By Monique Richard MS, RDN, LDN
Maybe you’ve overdone the holiday treats, meals and lounging and you’re feeling less than stellar as 2016 arrives on the scene. The guilt, frustration, shame, desperation and resentment can be temporary or something you fight daily. Guess what? There’s hope, and it’s in your hands, by the choices you make. With some support and the right mind-set, 2016 can be a fresh start for you. You can be the amazing self you are, just an enhanced, healthier version. An upgrade more spectacular than the 2015 you because that was “so last year.”
Losing weight is a fairly simple concept but an extremely complex metabolic cycle of reactions. You’ve heard it a thousand times: if you take in fewer calories than you burn, you are going to lose weight. It is not that cut and dry, and nutrition is about so much more than calories in and out. If it were simple, we would not be facing the current obesity epidemic in our country. Losing weight may not happen in a snap or be as easy as taking a pill, but it can happen, by making some important changes.
Change may need to happen on many levels: physically, psychologically, behavior-related, or environmentally. Not knowing all the facts and information can be the biggest barrier. For example, not understanding how many calories one needs, compared to the calories consumed can often tip the scale in the wrong direction. The best way to rectify this problem would be to meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in order gain critical insight to your specific needs.
If seeing an RDN is not an option right now, then I challenge you to follow just one or two of these simple steps for a month and see what changes. You may be surprised at the results and be motivated to keep going.
Literally, trim off the fat
Fat is the calorie-king of the three macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates). Per gram it has more than double the calories of protein and carbohydrates. Although it is an essential part of the diet and critical element in helping our bodies run smoothly, it can also be the cause of many health related problems, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, just to name a few. So keep in mind that eliminating unnecessary fat is worth its weight in gold.
When preparing steak, roasts, chicken, and turkey with skin, trim the fat (the marbled white material or gristle on red meat and the skin attached to poultry) before cooking to save on calories. Think you have no control over it in a restaurant? Ask for the leanest cut of that meat prepared with the least amount of oil and grilled or baked, if possible. Your portion should never be bigger than a deck of cards/or computer mouse. Ask your server questions about the particular item, so they can steer you in the right direction.
The importance of plant-based whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds), throughout the diet cannot be emphasized enough. The benefits—when compared to animal products—from the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals are backed by evidenced-based research over and over again. Limit the amount of animal products consumed; they are high in saturated fat and artery clogging ingredients. The sooner and more often you can trim the fat, the better. Moving meat from the center of the meal to a side dish is a simple way to start making changes.
Turn your loss into gains: muscle and confidence, that is
It is true that the more muscle you have, the more your body will turn into a fat-burning machine. This does not mean you have to be able to bench press your spouse or enter a bodybuilding contest. It simply means that the more muscle you have, the more efficient your body will be at burning excess fat. It will be a stronger, leaner, meaner fat burning machine.
Take up strength and resistance training two to three times a week. Of course, be sure you are doing it safely, namely by ensuring it is doctor approved and also that you seek advice from a professional on how to use the equipment correctly in order to avoid injury No time? Use items in the pantry or closet to add weight resistance to your tasks. You know that big bottle of laundry detergent sitting on the shelf? Use it to do two sets of 10-15 curls with each arm or lift two-gallon jugs of water up and down a flight of stairs. Using your own body weight can be great, too; try Pilates, yoga or even do some push-ups.
Not into these ideas? The point is to move—period. Any movement you consistently do on a regular basis is going to help your body in so many ways—from improving circulation, to burning calories, to keeping flexibility and natural reflexes in check to prevent falls and injuries later on in life. Play with your kids or grandkids outside (bundle up, cold should not be an excuse), or hook up some active video game programs like Wii or Dance Revolution if it is raining. Take your dog for a walk or walk a neighbor’s dog. Volunteer at an animal shelter, or run errands for someone. Do some jumping jacks or even walking around the mall at a brisk pace can be beneficial. Walk around or do lunges when you’re talking on the phone.
Get creative and know there are always ways you can build strength, flexibility, and improve health wherever you are in your fitness regimen. You’ll automatically experience a little more confidence since your body is working with you and you’re not working against it. You hold yourself a little taller and feel a little more capable, accomplished, and a whole lot more clear-headed. That glucose is in the cells and all systems are firing. Try treating your body like a cherished friend—with kindness, patience, love and care. You’ll be amazed at how it responds to what you ask it to do.
State of Franklin Healthcare Associates
Call us at 423.794.5590.
Sherman, J. The get-real diet. Vegetarian Times. January/February 2012
Spano, M. Weight Loss tips that work. Wellness Advisor Spring/Summer 2011.
Johnson, George B. Holt Biology: Visualizing Life. Orlando: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1994: 769.