Monthly Archives: July 2016

Weight Loss Success!!

weight loss journeyLosing weight is so much easier when you have the right weight loss expectations.   The focus should be on the process rather than the number.  Whether it’s a special event, a sexy swimsuit, or a little black dress, if there’s a deadline with a lofty pound goal, few achieve it and maintain it.  Once that deadline or event has passed, the motivation to continue evaporates.  It’s kind of like hiking:  If you only like the view from the top of the mountain, and not the climb, then the task can seem insurmountable.  But if you can go at a slower pace, enjoy the surroundings and views along the way, not only do you get to enjoy the view at the top, but you will enjoy the process in getting there.   Losing weight is all about making the process fun and interesting.

Setting Weight Loss Expectations

Here’s how you can enjoy the journey of losing weight while reaching your goal.

  1. Know that one pound is all anyone should lose in a week.  Aggressive weight loss requires too drastic a change in eating.  And losing more than two pounds a week will yield a loss in muscle mass, which will slow down your metabolism.  Each pound amounts to about 3500 calories.  If cutting out 500 calories a day sounds like a recipe for deprivation, then aim for a half pound weight loss a week.  Remember, this is not just a journey, but a destination you don’t want to leave.  If the changes feel awkward or tedious, they will not stick.
  2. Start by knowing where your calories are coming from.  Either use a tracking tool like Myfitnesspal or just track your fat grams which is much easier than tracking calories.  Tracking gives you information about your food choices.  Not tracking is like hiking a mountain without sign posts or cairns.  It’s going to take a lot longer to get to your goal and there’s a good chance you will get lost.  Tracking just fat grams makes is much simpler and helps rein in lots of calories since there are more than twice the calories in a gram of fat as there are in protein and carbohydrate sources.  The American Heart Association recommends getting between 25-35% of your calories from fat.  To determine what that looks like, take 25% of the average 2000 calorie diet, divide it by 9 to get about 55 gms of fat a day.   The Diabetes Prevention Program set fat gram goals based on weight with a minimum daily amount of 33 gms.  You want to consume at least 33 grams of fat to ensure  your body is getting all the nutrients it needs, especially vitamins A, D, E and K, but also eat enough in order to stay full between meals.  It’s a balancing act.
  3. Know your fat culprits.  The usual culprits are salad dressings, cheese, red meat, excessive noshing on nuts, chips, ice cream, full fat dairy and fried foods.  Small reductions can make a huge difference.  Skipping that piece of cheese on your sandwich will save you 10 gms of fat or 90 calories.  Cutting your salad dressing in half by adding more vinegar, low fat milk or water can save you another 100-200 calories.   Your heart will love you for reducing some of the saturated fats found in most of these.
  4. Eat 3 meals a day.  Do not skip meals.  Skipping meals slows down metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight.  Skipping meals will also make you hungrier and make you overeat at your next meal.  A meal can be as simple as a small low-fat Greek yogurt or a couple of Wasa crackers with peanut butter.
  5. Make sure you are getting enough protein at every meal, especially breakfast.  Don’t waste your time on cereal unless it’s whole grain.  Any other cereal will only make you hungry mid-morning because most cereals do not have enough protein and fiber.  Good sources of protein are fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt, egg whites/eggs, lean meat, fish or tofu.
  6. Keep night snacking to a popsicle or a piece of fruit.  And keep sipping water, seltzer or some nice teas.  I’ve come to love my Wissotzky teas in the evening.  It gives me a unique ginger flavor and warm fluids that reduces my hunger and keeps me on task.
  7. Keep a supply of meals you can reheat in the freezer for those stressful days when you don’t want to cook.  Soups and small casseroles work really well and don’t take much time to make an extra one.
  8. Get family and friends on board!  Find and share recipes.  Get a Fitbit and have step challenges.  Reach out to them when you are stressed.
  9. Know this is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.  Weight usually comes on over many years, so naturally it should come off over a slow steady period of time.
  10. Weigh yourself no more often than once a week.  Weight naturally fluctuates depending on our activity, salt consumption and day-to-day food choices.  If you are someone who gets really discouraged if the scale hasn’t moved in a week, then weigh yourself every few weeks and use a pair of snug fitting pants to be your guide.

