Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Magic 500

I know a way you can reduce your weight by 52 pounds!  Imagine this time next year you weigh 52 pound lighter than you do today.  No, there are no special tonic drops to place under your tongue...no special incantations to chant at sunrise...not even any special equipment to strap onto your body.  This method simply involves a slight change in what you're eating, according to a very commonsensical approach I read about recently in Eating Well magazine.

Here's how it works:

Multiply your current body weight by 12.  This is the number of calories you should consume per day to maintain your current body weight.  Subtract 500 from this total to see how many calories you should consume to lose one pound per week.  Losing one pound per week may not sound exciting and dramatic yet consider that in one month you can lose over 4 pounds.  In one year – 52 pounds

Experts agree that the slower your weight comes off, the more likely it will STAY off for life.  Finding ways to REDUCE your caloric in-take by 500 calories every day can come from various angles.  Incremental, “baby steps” are the easiest ways to create new, life-long habits.

Try the following steps:
1.    Adjust portion sizes:  Utilize websites like nutirtiondata.com and calorieking.com to find out how many calories you are actually consuming when you eat.  Measure your portions for a few days to get an idea of what a serving of particular foods should look like (ex:  a serving of meat should be no larger than a typical deck of playing cards).
2.    Record everything you eat for at least 3 days.  Getting an accurate record of what you are eating (and drinking) is THE only way to know how much food and how many calories you are actually consuming.  Many people grossly UNDERESTIMATE how much they are taking in.  DON’T GUESS!  Make an accurate record!
3.    Use smaller dishes.  The standard dinner plate in Europe measures 10-inches in diameter.  In the US, they are commonly 12-inches.  Those two inches make a HUGE difference.  Studies show that the more space we have to fill on a dish, the more we pile on.  Using smaller plates automatically force you to use smaller servings.  When eating at restaurants, consider ordering an appetizer and a salad, rather than a salad and an entrĂ©e.  Automatically, you will get a smaller serving.
4.    Look for the hidden “extras”.  Coffee creamer and half-n-half…   Juices and any other beverage other than water…  Commercially-prepared smoothies…  A piece of candy from time to time in the office candy dish…  A bite or two of food off of the kids’ plates…  The bread on sandwiches and buns on burgers…  Salad dressings and sandwich condiments…  Bread with butter or olive oil…  Dips, cheeses and toppings…  All of these things add extra calories (as well as chemicals and fats) that we simply do not need and won’t even miss once we start eliminating them from our daily routines.  Look for health substitutions or compromises to help ease away from the things you simply can’t imagine doing without:
  • Limit yourself to only one cup of coffee per day and gradually switch to skim milk, or eliminate the white stuff completely.
  • Replace all other beverages with water (even sparkling water), GREATLY lowering sugar and empty-calorie consumption.
  • Alter your habits so that you can avoid the desks with the candy dishes or the office kitchen with the pastries.
  • If you can’t imagine a sandwich or burger without the bread, consider removing the top piece and eating it as an open-faced sandwich for a while, then switch to ‘naked’ (ie:  minus the bread completely).  If you are eating in a place that would make this proposition too messy (ie:  a fast food restaurant), you probably should not be eating any of their food anyway.
  • When dining out, request that your server NOT bring the breadbasket to your table.  Skipping this mindless eating allows your stomach to be filled with foods that offer more useful nutrients.  Better still – skip eating out completely as often as possible.
  • Dress your salads with lemon or lime juice and flavorful herbs instead of oily salad dressings.
  • Decrease your taste preference for salty and sugary foods by decreasing the amount of salt and sugar you use in your own foods, and (this is KEY) eating foods YOU prepare yourself rather than pre-packaged foods.  The sweet and salty tastes are actually appetite stimulants – making you want MORE food when you are eating these flavors.

Is it realistic to attempt to reach and maintain your “ideal” weight?  If you’re looking for a dramatic, quick-fix, probably not.  If you are looking for gradual change like reducing your caloric in-take by 500 calories each day, ABSOLUTELY!

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