Celebrate Healthy Weight Week, Resolve to Maintain, Avoid Gain, in a Month of Resolutions You Can Keep
You’re determined to shed those extra pounds. You cut calories. You exercise. You lose weight. Then, you gain it back. The yo-yo dieter cycle is something many of my clients are familiar with.
But why do we regain?
Our bodies are phenomenal machines, but they were never built for obesity. In a way, it’s an unfair trick. When we lose weight – our goal to be healthier – our bodies’ metabolisms slow down. This slower resting metabolism rate is what our bodies need to function – to keep our hearts beating, lungs breathing, kidneys filtering blood etc. So the less we eat, as we tend to do in a weight-loss program, the slower our resting metabolism rate becomes.
And clients definitely see results. They shed pounds. They feel better. They meet their goals. Then they go back to eating how they used to. And this is where things get tricky. Many aren’t overeating. Instead, their new resting metabolism rate is slower than their metabolism from before. So someone who loses 15% of her body weight will have to continue to eat 15% fewer calories to maintain her desired weight. Possibly forever.
Nutrition Action discusses a study that followed NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” Season 2009 contestants. These success stories didn’t necessarily have “happily ever afters.” On average, these contestants lost 38% of their body weight during the filming of the 7-month show. Six years later, all but one had regained a significant amount of weight. Moreover, this weight gain didn’t have the perk of a boosted resting metabolic rate. It was as if their bodies were still trying to get back to that place before they lost the weight.
The third week of January we celebrate Healthy Weight Week. Maintaining a healthy weight by developing healthy habits we can follow throughout our lives is critical to keeping resting metabolic rate up and the pounds off. Here are 5 practical nutrition tips to maintain a healthy weight throughout your life:
- Be Aware of What’s on Your Plate: Portion Distortion, super-sizing, free refills and “bigger is better” have all become part of our everyday vocabulary and eating habits. Over the past 20 years, portion sizes have grown, as have our waistlines. A 16-ounce mocha has 305 more calories than an 8-ounce coffee with whole milk (350 calories compared to 45). It takes an hour and a half to walk off 305 calories. Just 100 calories more each day can add 10 pounds each year. So we need to be mindful of what we’re ordering and eating. Instead of ordering “the usual”, we can order what our bodies really need. Use smaller plates to control portion size. Don’t have a “clean your plate” policy. Listen to your body. Stop when you’re sated. And no more large-sized fries, double-burgers, monster muffins or king-sized cookies.
- Pile on the fruits and vegetables: Fill your plate! Make it a goal to have almost half of your plate filled with fruits and vegetables. Choose in-season products to reduce your carbon footprint and insure variety. Make fruits and vegetables your family’s go-to snack.
- Switch to low-fat or non-fat dairy products: You won’t lose the calcium, but you will lose the calories.
- Water! Instead of reaching for juice boxes, sports drinks or soft drinks, drink water. All. Day. Long. A juice box of apple juice has almost 100 calories and 22 grams of sugar. Water? Just plain old great hydration.
- Curb Your Sweet-Tooth and Salt Cravings: High-sugar diets are the primary cause of cancer, obesity, and chronic disease in the United States. Replace refined-grain foods for whole-wheat options. Buy unsweetened options (yogurt, oatmeal) and drizzle with honey. Consider savory, instead of sweet, for snacks. Also, don’t confuse salt with flavor. Choose low-sodium, no-sodium options. Train your taste buds.
These are five easy-to-follow tips to maintain a healthy weight. The lifelong battle of weight gain and loss can be avoided by developing healthy habits from the get-go. That said, it’s never too late to choose health, take strides to change bad habits, and find better ways to snack, choose foods at restaurants, and get your family on track to health now.