50 Healthy Habits to Take Off 50 Pounds In a YearPosted May 15th, 2008 by Site Administrator in Health (2 Comments »)
Losing weight is difficult, especially if you’ve grown comfortable with the way you feel. But have you looked in a mirror recently? Has your comfort has become detrimental to your health? Being overweight significantly increases your risk of just about every disease known to mankind. Plus, your weight may contribute to riskier treatment and longer recovery if you do become sick or if you need surgery.
The following list is designed to help you lose fifty pounds within one year by changing unhealthy choices to healthy choices. If you do the math, this means that you can lose approximately one pound per week if you follow the suggestions listed below. Of course, you possibly could lose those fifty pounds within a month if you eat nothing but celery and exercise 24/7, but why think about torturing yourself to become healthy? Losing weight can become an agreeable challenge that may change your life for the better, but only if you don’t bite off more than you can chew (literally).
The first steps to begin a healthy weight-loss program are usually the hardest. But, if you can adopt even one or two of the following life-changing suggestions, you may begin to realize that this healthy weight-loss task may not be so difficult after all:
- Set a goal: You may not need to lose fifty pounds. Or, you may need to lose more than fifty pounds. You may have a certain clothing size in mind, or an ideal weight goal. Are your goals realistic? Realistic goals are more attainable and satisfying, so discover if you’re on target by using a body weight calculator.
- Take “Before” and “After” photos: If you can still fit into last year’s bathing suit, don that puppy and get someone you trust to take ‘before’ photos from all four sides. That’s one way to capture reality. The ‘after’ photos are much more fun, and if you take them once a month over the upcoming year, you’ll begin to see your progress visually.
- Tell your friends and family about your goal: You don’t need to talk about your weight-loss goals constantly. Just let them know you’re taking care of your health and you need their support. If you don’t inform them about your goals, then you run the risk of sabotaging your efforts. The hardest person to get on your side may be your partner or spouse. They may like you “just as you are,” because they may fear the changes you’re about to make. Remember that you’re making these changes for your health.
- Learn how to measure your food: You don’t need expensive equipment to accomplish this task, as you can use your hand as a substitute for various measurements. While the portions contained in that link are easy to remember, the best tool to help avoid overeating is to realize that your stomach, when empty, is about the size of your fist. But, the stomach can expand to include that 14-ounce steak along with that baked potato loaded with butter and sour cream and that cheesecake for dessert. If you remember the ‘fist’ measurement, you may begin to feel better about yourself as you reduce the size of your meals (as compensation, you’ll soon learn that can eat more than three meals per day).
- Use the scales: You can measure your weight-loss progress with scales. Some experts state you shouldn’t weigh yourself more than once per week. However, if you want to weigh yourself every day, go for it. But, realize that daily weight loss measurements are tricky – they’re like taking two steps forward and one step backward. Use a weekly number to chart your real progress. And, try to weigh yourself at the same time each day (say, before you eat breakfast).
- Food is not a therapist: Learn other ways to deal with your emotions other than eating. When food is used as a substitute for therapy, it may cost you more in the long run than seeing an actual therapist. If you use food as a means to fight boredom, find other ways to fill your time (like following the suggestions listed here).
- Look for silver linings: A defeatist attitude doesn’t win rewards. If avoiding food is difficult for you, find a mantra that you can repeat such as, “I want to look fabulous for my 25th reunion.” If exercise brings you to tears, try, “I can do this for thirty minutes.” Keep repeating those mantras, and before you know it something else will capture your attention.
- Dear Food Diary: If you begin to keep a food diary, you can begin to learn how much you really consume, when you’re prone to eat more, and how you feel when you’re eating (go back to #6). Find a printable chart that allows room for notes so you remember to jot down everything that you eat or drink as you eat or drink (even water). This effort will help you learn about correct portions and to keep track of your nutrients, as well as learn about your previous habits so you know what you need to change.
