Simple Strategies to Keep Your Weight Down
by Ruby Bayan
Media bombards us with reminders that obesity and a sedentary
lifestyle are the primary culprits of heart disease, depression, and
a shortened life span. Every other lifestyle magazine features
articles on how to lose those potentially fatal extra pounds, and
all the health publications shout out the benefits of not only the
proper diet and a positive outlook, but more importantly, staying
within your ideal weight.
A few lucky individuals were born with good metabolism and
hormonal balance -- they can eat anything and still maintain their
slim form and proportionate weight. Some have the
genetically-bestowed energy to stay active all day, burning enough
calories to stay firm and trim.
Lucky, too, are those who were born in health-conducive cultures
or environments (like the fish-mushroom-and-tofu-eating Japanese or
the mountainous-terrain-climbing Austrians) -- somehow their natural
lifestyles already take care of ensuring proper diet, good exercise,
and long life.
But what about us, regular people? We gain weight at the sight of
food, we work seated in office cubicles all day, our only aerobic
activity is climbing a dozen steps to the upstairs bedroom, and the
only walking we do (most of us don't have dogs) is from the car to
the couch. What can we do to burn calories and keep our weight down?
Fortunately, our dedicated dieticians, nutritionists, and fitness
experts have come up with a few simple strategies -- to help
maintain our ideal weight and maybe even shed off those pounds that
have miraculously managed to tip the scale.
1. Build muscle to burn fat. Strength training, rather
than aerobic exercise, is now becoming a more logical solution to
keeping weight gain in check. Muscles burn calories even while you
sleep. For every pound of muscle you add to your physique, you burn
an average of 50 calories a day just to maintain these muscles.
Strength training makes the muscles demand energy which makes the
body burn its fat reserves. Leg and thigh muscles, being the most
massive group, burn the most calories per workout session.
2. Keep moving. Researches at the Stanford University and
the Mayo Clinic have determined that fidgeting burns extra calories.
Moving about and changing positions, like crossing and un-crossing
your legs, stretching, and just plain "restless" movements, can
actually help you lose weight. So, to complement your regular
workout, stay active and avoid falling into the habit of sitting in
the couch and using your remote control to operate every gadget in
the room. House chores are good calorie burners -- even small tasks
like setting the table, straightening the books on the shelves, and
picking up after the kids. Every little burn helps.
3. Walk like you have a purpose. For years, fitness
experts have been emphasizing the health benefits of walking. They
say get a dog so you're forced to take a stroll daily; or park at
the far end of the parking lot so you'll need to walk a little to
and from your car. Now, the experts are saying we should try to burn
more calories from walking by picking up our step. Walk tall and add
a little spring to your stride. Take each walking opportunity to the
hilt -- burn as much energy as you can. When you walk down the
office corridor, walk like you have a purpose. You do -- you want to
burn more calories!
4. Eat more often to keep your blood-sugar levels up. When
your body starts to tell you that you're hungry, eat. When you start
to feel that you're not hungry anymore, stop. When we allow
ourselves to go too hungry, our blood-sugar levels drop, we get
lethargic and craving, and we end up bingeing. More and more
dieticians are teaching us to eat five to six "small meals" (of
complex carbohydrates with a little protein and fat) daily. This way
we even out our calorie intake, blood sugar levels, and all-day
5. Make dinner your lightest meal. Experts are asking us
this rhetorical question: "Why should you eat so much when you're
already going to sleep?" The orientation they want us to take is: we
eat to fuel ourselves for the tasks we need to do. That means, we
must put the high-calorie meal earlier in the day, for the energy we
require to perform our daily activities. Dinner may be the best time
to sit down and have a feast -- but unfortunately, there's no time
to burn the calories.
Five simple strategies that obviously make sense. Strength
training, fidgeting, walking, small but frequent meals, and a light
dinner -- all leading to calorie burn and weight loss. Why don't you
try them and find out?
[First published by
WhOOdoo.com, 2000; Also published by PowerhouseGym.com Fitness News, Sept 2001]