From the Desk of The Nutty Nutritionist

Ten “Laws” of Healthy Weight Control

In Dining Out, Weight Loss, Wellness on March 21, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Similar to January 1st, the first day of spring extends an invitation for new beginnings and a fresh start.  How have you been doing with your promise to live healthier this year?  Are your health habits making you feel like a beautiful rose blossoming in the sun or more like a shriveled crocus getting its head lopped off by a bunny rabbit?  Do you still desire to shed those unwanted pounds before the boat goes in the water and the lazy days of summer begin?  Whether you want to feel better, lose weight, or prevent gaining a few extra pounds this season, incorporating these ten basic lifestyle “rules” can help you look and feel as bright as a sunny clear blue sky:

1.  Calorie awareness is essential

  • calories in (food) = calories out (activity) = weight maintenance
  • calories in < calories out = weight loss
  • calories in > calories out = weight gain
  • doesn’t matter the source of calories–if you eat too much, you will gain weight
  • overly restricting calories shuts your metabolism down so DO NOT undereat either (see #2)

2.  Do not eat less than 1200 calories per day

  • read labels and examine online resources to increase awareness and count calories if necessary
  • women:  aim for 300-400 calories/meal; 100-150 calories/snack
  • men:  aim for 400-600 calories/meal;100-200 calories/snack

3.  Monitor your current food intake and exercise habits regularly

  • record what you eat, how much you eat, & when you eat to uncover unhealthy habits
  • make comments regarding your eating situations–boredom, stress, watching TV, restaurant choices, etc.
  • select specific habits you are willing to change and make a plan to follow through

4.  Set small, achievable goals based on food diary revelations, such as:

  • increase fruits & vegetables, whole grains, water, exercise, fish, and/or making healthier snack choices
  • decrease sugary beverages, alcohol, fried foods, restaurant meal frequency, “indulgences”, sedentary activity

5.  Plan ahead for small, frequent meals to manage appetite

  • no meal skipping, as this just revs your appetite up for an evening binge
  • eat a healthy meal or snack every 3-4 hours
  • bring healthy choices with you when “out & about”  (pack your lunch!)
  • grocery shop from a list 1-2 x/week, and stick to that list!

6.  Adopt habits you can maintain long-term

  • no extreme dieting—this is only a temporary fix and will set you up for “yo-yo” weight fluctuations
  • no foods are completely off limits unless you choose them to be  (deprivation = binge later)
  • healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds/week — patience is a virtue!
  • “weight loss plateaus” will happen every 10-20 pounds — you must change up your diet and exercise routine frequently to keep your body from getting complacent
  • if you struggle to develop a plan on your own, hire a nutrition professional (like me!) to assist you

7.  Exercise is essential

  • regular activity that increases your heart rate and breathing rate is best
  • building muscle increases metabolism (which increases “calorie burn”)
  • plan exercise time into your schedule
  • choose activities you enjoy
  • the more the better—aim for 60 minutes a day as often as possible (break it into smaller chunks if necessary)

8.  Get adequate sleep

  • 7-8 hours best for most people
  • lack of sleep increases appetite and decreases satiety (feelings of fullness)
  • feeling well-rested keeps you motivated to maintain your healthy habits

9.  Manage stress

  • chronic stress increases cortisol levels leading to increased belly fat
  • feeling anxious & stressed increases the likelihood of emotional overeating
  • exercise is an excellent stress manager

10.  Make smart choices when dining out at least 80% of the time

  • Beware of calories—obtain nutrition info from outlets & online to increase awareness of your choices  (try to stay between 300-600 calories most of time)
  • Breakfast–avoid bagels, muffins, smoothies;  choose egg white wraps, oatmeal, Egg McMuffin at “quick grab” restaurants
  • Lunch–avoid pizza, pasta, high fat meats, large sandwiches; choose salad, soup, and sandwich combinations instead (but avoid creamy dressings and soups)
  • Dinner—choose chicken, turkey, and fish with vegetables/salad;  limit starches & bread; if portions are large, share or take half home for another meal
  • Coffee houses—many specialty drinks are LOADED with calories

I can taste a healthy and happy summer already!  Can you?

Any questions?  Feel free to ask! 

Live well!  Be well!

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