recommends that you lose and if you have any limitations to consider when exercising.
Remember, you can't lose weight overnight. It took time to put it on, so it takes time to lose it. Donít let yourself get discouraged if you donít see immediate results. Set a realistic weight-loss goal for yourself - like 1-2 pounds a week. Eat healthy Ė you donít want to get back from your walk and consume twice the calories you just burned! Develop a habit 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!