As a lover of exercise, I would like to tell you that the only requirement to being healthy and fit is a regular workout regime. Unfortunately, I’d be lying to you. Without a healthy diet becoming and staying fit will be extremely difficult. Many people try to maintain or lose weight through diet or exercise alone. But you need both, especially if you’re over thirty and the metabolism has started to slow naturally (Darn this aging business).
As a teenager I used to eat nachos and ice cream daily. As a twenty-year old I would crush up Oreos and pour milk over them for breakfast. Now as a thirty-something (not admitting how many somethings) I’ve finally convinced my self-indulgent tongue that I have to eat healthy 95% of the time. I still have the occasional bowl of ice cream, but now it’s in a lovely (and tiny) crystal dessert bowl instead of a Cool Whip container. Don’t think that the beauty of my dessert bowl eases the sting of not eating enough of my favorite treat, but I have found that I can be satisfied with the smaller portion if I savor each teeny bite.
To lose weight and keep it off for life you need a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and a healthy diet that you can live with. I recommend that my clients eat 5-6 small meals or snacks per day, drink lots of water and limit themselves to one treat, something they can thoroughly enjoy and will keep them from craving more or being irritable (I don’t know about you, but denying myself chocolate for life would require my husband to live in his garage).
On my website, under the links page, there is a file called, “Cami’s Eating Chart.” It is a spreadsheet with suggested meal and snack times and a spot to record water consumption and exercise time. It’s a fabulous idea to write down what you eat. Keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss according to a study from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research. (i)
Many women tell me that they have a hard time eating 5-6 times a day. The reason I encourage this is it keeps food portions small. If you know you’re eating again in two to three hours, you won’t be so tempted to polish off that sandwich (I have to remind myself that it’s okay to throw food away). Also, eating often keeps your blood sugar or glucose levels even. If your blood glucose dips too low because you’re not eating enough or you’re allowing too much time between meals, you will become irritable, tired, your metabolism will dip (not something we want if we’re trying to lose weight) and if you go too long your body will start deriving its energy from protein, keeping the protein from its intended use – building our muscles and increasing our metabolism. If your blood glucose rises too high because you ate too much, the excess will be stored (usually as fat). Which leads us back to our healthy, small meals and keeping blood sugar at a normal level.
Another important factor is what you are eating. Make sure your diet is full of lots of veggies, fruits, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and high-fiber carbs and you’ll be doing well. Here’s a list of healthy snacks to get you started.
Popcorn (air-popped or 94% fat free)
Glass of skim milk
Raw veggies – carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, cucumbers, etc.
Serving of fruit - banana, apple, orange, pear, strawberries, grapes, etc.
Nuts or sunflower seeds and raisins
Small bowl of high-fiber cold cereal
Peanut butter on celery sticks
Fruit smoothie - Mix your favorite fruit with fat-free yogurt, skim milk, vanilla flavoring, and ice
Yogurt Parfait – low-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, fruit, and granola
Almonds and Raisins
Apple and Peanut Butter
Chicken and Spinach Salad
Cottage Cheese and Fruit
Guacamole and Veggies
Ham and Cheese Slices
Hummus on Lettuce Leaves
High fiber toast with peanut butter and jelly
Open-Faced Roast Beef or Turkey Sandwich
Peanut Butter and Banana
Peanuts and Yogurt
Rice Cake with Peanut Butter
Slim•Fast Low Carb Snack Bar
Strawberries and String Cheese
Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Wheat Crackers and Cheese
Low-fat granola bar
Make the choice today to incorporate healthy eating and a regular exercise program into your busy life. You not only reap the rewards of losing/maintaining weight, you will also prevent a multitude of diseases, be full of energy, and feel great!
Cami Checketts is a wife, mother, exercise scientist, and author. Her latest book, The Sister Pact, will be available July 2009.
(i) Keeping a Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss - http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/542031