Editor’s note: This is the second in a two part series. You can find Part I here: http://thefatherlife.com/mag/2009/09/29/finally-the-answer-to-permanent-weight-loss-part-i/
The answer is really simple: if you are not losing weight it is because you are eating as many calories as you are burning. In order to lose, you have to find a way to eat less, or burn more energy. If you’re serious about weight loss you have to take a hard look at exactly what you are eating every day. So by now (if you have read part I) you are keeping a food diary so you know when you eat, what you eat, where you eat, and why you eat. Now let’s address some of the specifics….
* Can I have a better breakfast? What are you having in the morning? Just a cup of coffee? A muffin or donut? (too high in fat calories). Bacon and eggs and toast to get a good jumpstart? Whoa! None of these are the best idea if your goal is to lose weight. For the start of your day, it’s wise to consume some healthy complex carbs, a small amount of protein, and some fat to help tide you over until near lunch time. If you don’t have time, there are some great breakfast bars or even canned drinks that will give you what you need without having to cook before you run out the door. One of my favorite breakfasts is toasting an English muffin, then slapping a piece of cheese between slices as I run out the door. During my drive to work I enjoy a crispy breakfast sandwich with melted cheese–which took less than a minute to make! It gives me complex carbs, protein, and a bit of fat from the cheese, and leaves me satiated well into the morning.
* Do I have time to exercise? Exercising is a vital part of a healthy routine when you are trying to lose weight. If your excuse is that you can’t fit it into your day, consider what you can trade out for 30 minutes. Can you get up 30 minutes earlier to take a walk? Give up a 1/2 hour sitcom that you watch at night (or put the tv in front of a treadmill or exercise bike and do both!)? Delegate a 30 minute task to someone else in the house and go for a walk while Suzie (or Sam) washes the dinner dishes? If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s essential you find the time in your day to make a habit of MOVING. If there is literally nowhere that your schedule can budge, make a special effort to incorporate activity into your day: taking the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you have the chance, parking farther away when you drive somewhere, walking instead of driving when something is less than 3 miles away. Look for opportunities to move and take them! The goal is to burn more calories to lead to weight loss.
* Are my snack choices smart? You probably know that having five or six small meals a day is a great regimen for maintaining a healthy weight. Snacks can provide valuable nutrients that we may not get in just three meals. But what are you choosing for a snack? Newsflash: Vending machines and gas stations don’t usually have great choices! Look for a complex carbohydrate source such as a granola-type bar (Nutrigrain, Nature Valley, and Quaker make some great ones). Check the label on ‘energy’ bars which are meant for body builders and can contain over 250 calories! (In my professional opinion, it’s the same as eating a candy bar) You want to find a snack with less than 200 calories if you are trying to lose weight. Another great option is a package of cheese-and-peanut butter crackers, which you actually can find in some vending machines: A source of complex carbs, protein, and a bit of fat, these will fill you up until the next meal and come in at (usually) 180 calories. Even better options: string cheese, a carton of yogurt, or a piece of fruit, which are all great source of nutrients. Not really hungry but just have a craving for something? Try a cup of tea. No calories, but hundreds of flavors to choose from to keep your taste buds satisfied.
* Do I socialize with smart eaters? Here’s a tip: hang out with other people who are trying to eat smart! Mingle with co-workers you can join for lunch who will look for a place they can order soup and a salad–not friends who say, “Let’s check out that new buffet” or “lets go out for pizza”. Gravitate towards colleagues who bring in fresh fruits and vegetables from their back yard gardens; not office mates who bring you cookies and brownies they just baked! Make healthy eaters your company of choice and you’ll adapt habits these people have–people who seem to effortlessly maintain their weight.
* Do I see a real benefit in losing weight? Well, this is the root of the problem for some people. Take some time to think about how important weight loss is to you. If it’s not a priority–if it’s just something in the back of your mind that would be ‘nice’ then it’s not likely to happen. I have my clients spend time coming up with a list of five reasons why they want to lose weight–and then dissect each one to address why it is important. Sure, you’d like to look better, but do you really look that bad now? If the answer is “I look okay and have an attractive wardrobe already” then there is not really anything pushing you to walk by the dish of candy that sits out at reception every day, is there? Come up with some ways that losing the weight would change your life. Then you will be motivated to change.
Image credit: Peter W
Laurie Beebe is a registered dietitian with over 25 years of experience. She assists people from all walks of life in changing their diet for better health. Certified in Adult Weight Management, Laurie has transitioned into life coaching to better implement changes in people’s environments. No matter how much people know about what they ‘should’ be doing differently, they don’t alter their habits without making adjustments in their surroundings and their awareness. Coaching helps lead people to permanent changes by helping them set their own goals and design their own action plans. Please visit Laurie’s website for more free nutrition tips, a free monthly newsletter, or more information on coaching, at www.mycoachlaurie.com.