We’ve got 10 weeks until the unofficial start of summer — Memorial Day Weekend — and while many of us have been hibernating all winter, it’s time to kickstart a lifestyle change to lose weight and feel great in a bathing suit, shorts, or sundress.
No need to panic because we’ve got 10 weeks to lose 10 pounds! Losing a pound a week is a realistic goal for everyone, if you adjust your mindset to the idea that small changes all day long pay off. Patience is the hardest step in this process, but it’s time to get off the "quick weight loss" treadmill, and on to a realistic weight loss plan that supports both losing the weight — and keeping it off.
A pound is about 3500 calories. Break that down to 500 calories a day to save, and you’ll see how manageable it is. Each week, you’ll learn new and easy ways to trim calories from your daily eating. And how to exercise “smarter” and not longer.
For starters, research has shown that there are six habits for permanent weight loss — thousands of people who have adopted these habits have lost weight and kept it off for years:
(1) Track your eating.
(2) Be a mindful mover.
(3) Address your stress.
(4) Don't skimp on sleep.
(5) Get a diet buddy.
(6) Weigh yourself once a week.
So where do you start? Keep a FOOD LOG. This works to show you where you're having problems, and also makes you accountable to yourself. You can try a phone app (including LoseIt! or Spark People), or keep a journal with pen and paper. The most important factor is to do it every day and learn from it.
And how to cut calories meal by meal? Once you start to really pay attention to what you’re eating, it’s not hard to find ways to cut calories without deprivation. Your goal is to cut 50-100 calories every time you eat, in addition to some larger mealtime calorie cutters. These add up quickly. Here are a few examples:
- Instead of 10 ounces of orange juice, water it down by half: SAVE 70 cal.
- Instead of a single packet of flavored oatmeal, use plain oatmeal with two tablespoons of blueberries: SAVE 55 cal.
- Instead of a regular breakfast sandwich, use a light English muffin and egg whites: SAVE 75 cal.
- Instead of a cup of cream of asparagus soup, have a cup of tomato soup: SAVE 100 cal.
- Instead of a turkey sandwich with mayo, use skinny bread and mustard: SAVE 200 cal.
- Instead of regular chips, use baked or air-popped: SAVE 40 cal.
- Instead of a 6 oz. (80/20 fat) burger on a roll, use meat with 90/10 fat on a light roll: SAVE 325 cal.
- Instead of french fries, use oven-baked fries: SAVE 150 cal.
- Instead of a green salad with two tablespoons of salad dressing, use balsamic vinegar: SAVE 150 cal.
For Late-Afternoon or Evening Snacks: (about 150 cal saving for each)
- Instead of a can of soda, try a can of seltzer or diet soda
- Instead of a full-size Snickers bar, try a mini-KIND or 100-cal Balance bar, a 100-calorie serving of cocoa-dusted nuts, or a fun-size Snickers bar.
- Instead of 3/4 cup of premium ice cream, try 3/4 cup light ice cream or frozen yogurt
While you’re getting organized, get a reliable scale. The number on the scale is only one index of success, but it’s an important monitoring guide along with how your clothes fit.
And dig out some comfortable walking shoes! Weight loss relies mostly on cutting calorie intake, but adding 30 minutes of daily moderate walking (where you can talk without becoming breathless) provides a lot of value-added to your plan: more on that next week!