- Clean out the kitchen cabinets and pantry: You want to remove temptation when possible. But, don’t use this suggestion as an excuse to eat your way through all the junk food piled up in your kitchen storage areas. Instead, use this exercise as a way to learn how to read labels (see #14 below). As you learn more about the difference between ‘healthy’ food and junk, you can begin to toss those foods that will clog your arteries and keep those foods that may be useful.
- Clean out your closet: You may have clothes that you used to wear “back when” you were thin. Keep those clothes if you want to use them as an incentive to reach your goal. Otherwise, donate them or sell them in a yard sale. Purchase new clothes as you begin to lose weight and donate the “fat” clothes that don’t fit anymore. The idea of having to purchase new “fat” clothes may deter you from gaining weight again. If you want to go this route, avoid expensive clothes until you reach your ‘ideal’ weight. Instead, shop at consignment stores where you can find designer labels at bargain-basement prices.
- Develop attitude: No matter how unhealthy or overweight you feel, try to dress your best – even when at home alone. Wearing sloppy x-large t-shirts and sweatpants only allows you to hide from yourself, not from others. When you do go out to eat with family, friends or business associates, your care to your dress will garner compliments, which will remind you why you’re going through this lifestyle change in the first place.
At the Grocery Store
Learning how to shop for healthy food takes a lifetime of learning, so please don’t feel discouraged if this task seems overwhelming. Instead, use the following tips to help streamline your shopping excursions.
- Follow a diet plan: Find a diet that seems healthy to you (or that has been recommended for you), and borrow from their food plan to build a shopping list.
- Avoid these foods: Shopping is easier if you remember to: 1) avoid partially hydrogenated oils; 2) avoid high-fructose corn syrup; 3) choose a short ingredient list over a long ingredient list on any label, and; 4) look for two or more grams of fiber per 100 calories in all grain products such as breads, cereals, crackers and chips.
- Read labels: Bring a magnifying glass with you if you need it, as label-reading can provide a wealth of information. You can learn about all the nutrients and additives, calories, and serving sizes for each item from that label. Usually, all the information provided is meant for one serving, so note the number of servings per container. If it says, “1,” then it’s a perfect size for one individual. If it says “2,” then find someone to share that item with you.
- Avoid junk and fast food: You can avoid entire aisles at the grocery store if you take a list with you. A planned, rather than impromptu, trip to the grocery store will insure that you have all the healthy food you need at home. No need to visit the junk food section, no need to head out for fast food.
- Linger in the vegetable section: Get to know vegetables, as they are your friends. You can eat more food if you bulk it up with vegetables. Add them to omelets, pasta, and sandwiches to gain more satisfaction from your meals.
- Avoid white foods: White foods usually equal foods filled with white flour and/or sugar. Both products will play with your blood sugar and lead to weight gain. Instead, look for brown while grain breads and brown rice, as these foods will fill you up, provide fiber, and contribute to your healthy new lifestyle.
- Avoid red meat: If you like to eat meat, head toward the chicken and fish rather than the red meat. Red meat can contribute to many physical problems, including colon cancer.
- Use spices: Flavorings such as hot sauce and spices will help you wean yourself away from relying on butter and high-calories sauces to flavor your foods. These spices contain few calories and plenty of flavor.
- Buy fruit instead of fruit juice: Fruit juice often contains extra sugars and additives (unless it’s 100% fruit juice). If you eat the actual fruit, you gain fiber and you feel fuller for the same (and often less!) calorie count.
- Think small: You may purchase food in bulk if you have a large family, but that doesn’t mean that you need to eat bulk-sized portions. When you buy meat, buy smaller cuts. When you order a sub, order the six-inch sub rather than the twelve-inch sub. Think small, and you can reduce your daily calorie count by the hundreds.
- Try a frozen diet dinner: Frozen foods often contain high sodium and additives so you don’t want to make a habit of eating them; however, you might try one or two diet meals a week just to learn about portion sizes. These frozen dinners are ideal tools to understand how to portion your vegetables, starches and protein. Plus, some meals even contain a low-calorie dessert!
