Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Losing Weight 101: Seven Sort of Simple Steps To Success

Just about every woman I know KNOWS how to lose weight. She's done it. I've done it. It comes back (for most of us). We do it again. It comes back again.

We buy magazines whose cover teasers promise LOSE TEN POUNDS IN TWO WEEKS! or insist that YOU CAN BE BUFF BY BIKINI SEASON! or demand that you TRY OUT DIET AND LOSE IT FOR GOOD!

Admit it. They call to you.

But deep down, we know that, barring weird glandular disorders or a shot-to-heck thyroid (and yes, mine is a lump of scar tissue that barely functions and I would go into a deadly coma without my medication), losing weight is really simple:

~You eat less than you need to maintain your current weight
~You burn off calories and increase lean mass by exercise

That's it. The age-old secret to weight loss.

But it's hard. If it weren't, we wouldn't be a nation where 2/3 of our population is overweight, and an increasing number are joining the officially obese (not to mention officially morbidly obese, like moi).

It's tough cause food surrounds us. In ads on tv and magazines. Every block seems to have a bakery or pizza place or burger joint or Mexican eatery or Italian ristorante or Chinese buffet. Supermarket shelves blare out with tempting stuff, good and bad. We have huge fridges, large pantries, and they beg to be filled. Workers bring donuts and cookies at every possible occasion (and sometimes, for no reason). We eat out more as Americans, and restaurants all serve humongous, enough-for-two-three-and-sometimes-four portions. (If you don't think this is true, think I exaggerate, look at what is considered a serving of rice or pasta in a nutrition book, and then compare to what you get at your favorite eatery.) And to top that off, we like processed, convenience foods that are high in salt, usually laden with high fructose corn syrup (shown to be BAD BAD BAD for us, and maybe part of the whole diabetes epidemic), and probably chock full of stuff you wouldn't normally put in your recipes.

I'm old enough to remember when REGULAR ORDER burgers, the small ones with two ounces of meat, was the norm. When fries came in small packets. When soda was eight ounces, no more. When coke bottles were slendersized. And so...me and you and he and she are accustomed to supersized portions of everything and lots of sugar and salt and little produce and fiber.

Add to all that the fact that we sit a lot. We don't need to walk to work, we drive. We don't need to work as hard doing laundry or dishes as we used to. We sit in front of tvs, video games, computers, and...vegetate.

I do, says the Couch Potato Queen.

So, there is no easy answer. (And even gastric bypass surgery people can regain weight if they aren't watchful. Seen Carnie Wilson of late?) We have to fight the culture. Our society encourages us to become lardbutt couch-sitters. Our towns--especially mine, I can tell you--aren't planned to encourage walks, rides, neighborhood outdoor play, or walking to do groceries. We're all about speed and cars and being inside with the a/c and the latest hit movie on DVD. Our kids are bulging and developing "older folk" diseases. Heart disease is the number one killer.

We're eating and sitting ourselves to death. Me, included. Me, especially included.

We need to pray for our nation's health, and our own, individually.

And let's try to do some simple things to start:

~1. Eat five and more fruits and vegetables a day, fresh or frozen. (Canned is not very nutritive, folks). Aim for 9-11. Those colors are good for you.

~2. Move 30 minutes a day. To music. In your garden. Up and down stairs. At a gym. To a video. Walk the dog. Skate. Bike. Swim. March in place while reading a good book. Clean vigorously. Lift your hands and praise God with holy dance for a half hour. Just move.

~3. Whatever amount you're used to eating, consciously cut down. If you're pudgy or chubby or bigger-than-an-SVU, cut it by half. Or a third. Cut it by some measure. Be willing not to be stuffed; be willing to just NOT be genuinely hungry. (I am used to eating large meals. I don't satisfy easily. I have to eat volume. If you do, too, check out Volumetrics.) Get a good healthy lifestyle book that will show you what you should weigh and what portions really look like. If you have Syndrome X or diabetes or high blood pressure, there are great eating plans for every one of these conditions. (I have Syndrome X/metabolic syndrome.)

~4. Commit to write down, for the next four weeks, everything you eat, including it's caloric value or WW points value. EVERYTHING. Down to that Hershey's kiss (25 calories) or that lil spoonful of peanut butter you swiped from the fridge, or that piece of appetizer cheese or that half-danish you noshed at that office meeting, or the "taste" of your spouse's lasagna at Luigi's Love Shackery. Educate yourself about calories (or points), good fat vs. bad fat, adequate protein intake, healthy high-fiber carbohydrates vs. unhealthy processed ones. (The web is full of advice. Weed through it.)

Writing down what you eat is the only way you'll really know how much you're used to consuming, and why it's not balanced or excessive. (Most people guesstimate calories WRONG, and forget the things they nosh on on-the-go. That's why you carry a little journal and write it down!) You may learn when your danger times are, like late night or 4 pm.

~5. Drink a lot of water. Drink it warm, cold, in batches, or sips. But drink 6-8 glasses a day. Staying hydrated helps.

~6. Take a well-rounded multivitamin. Cover your bases. :) (If you have sugar issues, ask your doc about cinnamon and Alpha Lipoic Acid supplements, maybe even chromium picolinate. These helped me lower my blood glucose to normal after it went wonky, even without losing weight.)

~7. Pray. Praying, besides being good for your mind and soul and being COMMANDED by the Good Lord, actually helps you physically. It relaxes you, like meditating. It lowers blood pressure. And God does hear the prayers of His children. He wants us to be self-controlled (one of the fruits of the Spirit). So pray. Just do it!

There are other things you can do depending on what you personally need: a support group or another type of accountability structure, a weight loss pal, an exercise machine or a gym membership, a dietician to give one-on-one guidance, an endocrinologist to check out your system (many women have undiagnosed thyroid dysfunction), a personal trainer to teach you how to work out properly. Always, always, always, talk to your doc, especially people like me who take many medication and suffer from chronic conditions. Your doc will try to help you, if he or she is worth their M.D. degree.

Good luck, and I pray for you all happy hydrating, serene smaller-portioning, mirthful moving, sanctified supplementing, joyful journaling, pleasant produce-ingesting, powerful praying, and God's amazing grace.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13


sally apokedak said...

Wow, Mir, only you could make dieting info sound fun. Zippy and zesty writing.

Mirtika said...

Hey, Sally-gally. Now, that's a BIG compliment. ;)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I'm a lo-carber. I have been for about three years. I lost 68 pounds and have kept it off, but I really need to loose another 50 but I need to move my butt!!!

No...I don't want to...yes, you do!

See, I go through this all day long! I can't shut the rest of me up! LOL

Camy Tang said...

Those are all good things. My biggest problem is the whole big volume eating. I've been doing good, though, with eating more vegetables, soups, etc. Except it's the late night dessert cravings that are killing me.

You know what I'm going to try, though? I'm going to stop putting Splenda in my hot tea and see if that helps. I heard that the no-cal sweeteners can actually cause you to secrete insulin.

I started today, so let's see if it actually helps.

Mirtika said...

Camy, you out and buy REPUBLIC OF TEA's flavored teas. I don't put sugar in them cause the fruity or spicy flavors are really nice. The fundraising one (for breast cancer) is a bit more expensive, but it's SOOOO GOOD it' smy new fave. It's grapefruit flavored, and the scent is heavenly.

I struggle late night (what late night is for me). I always get late night munchies. I've been fighting them like mad.

BONNIE--that's a lot of weight you lost. WOW. Congrats. I hope you make the rest of your goal. I want you healthy and long-lived, girl. :D