New Year’s resolutions and weight loss

Salsa is good for you, so don’t hesitate to add it to your meals.
Istock/Skip ODonnell

Q: I’m determined to lose weight in 2012. Can you recommend a diet to help me lose weight quickly?

A: Many people resolve to lose weight at the dawn of each New Year – but, despite the best of intentions, most fail long-term because they take the wrong approach. Among those who lose weight quickly through crash dieting, eight out of 10 regain their lost weight within two years and two-thirds pile on even more weight.

Americans are bombarded by advertising for pills and weight loss programs which claim to allow you to lose massive amounts of weight in just a few weeks without exercise or changing the way you eat – or eating only the foods you buy from their particular company. The idea of effortlessly transforming your body overnight is tempting, which is why weight loss is a billion dollar industry.

The cold, hard truth is that long and lasting success is found not in the latest diet or weight loss fad but in making a lifestyle change by exercising regularly and eating healthy foods. It’s a slower process, but the results are longer-lasting and better for your health and well-being.

Body fat is stored energy and to lose it you must burn more calories (energy) than you consume. Eating less and dropping weight by dieting alone (calorie restriction) doesn’t work long-term for two important reasons:

1) Your body reacts to your consumption of fewer calories by slowing down your metabolism so that you need fewer calories to function. You can’t diet forever – and when you stop, the weight returns quickly because your body is now burning fewer calories.

2) About 15 to 20 percent of the weight you lose through dieting alone is actually lean muscle tissue and this loss, in turn, slows your metabolism even further because muscle burns calories. Less muscle means lower metabolism. This is why strength training to replace lost muscle tissue must be part of any weight loss program.

Here are some New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep which will help you reduce body fat and feel better:

1) Turn off the television, get off the sofa and increase your activity level. Walk, jog or run around the block three to four times a week. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park the farthest away from the building and walk the distance. Swim, cycle, or find some outdoor activity you enjoy. Get active!

2) Change your grocery shopping list: replace your diet of junk and processed foods with fresh, lean meats, fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Switch to whole wheat bread and wheat pasta. If you don’t buy the corn chips and the crème-filled cookies, you won’t have them to eat when you get the craving!

3) Don’t skip breakfast. It takes five minutes or less to fix a bowl of oatmeal or scramble some eggs or microwave a few slices of lean turkey bacon. Breakfast is worth the effort and is necessary to give you the energy to power through your morning.

4) Add mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks to your daily routine. A handful of almonds and an apple or a cup of yogurt are easy snacks to take to work with you and will stave off hunger. It’s tough to make sensible food choices if you are starving.

5) Join a gym and make the commitment to work out three times a week. The cost of an experienced personal trainer for even a few weeks is worth the investment so you can learn proper form and technique as well as how best to use gym equipment.

6) Greatly reduce sugar consumption. Replace sodas with unsweetened peach or lemon-flavored iced tea (delicious!) or water. Use honey in your coffee or oatmeal instead of sugar. If a food label lists ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, sugar, or dextrose as one of the top three ingredients, don’t use it.

7) Limit intake of alcohol while beginning this journey of weight loss and newfound fitness. Alcohol inhibits your body’s ability to burn fat.

8) Track any progress and celebrate small victories. Consider keeping a food diary or using an app like myfitnesspal.com.

9) Go to bed early and get eight hours of sleep.

10) Stick with your program, even when you don’t feel like it. You and only you are responsible for the way you look and feel.

Distributed By Healthy Living News

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