The Dining Room
- Paint the dining room blue: The color blue is an appetite suppressant, which is why you’ll never see that color in any fast food restaurant. Use blue plates, a blue tablecloth, or paint the walls blue to help keep your hunger at bay.
- Use smaller plates: If you pile a small plate with food, that’s still less food than a large plate piled with food. Also, try using smaller glasses for juices, coffee, etc.
- Leave bowls of food in the kitchen: If the food isn’t on the table, you can’t reach for it. By the time you put down that napkin and stand up and grab your plate to head for the kitchen, that time will provide enough space to think twice about that second helping.
- Keep vegetables on the table: If you keep a plate of sliced vegetables handy on the table, you can appease your urge for second helpings in a healthy and satisfying way. Eating water-rich foods such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers during meals reduces your overall calorie consumption and they will fill you up fast. One example from that link: “Pasta salad bulked up with zucchini, carrots and other veggies, which have a high water content, can provide a portion double the size for the same calories as a salad made without the veggies.”
- Shut down the kitchen after every meal: After every meal, put everything away, take care of the dishes, wipe down counters and turn off the light. Your kitchen isn’t a restaurant, so you can “close shop” after each meal. This habit will help you to reduce calories by eliminating between-meal and late-night snacks.
- Brush your teeth after every meal: A clean taste in your mouth will become a signal that you are through eating, and this habit even may lead to a new lifestyle.
What You Drink
- Drink your coffee black: Stick with plain ol’ Jane coffee rather than the fancy brands. Every bit of cream, sugar, whipped cream and sweet syrup you use in your coffee will pack on the calories. Once you get used to the coffee without all those condiments, you may actually taste the coffee.
- Read the labels (again): Even a one-calorie soda can add to the pounds. If you drink one one-calorie soda per day, that’s 365 calories per year, or about 1/3 pound of body weight. When added to other excess calories (that one bite of cookie, or that extra glass of juice, or that handful of chips), then you easily can add 100 or more calories per day over your goal, or one pound per year.
- Drink more water: Once you read those labels, you might not want some of those extra ingredients in your body. You can continue with your coffee and/or juice before or with breakfast, but drink water after breakfast for the rest of the day. You might want to print out this information about what soda does to your body and tape it to your fridge to help you avoid temptation. Water is zero calories, but it may seem boring. Add some lemon or lime juice from a real lemon or lime until you get into the water habit.
- Switch from whole milk to milk with less fat: Each step downward from whole milk to 2% mile to 1% milk to skim cuts calories by twenty percent with each reduction. Once you’ve made the switch to skim milk from whole milk, you will have reduced your calories by half and trimmed fat by 95 percent. And, don’t believe the dairy industry when they advertise about losing weight by drinking milk. Milk cannot help you to lose weight.
- Order by the glass: If you want to have wine, order by the glass and not by the bottle. If you want a beer, order by the glass and not by the pitcher. A glass of wine and an occasional beer may not harm your health, but alcohol contains sugar and is high in calories. So, moderation is key so you can keep track of how much you drink at any one sitting.
How You Eat
- Avoid fried foods: Try grilling, baking,roasting, broiling, boiling, or raw foods to cut calories and fat. Fried foods can contribute to cancer risk, let alone add more fat to your diet.
- Begin with soup or salad: This habit will help reduce your desire ro overeat, and it will add water-rich foods to your diet (see #25). Try to avoid cream- or milk-based soups, as those soups provide more calories and fat. Dip your fork into salad dressing rather than pouring over your salad. This habit will provide you with that taste you want, but you’ll end up eating less dressing.
- Finish with fruit: Substitute fruit for dessert for added fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Eat more often: Think of your body as a furnace and the food as the fuel that stokes the fire. If you pile on too much fuel at one sitting, it’s just like adding too much wood to the fire at one time. Instead, eat more often throughout the day and in smaller portions, much like adding small portions of wood to a fire to keep it burning stable all day long. Your body will release less insulin, which keeps blood sugar steady. Additionally, smaller meals more often will help control hunger (see below).
