Monday, March 31, 2008

Weight Loss: How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off

It's an age-old question: How do you lose weight and keep it off? weight loss
With all the Diets, Special Foods and Weight Loss Systems out there, it's no wonder that most overweight people are so confused about weight loss. Losing those extra inches and pounds can be a frustrating experience, and since it requires a long term commitment and offers delayed results, most people give up easily, feeling like it's a lost cause. Well, I'm here -living proof- to tell you that losing weight and keeping it off can be done!
I am not a phisician, or an expert in the matter, however I lived through it; this article is a recommendation based on my weight loss success (and also my husband's, some family members' and friends'), and is also founded on the advice I received from a doctor.
Warning: please, contact your doctor -especially if suffering from any medical problem- before following any weight loss Diet or weight loss Exercise advice.

After a careless sweets-filled diet during pregnancy, I found myself 60 pounds overweight (a lot for a small frame), and not being able to breastfeed, I had a hard time getting back in shape. I wasn't willing to settle for the new heavy-set body, so I started a hard core search for the best weight loss program to shed the fat and keep it off, and researched many diet books and on-line weight loss sources. Being hard-headed finally worked for me, as I finally found answers from a doctor (friend of mine), who directed me to a 3 step program for weight loss: A Healthy Balanced Diet, Exercise and CLA.

DIET: It is important for our health to keep our body lean and fit, in the words of Arnold H. Glasgow:

"Your body is the baggage you must carry through life. The more excess the baggage, the shorter the trip"

So have a healthy diet. I cringe at that word, only because I've tried almost every "diet" under the sun! So you can imagine the 'excitement' as the doctor started talking. The best things about his weight loss diet: it's for every healthy member of the family, it is a long term habit and it doesn't require cooking tasteless foods or buying expensive special-cooked meals/foods.
The Doc told me: "the secret of a healthy balanced diet is in your hand! We have 5 fingers, that's the number of meals to eat during the day: 3 main ones and 2 snacks. Look at the palm of your hand, that is the size of 'protein' serving (beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish)"; I know some of you are staring at your palm saying: "what? I will starve!" trust me on this one, you won't!
He continued: "Make a fist now, that is the size of Carbohydrates or Starch (pasta, bread, potatoes, rice...etc.) beside the 'meat', and accompany that by 2 fists of Vegetables (keep them colorful and dark greens)... and NO, fried french fries don't qualify! A great Snack is a handful of nuts".
The trick in a weight loss diet is finding a healthy balance between Carbohydrates and Proteins. The best ratio is 2:1, so for every 2 grams of Carbohydrates in a meal, have 1 gram of Protein. The doctor explained: "when the ratio is balanced, Insuline is not produced in the body and fat storage doesn't take place". So pair the morning toast (cereal, pancakes, cookies..any carbs) with a tall glass of milk, peanut butter or an egg (protein).

Learn to read the labels on the products we buy. Most products, have a "Nutrition Fact" label on the box; Calories are important, as the recommended amount of daily intake is limited:
Healthy women of average height/built have a limit of about 1500/day, and the average healthy male has a limit of 2200 calories/day (if smaller in size decrease the number of calories by about 200/300, if bigger increase the allowance).

Important: A woman should never eat less than 1200 and a man never less than 2000 calories to remain healthy: healthy weight loss= healthy eating.
During a pregnancy a healthy woman should add 300 extra calories and during lactating an extra 500 calories to her regular daily intake.

Figure out the RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate), the amount of calories the body burns without exercise:
In pounds and inches:

Men: RMR = (4.54 x Weight in pounds) + (2.44 x Height in inches) – (4.92 x Age) + 5
Women: RMR = (4.54 x Weight in pounds) + (2.44 x Height in inches) – (4.92 x Age) - 161

In kilograms and centimeters:

Men: RMR = (9.99 x Weight in kg) + (6.25 x Height in cm) + (4.92 x Age) + 5
Women: RMR = (9.99 x Weight in kg) + (6.25 x Height in cm) + (4.92 x Age) - 161

Next, multiply the RMR by an Activity Coefficient (AC). Here are the average ACs for men and women.
Sedentary Men: AC = 1.55 -Moderately Active Men: AC = 1.78 -Very Active Men: AC = 2.10
Sedentary Women: AC = 1.56 -Moderately Active Women: AC = 1.64 -Very Active Women: AC = 1.82
That's the number of calories the body burns per day -without extra exercise.

