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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.

Eat a well-balanced breakfast.

You may feel you're too busy, not hungry, need extra sleep, or that you are better off sleeping than eating. But that’s not true.  Breakfast is a very important meal. Be sure to make time for it every morning.  Otherwise, you will end up hungry later in the morning and you will be more likely to eat whatever is convenient and potentially unhealthy, like a high-calorie latte and a high-fat muffin.  A healthy breakfast could consist of fruit or fruit juice, whole-grain cereal or bread, and milk or yogurt. Including some protein, like yogurt, will help keep you feeling full longer. By eating breakfast, 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.

Pack  a healthy lunch.

Choosing the right breakfast great, but lunch is important too!  Be prepared for lunch time. Try packing a lunch a couple times per week. If you must eat out, make healthy choices and choose a sensible entree, 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.

Have a healthy attitude about exercise.

Most people think of exercise only as a way to lose and keep 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, that you can do with the whole family. You can even go on a bike ride together. Exercise does not have to be your enemy!

Try to squeeze in a 20-minute workout into every day. 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.

Many people eat not only when they are hungry, but also when they are bored, sad, angry, or stressed. Walking is a productive way to decrease or get rid of negative emotions. When your pulse speeds up and your body temperature rises, your appetite is slightly suppressed. You’ll also be able to determine if you’re hungry or just trying to suppress an emotion through eating.

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 be boring. 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 entertained.

Allow yourself to eat the foods you love.

Everyone deserves a treat once in a while. Try some low-fat alternatives such as frozen yogurt, sorbet, or sherbet you could eat instead of ice cream. If you don’t feel substituting ice cream is feasible, have a small serving and do not make it an every day habit.

Choose complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydratesinclude 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 carbohydrates 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 digest and typically have a higher nutritional value than simple carbohydrates.

Try adding fewer condiments to your food.

How often do you use butter, mayonnaise, or sour cream? Do you put condiments on everything you eat? There are other ways to make our foods taste great. Try a butter substitute and/or spices to add moisture and flavor to your food. Cutting out some of the condiments you use will help you decrease calories, and over time, lose weight.

Choose your snack foods wisely.

Snacking will keep you from getting terribly hungry before your next meal. If you are too hungry, you could end up over eating. Eat fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and other health snacks when you are hungry.

Burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight and keep it off.

Some of the points made in this article will help guide you toward either consuming less 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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