- Cut back on portions: This practice is especially helpful when you dine out at restaurants. Restaurants serve overly-large portions on large plates. When you plate arrives, set aside one-third of your food to take home with you for a later meal. You’ll eat less and save money as you turn one meal into two!
- Eat at home: It’s difficult to eat at home when you work at an office, especially for lunch. But, if you can eat most of your meals at home or prepare your lunches for the office, you have more control over the ingredients in your meals and you don’t need to worry about food quality or quantity.
- Be mindful of what you eat: Eat slowly and calmly, because your food isn’t going to get up and run away and this practice is better for your health. Put your fork down between each bite until you get in the habit of chewing food before you swallow it. Chewing helps your digestive juices, and eating slowly will help you learn to “feel” when you’re full.
Oh Yes — And Exercise
No exercise is created equal, which is a good thing, because everyone is different. No matter if you like to run, jog, walk, ride a bicycle, dance or stretch – the important thing is to get up and move to something you enjoy. Moving burns calories and burning calories will help you to lose weight, reduce blood pressure and increase metabolism. Don’t do too much too soon if you’ve been inactive, and don’t believe the “no pain, no gain” mentality. The following tips focus mainly on walking, an easy exercise that provides plenty of healthy weight-loss results.
- One pound per week: If you’re not losing one pound per week on your chosen diet and exercise programs, then you may have stalled or finished all these programs have to offer. You may need to push yourself a little harder or even rest for a week or two until you body catches up with all the changes you’ve made. Alternately, if you’re losing more than one pound per week, you’re doing great – just don’t expect to lose a pound per day, otherwise you can become ill. See your doctor if you are losing too much weight too quickly, especially if you aren’t on a diet or exercise plan.
- Muscle weighs more than fat: Muscle does weigh more than fat, which may be why you’ve stalled out on your program if you’ve been lifting weights or doing strength training. However, you don’t want to lose that muscle. Muscle helps to burn fat, and you’ll begin to see results in your shape within weeks after you begin to exercise.
- Buy a pedometer: You don’t need an expensive pedometer, but don’t skimp on this item, either. Once you own one, clip it to the waist of your pants and start walking. Try to aim for 5,000 steps a day if you’re unaccustomed to walking. Then, see what it would take for you to reach 10,000 steps per day. The first goal will help you maintain weight, and 10,000 steps per day will help you lose weight.
- Walk before dinner: If you take a short twenty-minute walk before you eat dinner you’ll help to suppress your appetite.
- Use the stairs: Spend 10 minutes a day walking up and down stairs. The Centers for Disease Control says that’s all it takes to help you shed as much as 10 pounds a year (assuming you don’t start eating more).
- Walk instead of snacking: If you feel the urge for a snack, get up and walk right past that refrigerator. Short walks are as beneficial as long ones, and these short jaunts may help you to get past that craving as you stretch your legs and work off pent-up energy.
- Do housework with energy: Vacuuming, scrubbing, cleaning and washing all burn calories. Who knew that spring/summer/fall/winter cleaning could be so healthy?
- Sacrifice some TV: Decide now which shows you can sacrifice, as exercise will cut into yout TV time. Plus, it’s difficult to snack out on high-calorie foods when you’re on that treadmill or lifting those weights.
- Find a weight-loss buddy: Or, a walking buddy or a diet buddy. Find someone who needs a friend as well to get through some tough times on this change of lifestyle. You’ll encourage each other and the companionship will make time fly. Find an online buddy, as this plan works just as well.
- Kiss someone you love: Yes — kissing is an aerobic exercise and it burns approximately 6.4 calories per minute. If you kiss a person you love (not just anyone, mind you) for ten minutes a day, you could lose up to eight pounds per year!
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