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The Last Few Pounds

Por Leslie Rodríguez, RD, LD* -

It’s easy to lose the first few pounds when you go on a diet. Why do the last 5 seem impossible?

It’s frustrating to feel like you have made so much progress and still cannot reach your goal. You may think the only thing left to do is crash diet or take some other extreme measures, but there are some easy steps to follow for shedding those last few pounds. These are not temporary quick fixes; they’re lifestyle changes you should implement long-term. Here are some common habits that are easy to break and will provide you with many benefits. Don’t worry, you don’t have to try them all to get the results you want.

First, eat a well-balanced breakfast. You may think you’re too busy, not hungry, or better off getting some extra sleep than eating. But that’s not true; breakfast is actually very important. Make time for it every morning. If you don’t, you will end up hungry later in the morning and you will probably eat whatever is convenient, like a high-calorie latte and a high-fat muffin. This combination could cost you 45 grams of fat. This is a lot. If you are on a 2000-calorie diet, your recommended daily amount of fat is 66 grams. A healthy breakfast would consist of fruit or fruit juice, whole-grain cereal or bread, and milk or yogurt. Including protein, like yogurt, will help keep you feeling satisfied longer. You will not feel as tempted to reach for a high-fat snack later in the morning. If you drink coffee, use skim milk instead of cream to decrease the fat content.

Choosing the right breakfast is not enough. Be prepared when lunch comes around. Try packing a lunch a couple times per week. If you must eat out, make healthy choices and choose a sensible entrée, and make sure your side dishes are equally sensible. For example, a grilled chicken sandwich won’t do you much good if you eat it with french fries. Opt for a side salad with low-fat dressing or steamed vegetables.
Change your mentality about exercise. Most people think of exercise simlply as a vehicle for losing and keeping weight off. They end up dreading it and making excuses to not engage in physical activity. Think of exercise as a fun way to relax and enjoy time by yourself or with your family. You should also pick enjoyable activities like swimming or hiking to do with the whole family. You can even go on a bike ride together. Exercise does not have to be your enemy!

Since exercise won’t seem so terrible, squeeze a 20-minute workout into everyday. Consider getting up 20 minutes earlier or stopping by the gym for 20 minutes after work. Try a running routine. Jog about 2 miles in those 20 minutes. If you run 2 miles, 6 days a week, you will end up running almost 2 marathons every month. That will really help you lose those pesky last 5 pounds.

Another way to get to your 20-minute goal is to walk in response to emotions. Many people eat not only when they are hungry, but also when they are bored, sad, or angry. Walking is a more productive way to feel better. When your pulse quickens and your body temperature rises, your appetite is slightly suppressed. This will give you time to choose your snack. You’ll also be able to determine if you’re hungry or just trying to suppress an emotion through eating. Walking is also a great way to blow off some stress… try it!

If you already exercise on a regular basis, congratulations! There is still something else you could do to lose more weight. Change your routine every 6 to 10 weeks or try cross training. Your body adapts to your exercise routine and makes you spend less energy to do the same movements, which could slow your progress. You may even end up with sports-related injuries as a result of using the same muscles over and over again. Instead of just biking or walking 6 days a week, alternate days you bike with days you walk, or try swimming a couple of days per week. This will give your body time to recover after each activity. It will also keep you interested.

Do not eliminate foods you love from your diet simply because they’re too high in fat. Everyone deserves a treat once in a while. Try some low-fat alternatives such as frozen yogurt, sorbet, or sherbet instead of ice cream. If you feel you can't do without ice cream, have a small serving and do not make it an everyday habit.

Carbohydrates get a lot of attention and they come in many different forms. Choose them wisely. Simple carbohydrates include white bread, pasta, candy, and sugar cereals. Your body quickly digests them, so you end up feeling hungry shortly after you eat them. Try pairing simple carbs with protein in order to stay satisfied longer, or look for complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, bran, and oatmeal, take longer to break down.

Try eating less butter. How often do you use butter? Do you put it on everything from toast to vegetables? There are other ways to make foods taste great. Try a butter substitute, or use alternatives like jam, honey, or peanut butter on toast. Cutting out some butter fat grams will help you lose weight long-term.

Choose your snack foods wisely. Snacking will keep you from getting overly hungry before your next meal. If you are too hungry, you could end up overeating. Eat fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and other healthy snacks when you are hungry, and be careful about grazing on energy bars. They tend to be loaded with calories.

Burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight and keep it off. The points made in this article will help guide you toward your goal, either by consuming fewer calories or burning more, so that your diet works and keeps on working. Once you reach your target weight, don’t return to your old eating habits. The result will be weight gain and frustration. Instead, change your lifestyle and your mentality. Your healthy new habits will stick with you forever!

*Specialist in sports nutrition and physical activity with MyDiet™


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