Besides the fact that most of us would like to lose some weight to look better, there’s the health factor that should be considered. Getting to and staying at our optimal weight has numerous benefits like a healthier heart, less stress on our joints, better blood pressure readings, less risk of diabetes, and on and on. But, let’s face it, losing weight is not an easy task. Below are some tips to help you along the way, but don’t think you have to make the changes all at once. Try one or two to begin with and then add others into your routine as you go.
1. Boost your cardio workout. If you’re in shape and have no health barriers, perform an aerobic workout every day for a week and then resume your regular workout schedule (3 to 4 times a week). Or increase your cardio time by 25 to 50 percent. The trick is to burn fat, which means you need to work at a certain level. A cardio boost will do that. Aerobic exercise is walking briskly, running, biking, treadmill, or stair-stepper.
2. Eat your biggest meal at breakfast, a moderate lunch, and a small dinner. At night, your body is more dormant and will burn a smaller meal more efficiently. A larger ‘quantity’ of food for breakfast is what we’re talking about – not a huge ham, eggs and pancake platter. Try to keep it low-fat. If you don’t like a lot of food first thing in the morning, split the quantity between breakfast and mid-morning snack.
3. Do interval training. Each day blend your aerobic and anaerobic workout. For example, do two sets of strength training, then one minute of jumping rope, running, or a fast pace on the treadmill. Then repeat for the length of your workout (30-45 minutes). The purpose of this cycle is to allow your body to have enough oxygen to really burn fat. There must be a high intake of oxygen in order to metabolize body fat and burn it.
4. Gain strength by means other than food. Try to get 8 good hours of sleep every night. Rest during the day when you get tired. Adopt a positive attitude about life. All of these things give you strength without the calories.
5. Don’t follow diets; make eating right an ongoing priority. Most diets focus on one food group at the expense of another and can cause an imbalance of nutrition. Metabolism goes down, craving for food may go up. Your body is trying to compensate for the change in diet and stores more fat. Eating right means balancing the food groups properly. You can cut down on excess fat, but take in more of the right kinds of protein, carbs and fiber to make you feel full and satisfied.
6. Cut calories while not slowing down your metabolism. Increase your exercise by a little more and make a slight adjustment to your calorie intake, but not a huge one, because you don’t want to throw your metabolism out of whack. Reduce your fat intake by 10-15 percent less fat a day to begin.
7. Divert yourself at times of craving. Curbing your eating behavior at the times you’re most likely to eat bad foods can involve physical activity, although that may not work for some people. Get out of the house and take a walk, clean house, work on a craft project, or get on the Internet – anything that takes your mind off of snacking.
8. Eat more fiber and drink a lot of water. These two things go hand in hand. Eating more fiber is extremely good for you health-wise, (reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, and constipation) but it also helps you feel full and satisfied with fewer calories than high-fat foods. Remember, you still have to count your calories, but they’ll be more nutritious and filling. When you increase your fiber intake, you should always increase the amount of water you drink to promote good elimination of the bowel tract.
9. Consider mental support. Besides supportive people, like those found in Weight Watchers and other support groups, you might consider subliminal weight-loss tapes. They work for some people. Or even hypnosis. If done properly, hypnosis has been known to help people lose their desire to overeat.
10. Reduce lifestyle barriers that make weight-loss difficult. Are there fat-laden vending machines at work? If so, make sure you take plenty of healthy, low-fat snacks (that you actually like) to work, and don’t walk by those machines unless you absolutely have to. Do you dislike going to the gym? If so, set aside a place in your house and commit to working out at home with a treadmill, stationary bike, or whatever piece of equipment you enjoy. Does your mother make your favorite fat-laden meal for you every Wednesday night? If so, enlist her support and ask her to change to a hearty bean soup and a healthy vegetable salad instead so that you can continue to have quality family time.