Top 5 Slim-Down Strategies
How many times have you abandoned your New Year's resolution to shed pounds for good? If the thought of an unfulfilled weight loss goal sets you back a few emotional steps, be sure to read my tips below to give your body the jump-start it needs.
1. Set Mini-Goals:
Let's say you want to lose 10 pounds in the next two months. If this is the case, try setting short-term or "mini" goals to help you achieve your goal of shedding the excess weight.
Keep in mind that your mini goals should be specific and realistic, and they should have a measurable outcome. For example, say, "I'm going to eat two servings of fruit each day," or, "I'm going to walk briskly for 30 minutes during my lunch break on Mondays through Fridays," instead of, "I'm going to increase my fruit intake and exercise."
Setting your target in specific, measurable terms will increase your chances of accomplishing your long-term goal of losing those unwanted pounds. In addition, remember to be realistic. If you've been consuming over 2,000 calories, don't try cutting back to 1,400 overnight. And if you haven't exercised all year, don't aim to run three miles each day.
2. Budget Your Foods:
If you can budget your money, you can budget your foods. Aim to have a specific amount of fruits, vegetables, starches, proteins and fats throughout the day, or for each meal. For example, let's say you want to limit your starches to six per day, or two per meal.
Your starches for each meal may include:
1/2 cup of cereal and 1 slice of toast for breakfast (each of these servings is equal to one starch)
2 slices of whole wheat bread for lunch (one slice of bread is equal to one starch)
1 cup of pasta for dinner (1/2 cup of pasta is equal to one starch)
You can also limit your fats to one fat per meal. For example:
Low-fat peanut butter on a 1/2 bagel with a banana and 4 ounces of orange juice for breakfast (the peanut butter is the main source of fat)
Salad with sliced chicken breast, pears, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette dressing, with an apple and iced tea for lunch (the goat cheese is the main source of fat)
Shrimp with vegetables and fettuccini noodles sauteed in olive oil for dinner (the olive oil is the main source of fat)
By limiting the amounts of each type of food, you will be able to stay within a calorie level that will enable you to lose weight.
3. Keep a Food Journal:
Keeping a food journal helps you to avoid what I call "unconscious eating" -- eating that leads to consumption of excess calories, beyond what you may have ever intended to consume. In fact, research actually shows that keeping a food journal will help you to lose weight!
If emotional eating is a big sticking point for you, then journaling your moods, such as stress, boredom or anger can help you pinpoint problem areas during your day, which in some cases may serve as triggers to overeating. Once you understand the problem, you can find a solution that does not involve opening the box of cookies or the jar of jellybeans.
4. Get Moving:
If you don't have time to get to the gym or to your aerobics class, be sure to engage in some physical activity at some point during the day. Believe it or not, even light physical activity can help you shed excess pounds and get into shape.
Take a look at the calorie-burning potential of the following physical activities:
Gardening for just 20 minutes burns 100 calories
Pulling weeds for 20 minutes burns 120 calories
Mowing the lawn for 30 minutes burns 150 calories
Washing the car for 1 hour burns 300 calories
Burning an extra 500 calories each day will help you to lose one pound per week. So, be sure to take advantage of the longer days with outside walks and outdoor activates In addition to burning excess calories, getting out of the house to get your body moving will keep you away from the refrigerator.
5. Drink Lots of Water:
Water will help to curb your appetite; it will also keep you hydrated during the hot months ahead. And here's an added bonus: Cold water helps you to burn calories! That's right -- the process of bringing cold water to your body's own temperature involves expending energy, or calories. So carry a water bottle with you at all times, and aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses each day (or 10 if you exercise). If you are a fan of bottled water, try a bottled water delivery service, which is less expensive than buying bottled water in the stores.