The Holiday Season Is Right Around The Corner – Are You In Shape Yet?

The kids are back at school, vacations are over, and the heat that has plagued most of the country seems to be subsiding. So all the good excuses for not exercising and eating right are gone. Now its time to seriously think about getting in shape for the upcoming holiday season.

We’re received many e-mail messages from our website readers and newsletter subscribers asking about ways to loss weight fast and safely. But, sorry folks, fast and safely ain’t gonna happen. If you want to loss weight safely, it has to happen slowly in order to keep it off.

However, the good news is that while it may take longer to see the results of safe weight loss, you can feel the results fast. Some ways to feel the results of the dietary changes you make before you actually see them are to increase your water consumption and cut back on carbonated beverages so you’ll feel less bloated. Walking, even as little as 15 minutes a day, will help to increase your stamina. Eliminating caffeine and cutting down your sugar intake will enable you to get a better night’s sleep, which in turn will make you feel more refreshed.

“Vero” asks what she can do “in order for her metabolism to work faster.” She states she has gained ten pounds in two years. She also wonders if eating late has anything to do with not being able to loss the weight. We advise that in order for weight loss to be permanent, the process should be gradual (1-2 pounds per week). It may also be necessary to change inappropriate eating behaviors that are related to certain eating patterns. There is no magical and effective method for weight loss other than spending more calories than are consumed. The body stores unused calories and uses them only when energy that is not supplied by food. Rates of weight loss vary among individuals. Factors such as age, sex, genetics and body metabolism play important roles in this process. A person who has difficulty maintaining a desired weight may need the help of a registered dietitian who can provide an individualized and safe plan that addresses their specific issues. Also, it is important to get a physical examination to rule out any medical conditions that may affect body weight.

In the meantime, here are some general guidelines that should help:

  • Avoid foods that are high in fat and concentrated sweets. These contain more calories per serving.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains/cereals. The fiber in these foods provides fullness without excessive fat and calories. (Remember, ketchup – although made from tomatoes – is not considered a vegetable.)
  • Choose lean meats, fish and skinless chicken prepared without fat/oils.
  • Avoid processed meats such as salami.
  • Use nonfat or low fat dairy products.
  • Drink plenty of water (8 glasses or more a day); and learn the location of all public restrooms.
  • Eat slowly, use small portions and always leave food on the plate. (Just don’t tell your mom. Starving children in China really don’t want your leftovers.)
  • Increase your physical activity; join a gym, walk more, use the stairs.
  • Set attainable goals and reward yourself for reaching them (A Snickers bar is not a good reward.)
  • Avoid fad diets. Some can be health hazards and most do not deliver long-term results.

“Kelly” is concerned about the timing of meals. She writes: “Some people say you should eat three meals a day at `normal’ hours…What if the person works nights and their schedule doesn’t include those times for meals? Can you just change the time of each meal and still get the same results?”

Although it is a good idea to eat three or more small meals a day (three meals and snacks), the meal times are not written in stone. You should program your own schedule to fit your lifestyle. Space each meal 4-6 hours apart, and include small healthy snacks (a piece of fruit or yogurt) if needed. Avoid skipping meals, as this will increase the tendency to overeat at the next meal. Eating regularly and controlling the amount of food at each meal is a good strategy to avoid weight problems and maintain a healthy metabolism. If any one needs further information, or has other questions, talk with a registered dietitian about a complete evaluation of your eating habits. Once you make the commitment to loss weight following a sensible eating plan and exercise routine, you’ll start to see permanent results and be on your way to a happy, healthy new millenium.

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