Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Views on Weight Loss

Lately I've been thinking a lot about weight loss and such because I've been wanting to lose a few pounds, or at the very least not gain anything. So I thought I'd share my thoughts with whomever is interested in knowing it.

You can probably tell by my picture I'm not really fat by any means, but even so, I found my body mass index online, and according to it, I'm slightly overweight. Since I'm only 25, I thought I'd better do something about it now (especially before I have children) or it will a lot harder when I'm older. So I started exercising three days a week and paying more attention to what I eat. My goal is to eat 1500 calories every day, figuring that that is probably less than how many calories I should eat (but this is totally an estimate). I admit it's been hard because it requires me to eat less than I'm used to and I feel hungry a lot, but I also realize that this is mostly mental and as long as I keep it up, I'll be a lot healthier for. I'm not a dietitian or an expert on this subject, so don't take my views as such, but I have learned a lot through the internet, health classes, magazines, and television about the subject and this is what I've learned that has helped me. Click on the cut to read more.

  1. What what you put in your mouth. You can't just count what calories you eat at meals. Recently, because Halloween is coming up, my husband and I bought a big bag of fun-size candy bars from Costco (115 total). Last year we only had about 20 trick-or-treaters, so I know we have plenty. I really like candy bars, and these were so little that I figured I'd bring a couple with me to work each day to eat with lunch. I hadn't looked on the bag to confirm how many calories were in each, but I estimated probably about 50. I have 500 calories allotted for each meal and with the extra 100 for the candy, I was still within my limit. Then last night I decided to actually check the bag to see if I was right about the calories. Boy was I wrong! These little candy bars, less than 1 oz. each, were 100 calories each! Was it really worth that many calories just for 2 minutes of satisfaction. I decided it wasn't, so I've now omitted them from my lunch. 

  2. Drink water with your meals. Drinks with meals, whether it be milk, juice, soda, or alcohol, can really add calories to your meal. A 12-oz. can of regular soda can add as much as 200 calories. When you're like me and only allowed 500 per meal, that's half of the meal! By drinking water instead, you can eat more food that fills you up more than a drink can (and you still get to drink) and you're giving your body something it desperately needs anyway (can you say you drink your 8 cups of water a day?). Would you rather have a soda or a treat? I personally would rather have a treat (ice cream, please?). And I know what you're thinking--what about diet sodas? Well, go ahead if you wish, but in my opinion (and the opinion of nutritionists I've spoken with) these are not as "healthy" as they're made out to be and, as with all sodas, they dehydrate you unlike water. 

  3. If it's unhealthy then only eat if you really want it. How many times have we eaten a dessert, whether a cookie, some cake, a piece of pie, or whatever, and it was just okay. It wasn't delectable or extremely yummy, but it was there so we ate it. I say no more. One "dessert" that I don't really care for are donuts. There are certain donuts I love--such as Bevarian-cream filled with chocolate frosting--but most such as glazed are just all right, so when they're brought to work by a co-worker as a treat, I pass. I tell them it's not worth the calories (I mean they're like 300 calories!). I'd rather save my dessert calories for something I love like ice cream or pecan pie. These I love and doesn't make sense to only eat something such as these if you really love eating it? Of course, if it's healthy, such as vegetables, then we eat them cause they're good for us, even if we don't love them! 

  4. Cut your proportions. When I was a kid and we would have ice cream as a dessert, we ate out of cereal bowls rather than the smaller dessert bowls. As a kid I had no idea what treats such as these would do to me as I grew older. All I knew is I liked it and I wanted as much as my mom would let me have. I had an advantage because I've always done sports (otherwise I guarantee you I'd be a bigger chunk than I am because my genetics gave me a slow metabolism). I took this habit of eating ice cream in a cereal bowl till just about 6 months ago. It was then that I realized I needed to reduce my proportions. I didn't need 2 cups of ice cream! 1 cup is plenty and so I started using smaller dessert bowls that I was given for Christmas. I reduced my caloric intake on this from 600 calories to 300! (This is approximate depending on the type of ice cream.) Just by having a smaller slice of pie, a smaller piece of cake, one scoop of ice cream vs. two, smaller cups of soda, and not super-sizing our meals, we can drastically reduce the amount of "empty" calories we eat each day. (It also helps if we reduce how many times we each these things in one week. Same basic principle.) 

  5. Lift weights. My junior year in college I took a weight-lifting class. On the first day our instructor was talking to us and asking us what we wanted to accomplish in the class. The answer: be healthier and have tone lean muscles. The girls also answered that they didn't want to be bulky either. Our instructor right then calmed our worries. He explained that to become bulky we would have to lift all day every day and be a certain body type. Otherwise, what lifting weights does is tone our body, help them to grow, and increase our metabolism. The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn when we're just sitting around. Therefore, if we want to increase our metabolism, which I know I do, we need to lift weights often. Just keep the weight low and do many reps. You can use weights to strengthen pretty much any muscle in your body. Just by holding the weights while doing your normal exercises, it will increase the impact of the exercise and therefore your muscles will also increase (of course you want to consult a doctor before starting any new exercise regime--this is my disclaimer since again, I'm not an expert). Make sure that you stretch all your muscles after working them out. This will help your muscles to stay strong and lean as well and keep you flexible as you add muscle mass. 

  6. Take the stairs. It might not seem like much, but by taking the stairs whenever you can, it will help you keep an attitude of activeness that many lose. This is one thing that bugs me. My office building is three floors high. So at most, I would only need to walk up or down 2 floors, not much. I work on the second floor and so I'm right in-between the other two floors. Anyone on my floor, therefore, would at most need to walk up or down one flight of stairs to get to one of the other floors, and yet I see people all the time using the elevator. They don't have strollers, or carts, or are 9 months pregnant. They aren't on crutches or in a wheelchair or carrying boxes. They have no reason not to take the stairs, and yet they don't. They wait 45+ seconds for the elevator to come and then are in it another 45 seconds when it would have taken under a minute to walk it. Now I can understand if where you work or live it's like 10 flights of stairs, but even that isn't that bad. Maybe you could start by walking up one flight and riding an elevator the rest of the way. Then work your way up to two flights and then three. 

  7. If you want to be healthy, exercise. I know, you've heard it before, but by being active you pay more attention to your body and what you put in it. Or at least that is what happened to me. As I started to exercise more, I cared more about what I put in, like I didn't want my exercising to go to waste. I know that it's hard to exercise. But find something, whether it's running or swimming or riding your bike. Maybe there is an exercise video you like. When I was looking for an exercise video to use, I borrowed a couple at a time from the library. By doing that, I was able to test them out without having to buy them and see if I liked the workout. Finally, though, I settled on a computer program called "Yourself Fitness" that really worked for me. It adapts to you and does a different workout every time, focusing on different parts of your body. It can also adapt to what workout equipment you own including a body ball, weights, and a step-aerobics stepper. So that is what is working for me right now. During the summer I went running at night, but now that it's getting cold, I had to find something to do inside.

Anyway, these are my thoughts on the matter. Take it or leave it. Either way.

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