It’s The Journey, Not The Destination

Even if you just lose 5% of your weight, that could be as little as 8-10 pounds, you will have significant health benefits with improved:

  • blood pressure
  • blood sugar
  • triglycerides
  • LDL

You will notice you move better, you sleep better and your outlook will be better.  Life isn’t about getting things perfect; it’s about making things better, especially with you.  One step at a time on your journey to your future destination of a healthier you.

Barbara writes a biweekly blog to help inform and empower people to live healthy lives.  Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word.

Fat Calories in common foods

Fat Culprits In Your Diet

Most people know the difference between good fats and bad fats but do they realize making even small changes in the amounts of the usual culprits high in fat calories can help them lose up to a pound a month with no pain?  Everyone thinks that eating a salad for lunch is going to move that scale needle southward.  But when you load that salad with nuts, olives, avocado, cheese and dressing, that healthy salad can deliver as many calories as a Big Mac with fries.

Fat Calories Add Up

Fat calories are twice as potent as calories from carbohydrates and protein.  There are 9 calories in a gram of fat versus only 4 calories in a gram of carbohydrate and protein.  The chart below lists some common foods that people eat regularly that are high in the heart healthy unsaturated fats but calorie dense because they are high in fat. fat calories in good fatsEaten without attention to portion sizes, these foods can pack a lot of calories.  A salad topped with 10 olives, half an avocado, 2 oz of chopped nuts, a few slices of cheese and some dressing can deliver over 1000 calories, or more than the 930 calories in a Big Mac with medium fries.  And you salad eaters are thinking, “that salad didn’t even contain one carbohydrate, so it’s got to help me lose weight, right?”  Nope.  fat calories in salad dressing

Salad dressing is the big calorie kicker depending on the choice.  Two Tbsp of Caesar salad dressing delivers 165 calories, and that’s if you are measuring.  If you are getting your salad from the grocery store and pouring the dressing from those large containers, how do you really know?  I know the prepackaged servings of dressings at the deli near me is a 1/4 cup serving or 4 Tbsp.  That can be at least 290 calories.

What if you are adding extra “healthy ingredients” like artichokes or some of the other vegetable like the ones in the Whole Food’s salad bar that are swimming in oil; that adds additional calories.

Count Your Fat Culprits

The CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program focused on the total grams of fat in the diet with fat gram goals geared around an individual’s weight.  CDC Fat Gram GoalI always thought it was strange that a diabetes program would focus on fat and not carbohydrates, but truthfully it is much simpler to track just fats than total calories.  Furthermore, you get more bang for your effort by reducing total grams of fat since they are high in calories.  With 3600 calories in a pound, cutting out 15 gms of daily fat will mean a one pound weight loss in about 27 days.  That doesn’t seem like much, but that’s 14 pounds in a year and it’s painless with just a little awareness and a few substitutions.  low fat substitutioinsHere’s how you can find cut those fat grams in just your lunch salad.  Reducing the avocado to  one quarter will save 7 gms of fat.  Cutting the portion of nuts in half will save you another 7 gms.  Using fat-free Feta cheese, which is sharp and still has the consistency of cheese, will save you another 10 gms.  Being mindful of salad dressing portion sizes, or better yet making your own by using a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to oil (I like adding lemon juice and herbs to mine) will save you another 7 gms.  With just these suggestions you would save 21 gms of fat, 190 calories and a pound in 19 days.  That doesn’t even include making other small changes like switching to light mayo, or using mustard or hummus in lieu of mayo on sandwiches, or using fat-free Greek yogurt instead of mayo or sour cream in dips.

Your Culprits Are Calorie Dense

Often times I hear people being frustrated that they are not losing weight despite their best intentions of eating a salad every day.  Making these small changes are painless and yield big results.  It doesn’t take a radical diet to lose weight.  It takes knowing what your culprits are, making small changes that don’t lead to feelings of deprivation, and being mindful of portion sizes.  Losing weight gradually is a much healthier and more sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off.  That’s the healthy way to a happy weigh!

Barbara writes a biweekly blog to help inform and empower people to live healthy lives.  Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word.