American adults are carrying around more excess baggage than ever, and industries associated with weight loss are booming as a result. According to American Heart Association statistics for 2013, more than 154 million Americans age 20 and older, are overweight or obese. The good news is that shedding even a few pounds can make a huge difference-both in quality and quantity of life. Scientific data suggests that peeling off as little as 20 pounds can greatly benefit blood pressure, and reduce risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol levels.
Most overweight people feel uncomfortable with their fat and would love to make those unwanted pounds disappear forever. The most recent magic pill, the newest fad diet, or the latest bariatric surgeries seem to beckon at every media turn. After much deprivation and sheer willpower, some stalwarts find temporary success, but for most people, it’s only a temporary fix. It takes a lot of resolve to stick to a program promising a svelte silhouette and some people give up along the way. Depressed, they revert to unhealthy lifestyle patterns that promoted packing on pesky pounds in the first place. If you are one of the thousands seeking help in this area, following are some helpful hints to tip the scales in your favor.
Get Enough Sleep: Research shows that adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night. Those who shortcut snoozing generally have a higher body mass index (BMI). Lack of sleep triggers imbalanced metabolism involving the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin signals when you’ve had enough to eat and ghrelin controls hunger impulses. A reduction in the output of these hormones increases appetite and leads to cravings for foods high in sugar and starch. Inadequate or erratic sleep patterns also decrease insulin receptor sensitivity. This raises your body’s insulin levels, impairing your ability to metabolize fat, which leads to weight gain.
Fill Up On Fiber: Emphasize a diet high in fiber and nutrient-dense, water-rich foods: homemade vegetable soups, salads, fruits, and vegetables — instead of low-fiber, nutrient-poor foods from boxes, bags, and cans. A plant-based diet is typically lower in calories than its processed counterparts and is rich in nutrition such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes and essential fatty acids.Whole foods also give you an extra bonus: helping to control your appetite. For instance, eating an apple before a meal could curtail cravings for extras because it’s naturally high in fiber and natural sugars. The chewing process also promotes balanced digestion.
Trade Fat Foods For Lean: Instead of eating high-fat dairy foods like hard cheddar cheese, try healthier choices like natural unsweetened yogurt or cottage cheese. Mix in small pieces of chopped fruit of your choice for extra flavor. Cut down on heavy meat consumption and instead of making a steak or fried chicken the star of your meal, consider it a supporting player. Try adding bits of meat to a stir fry, salad, or soup. Besides eliminating extra calories, you’ll save on your grocery bill, too!
Cleanse from the Inside Out: Drinking enough pure water daily will assist you in reaching your ideal weight loss goal. A standard rule suggested by health experts is to take the number of pounds you weigh and divide by two. The dividend will give you the total ounces you should drink each day. An adult body is comprised, on average, of 55-60 percent water. Water is used for many metabolic processes, including transporting nutrients through the bloodstream to the cells and tissues and helping the body flush out toxins and waste material.
Use Portion Control: Train your appetite down by arranging food attractively on a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Become a minimalist: instead of an entire sandwich and a bowl of soup, try eating a half-sandwich and a cup of soup (homemade, of course!). Take the time to create a week’s menu in advance; don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what you want to eat. Resist the urge to go back for seconds and, when possible, freeze leftovers for a later meal. Wait until your body signals you that it’s hungry before you eat and then consume just enough to satisfy the need. Don’t gulp your food but chew thoroughly, enjoying each tantalizing bite. This will promote satiety-a feeling of fullness.
Don’t Eat When Stressed: Food can be your worst enemy when you are upset or bored. Stay clear of the kitchen if you’re feeling tired, anxious or worried. Take a walk or read your favorite book instead. The snacking gremlins will come out to plague you if you disobey this rule, and they will usually taunt you with temptations to eat sugar, fat, or carbs. Pay no heed to your snack attacks or else those extra calories enjoyed through the day will add up quickly and find their way into onto your hips and thighs.
Exercise On a Regular Basis: A combination of aerobic and strength training routines will help you get in shape, so move those muscles! Balance aerobic workouts (such as swimming, jogging, brisk walking, dancing) with strength training exercises-where your muscles exert force against some form of resistance, like free weights. Aerobic exercise enhances cardiovascular health while strength training helps decrease body fat, enhances lean muscle mass, and boosts your metabolism. Fitness trainers estimate it takes five pounds of muscle to burn one pound of fat, so exercising regularly helps keep that extra padding at bay. They suggest alternating aerobic workout and strength training days for at least 30 minutes each session to give your body maximum benefit. Establish a set time daily for your routine and buddy up with someone else to help keep you on target.
Exert Mind Over Matter: Use visualization to kick-start your weight loss goals into reality. Imagine yourself as the slim and trim person you wish to be. Post “skinny pictures” from magazines around the house where you will see them daily. Tap into the power of your subconscious with positive affirmations such as, “Every day in every way, I’m getting slimmer and fitter.” This will help you get through the rough days when all you feel like doing is caving in and eating a box of chocolates!
Feeling overwhelmed? No worries here. Involve a trusted friend or family member who can help cheer you on. Ideally, you should put together an initial 30-day plan for success. Set incremental goals, taking one step at a time, until you establish a weekly habit and pattern. Don’t give up, but stay the course. In the process, you’ll watch your confidence grow and feel those pounds melt away!