Tips for Dieting
If you have a weight problem, you can ﬁnd many programs to help you lose extra pounds, but the only proven method to lose weight and keep it off is to eat less and become more active. A calorie- and fat-restricted diet that follows the Food Guide Pyramid (see page 5) recommendations, combined with a regular exer- cise program, will help you reach your target weight range safely. You should realistically aim to shed only 1 to 21⁄2 pounds per week by consuming about 500 calories less per day than usual. During your weight-loss regimen, periods may occur during which you may not lose any weight at all, but don’t get discour- aged. This is normal. The pounds will start to come off again in a week or two.
Avoid crash or fad diets because they may not provide all the nutrients you need, and extreme diets can be harmful to your health. Even worse, such diets often do not work over the long term. Here are some suggestions that can help you lose weight successfully:
• Don’t skip meals, including breakfast, because you will be tempted to eat more later in the day.
• Keep a diary of your food intake before and after you begin your diet, so you can compare the difference and make sure you are getting enough nutrients.
• Start an exercise log so that, as you build stamina and endurance, you can see your progress and stay motivated.
• Don’t consume fewer than 1,400 calories a day, to make sure you get all the nutrients you need.
• Cut back on fat by buying low-fat substitutes for mayonnaise and other higher-fat foods. Trim fat from meat. Drink 1 percent or fat-free milk.
• Reduce your intake of sugar by having fresh fruit or yogurt for dessert.
• Experiment with herbs and spices to add ﬂavor to food and to make up for less sugar, salt, and fat.
• Ask your family to support your diet and exercise program by encouraging you or participating with you.
How Exercise Helps You Lose Weight
Reducing your intake of food is only half of the weight-loss equation. The other half is becoming more physically active. To lose 1 pound, you have to burn 3,500 calories. Exercise burns calories quickly, helping you shed those excess pounds even faster. Physical exercise builds muscle and lean body mass (see The Body Mass Index, page 18). Having more muscle gives you a higher metabolism (the process in your cells that produces energy), so you naturally burn more calories, even when you are at rest. Your metabolism stays especially high for several hours after you exercise, meaning that your body burns additional calories after you are physically active. Regular exercise also can suppress your appetite, so you don’t feel like eating as much as usual. The following table lists various types of sustained physical activity. Each of these activities, which vary in time and level of intensity, can help you burn an additional 100 to 200 calories per day.
Comparing Types of Physical Activity
Washing and waxing car for 45 to 60 minutes Less vigorous, more time
Washing windows or ﬂoors for 45 to 60 minutes
Playing volleyball for 45 minutes
Playing touch football for 30 to 45 minutes
Gardening for 30 to 45 minutes
Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30 to 40 minutes
Walking 13⁄4 miles for 35 minutes
(20 minutes per mile) Shooting baskets for 30 minutes Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes Dancing fast for 30 minutes
Pushing a stroller 11⁄2 miles in 30 minutes
Raking leaves for 30 minutes
Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15 minutes per mile) Doing water aerobics for 30 minutes
Swimming laps for 20 minutes
Playing wheelchair basketball for 20 minutes Playing a game of basketball for 15 to 20 minutes Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes
Jumping rope for 15 minutes
Running 11⁄2 miles in 15 minutes
(10 minutes per mile)
Stair climbing for 15 minutes More vigorous, less time
Choose an activity you enjoy or one you regularly perform. Start slowly, and gradually increase the intensity of your workout. You may want to begin by walk- ing for 30 minutes 3 days per week. Then gradually work your way up to 45 minutes of walking 5 days per week. Your goal should be to exercise for at least 30 minutes or more most (if not all) days of the week. You can do your exercise all at one time or in shorter segments throughout the day. Eventually, as you become more physically ﬁt, you may be able to participate in more vigorous activities for longer periods of time. But don’t expect miracles to happen right away. Focus on the realistic goal of losing 1 to 21⁄2 pounds per week. Remember that you are not just trying to lose weight, you also want to keep it off. After you have reached your weight-loss target, continue to exercise regularly to keep the pounds off.