It is common to add a pound or two over the winter. And while it might not be so noticeable under a big sweater and jacket, the summer attire is not so accommodating!
It can be a daunting task to drop weight, so here are a few tips to help make the job a little less intimidating an idea!
1. Calorie intake is key – you can exercise all you want, but if you are eating too many calories in a day, you just can’t exercise enough to burn them all off! Every little bit makes a difference. Cut a little out of every meal you eat. A little less mayonnaise on your sandwich, use a smaller dinner plate, have a glass of water instead of second helpings of food, drink herbal tea in the evening rather than snacking. There are many great strategies to use, but the bottom line is we as a society, eat way too much. Cut back a little, eat more vegetables, and enjoy the feeling of being hungry every once in a while.
2. Exercise for the health of it – we have all heard the health benefits of exercise, but it also helps with your weight loss goals by just making you feel better about yourself. I find that when I am exercising regularly, I actually crave healthy food more, and I feel happy and energized and less in need of “comfort foods”. Another great bonus to exercise is that the more time you spend doing stuff, the less time you have to be bored and snack!
3. Try to eat 80 percent alkaline foods. There are some great alkaline food charts online, but the general rule is most fruits and vegetables are alkalizing, whereas dairy, meat and most grains are acidic. Maintaining a high alkaline diet will help reduce inflammation in the body, aiding tissue health, recovery, and possibly reducing chances of developing chronic inflammatory conditions. In general you will feel better, do more, eat more vegetables and therefore eat less empty calories!
4. Reduce stress – we all seem to live stress-filled lives these days. Stress affects our weight loss endeavors in many ways. Stress increases cortisol levels in the body, which in turn increase fat storage in the body – especially around the waist! Stress also puts us in the “fight or flight” nervous system response, which impairs digestion. If digestion is affected, our ability to absorb ingested nutrients decreases, and so we feel “hungry” because we are lacking nutrients. It isn’t that we haven’t eaten enough, it is that we haven’t utilized the nutrients eaten. Snacking is the result, and we all know where that gets us! There are, of course many ways to help cope with stress, including massage, meditation, yoga, exercise, laughter, hobbies, and the list goes on! Find a few that work for you and make them a part of your life!
5. Don’t drink your calories away– alcohol, pop, juice, smoothies and special coffee drinks can be devastating to your weight loss endeavors. Drinks can be quite high in calories, and our body often doesn’t register these calories as it does when we eat them. Smoothies can be healthy if made with good ingredients, but if you drink them too fast or without conscious thought, they become a pre-meal beverage, rather than a meal replacement. Choose your beverages wisely!
6. Embrace change – if you are gaining weight every winter you are doing something wrong. There, I said it. We all like to kid ourselves that we eat healthy “most of the time”, and have “tried everything” to lose weight, but the truth is we ignore our indiscretions all the time. Health is a lifestyle choice, and it doesn’t include potato chips, dairy queen blizzards and sedentary winter months. When I was a kid, treats were just that, special things that we had every once in a long while. Today treats are a daily occurrence. When they become common place they are no longer special, and so just become a normal part of our diet. Commit to embracing a new way of eating. Don’t diet until you lose the weight, change the way you eat a little bit every day, making each choice a little more healthy than the last. Then, every once in a long while, enjoy a real treat.