By Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
As feasting season kicks off, most of us would rather practice diet-free weight loss methods. Here’s how to eat, drink, and be skinny …
As the year’s end approaches, a combination of family gatherings, festive holidays, and chilly air brings on the cravings. Something about warm cookies fresh from the oven seems to signal the heart of the season.
Rather than crash diet to fit into that New Year’s Eve party attire, or at least maintain the year’s worth of fitness efforts, try something different. As we approach this holiday season, banish the diets!
Take a new, possibly more successful, approach to winter eating. Switch the balance on your healthy lifestyle scale. Increase physical activity rather than decrease holiday-gathering attendance for fear of the hors d’oeuvres display.
Ramp up Fitness Time
You know it’s coming– tasty temptations, late nights jeopardizing your early workouts, and year-end stress (holidays and otherwise). Start preparing now by revving up your workouts. Aim to burn an extra 100 calories per day. A one-mile walk can accomplish this in about 20 minutes, a jog in about 10 minutes. That’s 100 less you need to worry about during the onset of goodie-craving syndrome.
Seize the brief lull before the craziness of the holiday season. Take this time to include a new fitness class in your schedule. Group Fitness recently launched their latest Les Mills routines. Find a favorite and make it a pre-holiday tradition. Schedule your re-evaluation with a personal trainer to set small but significant goals that can be accomplished over the next few weeks. Challenge yourself and approach 2013 with the resulting motivation.
Just as you prepare for swimsuit season to show off your exercise efforts, so must you prepare for the turkey dinners and parties, cocktail or kids’ classroom versions. Although the abs may not be on display under a bulk of wool blends, you will possess a coveted ability to enjoy a hearty meal or decadent dessert.
Diets alone limit weight loss success. You may achieve a quick loss, yet staying-power is weak. Weight loss resulting from diets alone is usually temporary at best. Eventually, no matter how well clothes hang on your new frame, you resort to more realistic eating habits. Counting every grain of rice in your rice cake does not make for a happy, committed dieter.
Many diets limit entire food groups. They are not nutritionally wise and leave one hungry. This has the obvious consequences. Fad diets tend to be low in carbs and calories, which results in fluid loss. This loss is reflected on the scale, until the body rehydrates. Drink some water and you are back to your previous weight, or heavier from the weight of defeat.
Weight loss and maintenance is possible through an overall healthier lifestyle approach, which includes less extremes and is more manageable. Focus on fitness with small improvements to your routine. A personal trainer or fitness instructor can provide tweaks to your current workout that maximize your efforts. Incorporating weights into a cardio routine, or safely increasing the heart rate with segments of exercises performed in double-time, may offer more bang to the scale.
Change it up! Let the fallen leaves around you be a constant reminder to keep your routine colorful. One exercise program, piece of fitness equipment, or class will not usually accomplish all your goals. Keep muscles confused and mind engaged with a workout that incorporates multiple tools and methods. A trainer can show how to be limitless in your endeavors while remaining in safe parameters.
Any successful weight plan requires calories consumed to be balanced by calories burned. You’ve acknowledged the weeks ahead may be heavily laden with calories. Prepare for the onslaught with a fitness program that keeps pace to counteract them.
Often weight loss is focused on diets and gimmicks. “Lose weight without getting off the couch!” “Eat this and do nothing but shed pounds.” Honestly– the discovery of a field of herbs guaranteed to lose 5 pounds a week. That is not a supplement to attempt without a nearby bathroom.
Try a counter-approach. Lose weight by doing something! You can still eat, and enjoy food, but movement is required. Beyond accomplishing a healthy weight, exercise brings the added benefits of a healthier body and mind, along with disease prevention. No diet program offers such perks. Some actually put dieters at risk. With exercise, the body burns calories and gets the fat-fighting power of a boosted metabolism and lowered insulin levels.
Tricks to Burn Off Treats
- Increase your workout time. If you usually spend 20 minutes on the treadmill, go for 40. Walk on an incline. More muscle usage burns more calories.
- Increase your workout intensity. If only for quick spurts during your routine, give it a little extra oomph. Kick into double time or add extra resistance. Always ensure proper form, or risk being subjected to a soup-and-pain-killer diet.
- Introduce a daily walk. Fresh air and exercise are an energetic combination. Don’t use this to replace your usual workout routine, but rather as an enhancement.
- Take advantage of seasonal chores. Rake, shovel, prune, and garden. Even in the off season, there is yard work to be done. Focus on the muscles used during these activities. Engage your core for the most impact, and for back protection. Raking leaves for 23 minutes burns approximately 103 calories when engaging the full body. Limit to 20-minute segments to avoid getting stiff from repetition (or sudden use).
- Sleep an extra hour every night. One researcher discovered this could help lose14 pounds over a year. Consider a bedtime TV show where you start to doze-off. Mindless snacking, instigated by strategically orchestrated commercials, is often the solution to stay awake. Without much thought, calories are consumed before an idle stretch. Going to sleep when tired also helps control appetite when awake. Fatigue can trigger a false sense of hunger.
- Give yoga a try. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association found yoga regulars took a more mindful approach to eating. Researchers believe the calm self-awareness developed through yoga helps people better recognize fullness and resist overeating. Say, “Yummm” to that.
- Get a dog. A glance outside any time of day or night usually reveals someone walking a dog somewhere. These canine friends really can keep you in shape! Walk the neighborhood circuit and then some.
- Celebrate your accomplishments in living a healthy lifestyle. It takes patience to recognize fast weight loss doesn’t come in a box for “three easy payments of $99.99.” Accomplishing and maintaining a healthy weight without stocking grapefruits in place of all else requires its own kind of discipline. But, aren’t you glad it’s a discipline that allows a visit to the dessert table?
Calorie Calculations to Keep You on Track
Women should consume a daily minimum of 1,200 calories; men a minimum of 1,500. No less is suggested without medical supervision. Most food plans are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. However, personal requirements should be based on your height and weight, and can be calculated by a healthcare professional. Sites like www.choosemyplate.gov are also helpful in creating personalized eating plans.
It is healthiest and easiest to produce a calorie deficit through physical activity and decreased intake. You do not need to be in a perpetual state of hunger, ready to lurch at the first cheeseburger. A healthy lifestyle is not one of deprivation, but rather one of fullness (and not only from food). More calories burned than consumed is the simple equation for weight loss. Go ahead and consume, just be ready to burn it off.
“8 Easy Ways to Burn Off Those Halloween Treats,” by Dorothy Foltz-Gray at www.fitnessmagazine.com.
“24 Ways to Lose Weight without Dieting” at www.medicinenet.com.
“Tips for Losing Weight” at www.about.com.
Pumpkin pie (introductory photo): http://www.flickr.com/photos/venturevancouver/4933043143/
Big bite: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/3704356736/
Fallen leaves: http://www.flickr.com/photos/msvg/6246406085/