Accept responsibility. We live in a time where a significant percentage of people do not accept responsibility for their actions. Do not fall into this trap. If you are overweight, it is your fault. You must admit that you have lacked the discipline to eat the right foods and the self-control to eat the right amounts.
You will be hungry. It's no fun being hungry, but you must get used to it. Being hungry does not mean going so long without food that when you finally do eat you are unable to control yourself. Remember, whenever you are hungry your body is burning fat.
Be patient. It takes a long time to get out of shape and it takes a long time to get into shape. Don't expect that a few weeks of healthy habits will undo years of bad habits.
Get help. You don't need a fancy program, but you should tell your family, friends, and co-workers exactly how much you weigh and ask them to help you lose weight. By making your weight loss a public issue, you will have peer pressure to help you during times of weakness. Encourage those around you to tease you if you overeat and nag you about exercise. (If this doesn't sound fun, it isn't, but if you really want to lose weight, psychosocial factors can be strong motivators.)
Exercise regularly. You wouldn't dream of going weeks or months without bathing or brushing your teeth. Exercise in some form should be done six days per week. There are hundreds of ways to exercise. You can keep it fresh by performing a different activity every day. Not having the time is not an excuse. You must take 15-30 minutes every day to do something that causes you to breathe hard and break a sweat.
- Set reasonable goals. Depending on how large you are, 1-2 pounds per week is a reasonable goal.
- Get out of the kitchen. Idle time in the kitchen invariably leads to "grazing."
- Never go to the market hungry. Hungry shoppers buy more food and the market is designed to tempt you to purchase that which you do not need. Always shop from a list.
- Do not eat while you prepare meals. This is an easy way to cut out hundreds of calories per week.
- Put leftovers away immediately.
- Do not eat a full meal before bed. This is the easiest way for your body to store fat. However, bedtime snacks such as a cup of nonfat yogurt will not get you in trouble.
- Use smaller dishes. Big dishes equate to big servings.
- Never get seconds.
- Eat slower. When we eat too fast, our bodies are unable to inform us we are full until it is too late.
- Eat breakfast. People who do not eat breakfast will make up those calories later in the day and have less time to burn them off.
- Snack on fresh fruit. Apples and oranges are healthy, filling, and go anywhere. Eat three pieces a day.
- Eat at home whenever you can. Restaurant food is high in calories and the portions are large.
- Drink three quarts of water a day.
- Eat a high fiber diet. It is good for your intestines, it fills you up, and it reduces the amount of fat your body absorbs.
- Order sauce and dressing on the side.
- Read labels carefully. One serving may be low calorie, but if you eat six servings at one time, it no longer is.
- One bad day is no reason to quit. We're all human and every now and then a slip-up is inevitable.
- Do not watch TV commercials, since so many of them push the wrong types of food.
- Every bite counts. Write down everything you eat for a few days. This will help you realize how many extra calories (bites) sneak into your system.
- Be careful during social activities. Chips, dips, and cocktails can cost you hundreds and even thousands of calories without noticing.
G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN, DACBN
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