Next on the Nutrition Fact Label is the FAT, this figure should't exceed 6 grams, to be considered "healthy"; anything more will settle in, contributing to the 'extra' inches and resulting in time in an overweight body and fatty organs.
Be careful: not all fat is equal! Some fats are good, like Fish oils (Omega 3, Omega 6) and very healthy, while others (Trans-fats) are artery cloggers!
Keep the Sodium at or below 350 grams and the Salt at less than 2000 mg.
Helpful tip: For flavour without the added fat, marinate the meat, poultry and fish: Garlic, Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Lemon juice and a bit of olive oil before putting it on the Barbeque; the marinade will add flavour and counteract the formation of Carcinogens during the roasting (which can cause breast and colon cancer).
The best thing when dieting is to avoid most sugary/high calories drinks, like sodas, juices and beers, they are not a necessity in a daily meal and just contribute to chew up the calorie and sugar allowance for the day; but don't deprive yourself all the time. ONE glass of red wine, even though it contains sugars, is healthy for the heart and circulatory system. Drink a lot of water during the day, it will cleanse and purify the body from harmful toxins, resulting in clearer skin and well functioning organs.
Helpful tip: to remember to drink -especially during my weight loss program- I carried a small (hard plastic) water bottle with me all day.

Stay away from fancy sauces and fatty condiments like: mayonaise, heavy salad dressings, butters..etc. A healthy substitute is mustard. Avoid all fried foods; use the oven as a substitute to the frying pan (for fries, nuggets, cutlets, etc.), and the Grill/BBQ is a great friend to any diet. Grill the fish, meats, poultry and vegetables. After you grill (or steam the vegetables) keep them tasty the Mediterranean way: olive oil, herbs, herbs, more herbs, garlic and citrus! Try this: mix in a small bowl a bit of extra-vergin olive oil (quantity depends on the amount of food), add a few teaspoons of lemon juice, oregano, fresh parsley and basil, a clove of garlic (cut in very small dices), and a pinch of salt, then mix it up; drizzle the mix onto the grilled/steamed vegetables and fish/meat. It's so delicious, that it doesn' t feel like "diet" food! I love it on my salmon, shrimp, mushroom, eggplant, zucchini, etc.
Dessert is ok too, but in moderation though, and if it doesn't throw the whole daily calories and fat allowance out of balance.

Weight loss exercisesEXERCISE: like the diet in a weight loss program, a crucial part to lose weight is based on consistent exercise and getting the blood flowing. Just reducing the amount of calories intake won't decrease the weight already accumulated, so get moving! The gym is not the only place to lose weight...why spend the money and waste the trip if you don't have to! Just set aside about 30 minutes a day to get moving -make it a priority, the time slot will "magically" appear! The daytime is the best time to get moving, don't leave exercising for the evening or it might disrupt the sleeping pattern.
Exercise will burn the calories, and in time it will help speed up the metabolism, which in turn will accelerate the weight loss.
If not an exercise expert (who is?), don't worry; just get moving: running on the spot (before getting into the shower), or going up and down the stairs a few times in a row (can be done at work). The best aerobic exercise for burning calories is alternating fast motions with slower ones, so running on the spot and walking, or rushing up the stairs and then slowing down.
To work the whole body, grab small weights for the arms (to just tone up, two small bottles of water will do). A personal favourite, on the weekend, is aerobic exercises to music: Spanish tunes always get the hips moving and the blood pumping.
It's important to stretch before and after the exercise regimen; try to get moving the day after too, especially if sore (moving again will make the sore-spots disappear).
Caution: When starting to exercise, weight loss might take place on any part of the body (like the hands or face...etc), that's why it takes time to see significant results -same with dieting- losing weight just takes time.

CLA: It was suggested by the Doc, in addition to the diet and exercise to add 2 capsules of 500mg of CLA to a daily routine, and I believe is that it is the best supplement for weight loss while exercising. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (from Safflower Oil) is a fatty acid that also occurs naturally, and in small quantities, in foods like meats and dairy products. CLA works by reducing body fat, supporting lean body muscle retention and making the most out of the workout. Pick one brand that carries at least 500mg of the CLA/capsule and is 100% Pure Safflower Oil; there are many brands out there (at every cost) but chose one with very little or no fillers. Botanic Choice offers a great quality CLA, a 1000mg/capsule -follow the link below and get the codes for a discount.
Attention: CLA works from the inside out, by first cleaning the fat around the organs and then melting the inches away, so it might not "show" results early on, will feel more energy however (since the organs work more efficiently).
NOTE: even skinny people could suffer from fatty organs!
Warning: Remember, even though CLA is natural and has no side effects, consult the Doctor before taking any diet Weight losssupplements; CLA isn't recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The most important part of the journey in weight loss, and keeping the pounds off, is knowing that a healthy diet and exercise should be part of a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Don't be obsessed with the scale and weighing yourself everyday, losing weight takes time! Learn how to dress your current body type to look great -it helps emotionally too. Celebrate every little progress, stay consistent and keep the spirit works, I am living proof. I'm in my thirties now, and my body has never looked more trim and fit.
I wish you all the best, and please let me know about the Weight Loss progress...I will encourage you along the journey especially through the struggles and celebrations!

P.S. Thanks Doctor Wing Lim for the teaching, advice and support. It changed my life!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hehehe. That's really nice! :) Love it!