Calorie Control is a Lifestyle Change
*Disclaimer: I am not a trained health professional. I am a mother of two and administrative professional that experienced weight gain from stress and a sedentary lifestyle and successfully lost over 40 pounds in 6 months without any diet pills, supplements or quick tricks. I have read and re-read my advice here. I like to read advice and take some here and there. It is not often that I agree 100 per cent with any "how to" or advice columns but hopefully some of my journey will prove to be helpful to some of my readers.
Being healthier is something you have to want for yourself. With the stress of life it can be difficult to care or put forth effort some days, so it is important to plan things out so that it's easy for you to stick with.There are a few concepts that can help you better understand and achieve weight loss and/or a healthier body contour:
- Understand how to control weight (your mass will be equal to what food/drink you put in and energy your expend)
- Motivation! Motivation! Motivation! Some people have a health scare, some want to be healthier for their kids, some people are tired of being tired. Whatever your reason you need to internalize it. And if you regress do not release your motivation, it's not all or nothing, you can pick back up where you left off.
- Allow yourself to be human. Do not set yourself up for failure by making unrealistic expectations and beating yourself up for "failing". Some lifestyles require a lot of change to become healthy and sometimes you have to try a little at a time.
- Some people have a super supportive network of family and friends, some pretty much go it alone whether because they keep a small circle or they keep their health issues to themselves. In the technical age, apps can have you participate as anonymously or publicly as you like in competitions of sorts to help keep you engaged.
- Listen to your body. If you exercise excessively or cut calories too dramatically you may become very hungry (causing yourself to binge eat, ruining your efforts) or worse cause dizzy spells or light headedness. Results will happen but there is a reason there are healthy and not-so-healthy ways to lose weight.
- Exercise is necessary if you want to accelerate weight loss. You may be able to lose some weight by eating better, but if you are sedentary your body really needs some movement to have healthy muscles (unless your medical professional advises against it).
- YOU HAVE TO WANT THIS
You will need tools. Some people use weight watchers, nutrisystem or other products or systems because of ease of meal planning, emotional support or other factors. Every person's needs are different. If you have zero budget (or zero tolerance for any more products) you may not desire to go the next commercial route. Luckily, keeping yourself on track is mostly about being more mindful of what you eat and do, which can often be done at little to no cost. And smart phones can offer some additional options to the tech savvy (although a pen/paper option is certainly do-able).
Be accountable. If you see what you are eating (and activity you are doing) you will feel more accountable. For convenience sake I have listed a few apps and web pages I have found helpful in my own journey toward tracking my own health:
Calorie Counting (app store) or MyFitnessPalhttp://www.myfitnesspal.com/ is an easy, free calorie counter and weight/goal tracker. No excuses for missing recording. Has a bar code scanner or type in description. Set calorie goals, graphs, friends, activities (for recording calorie burning). As much as it may make you squirm, calorie counting is a must when you begin to understand where your "extra" weight is coming from. The intake and output must be studied for some period of time. You will not necessarily be dependent on lifetime calorie counting, it just helps you understand portions and where it is all coming from. What I like most is that you can set a goal and look at your counts a week at a time which gives you a bigger picture of the gain or loss for the week (rather that win or loss on each day). Also it has graphs for protein, fat and nutrients (see photos at right).
Visual Motivation If you need a "visual" of your height/weight goal this avatar can help. On Model My Diet you can change the hair/face/skin tone/clothing to look more like yourself. It may seem silly, but picturing yourself at your goal really can help motivation. For men the link is http://www.modelmydiet.com/men.html and for women it is http://www.modelmydiet.com/ If nothing else, it can be fun!
Virtual "Team Fitness" Great for those without a "gym buddy" or just like to record workouts for app "points" and interact in a social media forum. https://www.fitocracy.com/ is a web site and an app that you can track your workouts and get "points". There is a Level up feature for those that enjoy a "game" feel. You can follow other users, give "props" for workouts, view others' work-out regimens for inspiration and chat.
Pink Pad Period & Fertility Tracker Free is an app for iphone and android for lady health. You keep calendars and track weight and a myriad of other monthly and/or hormonal symptoms. Ovulation and fertility issues can be closely related to hormonal fluctuations and weight, so keep tabs on these if you aren't already (and happen to be female). It also has women's health resources and forums for general health, fertility and pregnancy.
Meal plan Your grocery trip is where you can make or break yourself. A spouse or live in can also hurt your best intentions, if you have weak will power, ask your family if you can cut down on some of the junk food in the house (honestly, it's better for all of you).
While I do not necessarily buy into skipping meals or special liquid diets, I also think that some nutrition is better than poor nutrition or missed meals (like missing breakfast because of a late morning). When I am in full weight loss mode I keep powder and skim milk at work. Slim fast
If you work outside your home, try to prepare breakfasts and lunches the day or week before. If your workplace has a refrigerator and storage for you to keep healthy snacks, it is a good idea to keep 100 calorie snacks available should you miss breakfast or have a sudden craving. Hopefully a small snack can keep you from a less healthy option at a vending machine or nearby fast food restaurant.
I also keep frozen meals like Smart Ones in the freezer or pre-make lunches to take with you. Going out to lunch or ordering delivery makes it too easy to over eat because portions are most often double or triple the calories you should be eating.
However, speaking of food choices: My views are not to drastically change the types of food you consume immediately. Especially not on day one. A dramatic change may be a set up for failure. I eat candy EVERY DAY. It is my bad habit. But I try to keep portions very small. I tell myself, "If I eat this that's forty minutes on the treadmill instead of thirty". I actually recommend eating mostly the same foods (unless it is deep fried or drinking a lot of calories in the way of soda since that can easily get away from you).
Eat mostly the same kinds of foods but change portions to hit your calorie targets. And if one day you fail, you cannot give up and stop trying. You keep chipping away. If you come close every day you will see the results, much more quickly than you could ever imagine.
"[Aerobic training] was more effective than [resistance training] for the reduction of fat and body mass in previously sedentary, nondiabetic, overweight or obese adults" (1).
Any activity is better than none, however, there are certainly ways to optimize the benefits you are looking for. If your primary goal is weight loss aerobic training is the way to go, as opposed to weight lifting or resistance training alone. Luckily, aerobic can be as easy as walking. When I started out I was pretty sedentary so my goal was walk twenty minutes three days a week while watching TV.
Don't fall into the time of day trap. I talked myself out of exercise for quite some time because "people say you should exercise first thing in the morning", "people say you shouldn't work out right before bed". Well, guess what? I only have time to work out after my kids go to bed, which is right before I go to bed. I'm not a morning person, so morning work outs are not happening. So night time it is. And it works just the same. And I still sleep at night. It may be different for others, and maybe a "wind-down" period would be needed (feel free to comment if you have experience with that). But I say, get exercise in when you can. Some is better than none.
And as the pounds started coming off and I had more energy I increased speed and included weight lifting and alternated my pilates routines to keep my workouts interesting.
To sum it up:
- Plan Your Meals as conveniently as you can for your lifestyle
- Track your Calories
- Move your body
- Eye on the prize!
- Be human and forgive yourself
- Keep moving!
Check back on my HubPages for exercise routines, weight lifting for ladies, and all of the other fun arts, crafts, baking and gardening I do. If you want it, you can do it!
Leslie H. Willis , Cris A. Slentz , Lori A. Bateman , A. Tamlyn Shields , Lucy W. Piner , Connie W. Bales , Joseph A. Houmard , William E. Kraus Journal of Applied PhysiologyPublished 15 December 2012Vol. 113no. 1831-1837DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011