Over the past five years, but who’s counting?, I have tried a few diets, some of them more successful than others.
What seemed to work for a while was avoiding the wrong combination of foods. But it was a short term success.
To lose weight and keep it like that, you have to entirely change your life. Unfortunately, growing old it’s adding new elements into equation: metabolism slow down along with hormonal changes.
What was reasonably easy to do when you were young, it’s ten times more difficult to do it when you are 40-ish.
I realized that I have to take a logical and practical approach to develop a weight loss program that will work for me.
Step nr. 1: Calculate the calories intake based on your age, gender, frame
First of all, I wanted to find out how many calories I should eat every day, based on my physical frame and age.
I went to: http://mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598 and entered my data.
The result: I was supposed to eat 1200 per day.
I am pretty sure that I eat much more than that, so it’s no wander I keep piling up kilograms.
Let’s say that I do eat 1200 calories. That will help me shed some pounds, but after that I will reach the dreadful plateau.
What to do next?
Well, the next logical step is to change the energy balance.
Step nr. 2: Changing the energy balance
Energy balance is the difference between calorie intake (from food & drinks) and calories out - through our metabolism & energy expended during daily activities. In order to lose fat weight, our body needs to be in a negative energy balance.
But to do that, we have to add exercise in our daily routine. Why? Because just reducing the calories intake we are not going to lose much before the body will get into ‘starvation mode’ and start preserving the fat already stored, at the expense of losing muscle (the body needs proteins to function normally and this is the first available source if we don’t provide it via food).
Some people say that eating negative calorie fruits and vegetables may help you lose weight, other dismiss the ‘negative calorie’ theory as rubbish.
But if you believe in the negative theory approach, than add the following vegetables in your diet: asparagus, fennel, eggplant, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower, peppers, radish, spinach, tomato, and turnip. With a proper protein added to the above vegetables, you can actually have a nutritious diet.
Because it’s healthy to eat fruits, what about adding the negative calorie ones?
Here is the list: apricot, mandarin orange, blackberry, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, raspberry, grapefruit, rhubarb, guava, strawberry, tangerine, lemon, watermelon.
Combining negative calorie foods with good protein sources not only helps control appetite but will help maintain the metabolism because total calories are not cut too much, plus the amino acid pool is maintained which limits the loss of muscle.
3. Develop a realistic meal and exercise plan
This is the most important step.
In order to lose 1 pound of fat a week, you have to create a calorie deficit of 3500 per week. That means 500 calories per day.
How are you going to do that?
The balanced way is to cut 250 calories from your food intake and burn another 250 through exercise.
If you eat an already balanced meal of 1200 calories (or whatever the calculator will indicate for you taking into account age, gender, frame), then you have to exercise extra to burn 500 calories.
From my experience: walking on treadmill, for 25 minutes, at 3.5 miles/hour and 4.5 steep, I burn 200 calories. Meaning that I have to increase the walking time or the difficulty level, to burn 250 calories.
I can throw in working on my Bowflex and playing ping-pong with my husband. If I manage to alternate these activities, along with eating properly, I believe I would be on the right track.
Just keep in mind that a healthy weight loss goal is to lose .5 to 2 pounds per week.
My goal is to lose at least 15 pounds until summer. Being in April, that leaves me with about 3 months of work and about 5 pounds per month.
In order to find out how much I eat, I must keep a journal, at least in the beginning.
And I have to reevaluate the meal size, or how big a serving really is.
4. Understanding the serving size
Let’s start by saying that a healthy eating approach should include daily:
Fats, Oils and Sweets - use sparingly.
Milk, Yogurt, Cheese - 2 to 3 servings.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Nuts, Eggs - 2 to 3 servings.
Vegetables - 3 to 5 servings.
Fruits - 2 to 3 servings.
Grains, Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta - 6 to 11 servings
If you are a middle aged woman- like I am- then target the lower end of the serving suggestion.
How big a serving is?
dairy group - 1 cup 2%, 1 cup yogurt, 1 1/2 oz of cheese
protein group - 2-3 oz. of meat, 1/2 cup cooked dry beans
vegetable group - 1/2 cup of cooked or raw cut up, 1 cup raw leafy
fruit group - medium sized piece of fruit or 1/2 cup cut up, 3/4 cup of juice
grain group — a serving is 1/2 cup of cooked pasta or rice, 1 slice of bread, 1 oz. dry cereal
Knowing how big the serving is, you have to take into account the calories and create your own regime.