Each pound of body weight equals 3500 kcal (calories). To gain a pound, you simply eat 3500 calories more than you burn. To lose a pound, it’s the opposite and much more difficult to accomplish—you must eat less or burn more, to equal a deficit of 3500 calories.
For example, if you eat one banana per day (100 calories) more than you have burned, in one week you will have stored 700 extra calories. That makes 2800 calories in a month and in one year, about ten pounds of excess weight. One hundred calories doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up. It is just: one tablespoon of butter, a slice of bread (with a teaspoon of butter), an apple. It’s in the numbers.
If you are in the habit of eating ice cream at bedtime, one scoop contains about 400 calories. That adds up even faster. If you eat a scoop of ice cream even three nights a week without earning it by exercising 400 calories, in a year, you will be fifteen pounds heavier. But do you only eat one scoop, or do you eat more and with chocolate syrup?
So, what do you have to do to earn a 400 calorie treat? A 120 pound person jumping rope burns about 9 calories per minute. That means you have to jump rope for 43 minutes. Not many of us will do that even for ice cream. Hiking for 1.5 hours, the same weight person would burn off 400 calories. Or just walk 4 miles per day and you have earned your 400 calorie snack and won’t gain weight.
Losing weight is more difficult than quitting smoking because you must make thoughtful food choices everyday, many times a day, for life. Quitting smoking is quitting, no more choices. You don’t need tobacco to live but you do need food.
Motivation to lose weight must come from within. It takes dedication and a change in eating patterns. It is life-changing and you can do it! To be successful, some people need to change friends. Friends who tempt you with high calorie meals and don’t assist you in your plan are not friends. They are like people who offer liquor to alcoholics who have quit drinking.
There are no excuses. Being overweight and unhealthy is not purely genetic. It is about fifty percent environmental. Yes, body type such as the “apple shape,” those with a round belly and skinny legs, are familial and at high risk for heart disease and diabetes. But weight control, food choices and exercise, are healthy choices that can change all that. Identical twin studies show the twin adopted into a family of healthy-eating exercisers attains a thin body shape. The twin adopted into a family of snackers who are couch potatoes ends up overweight like the adoptive family.
Unfortunately, there is no magic to weight loss. Effective weight control or weight loss plans all include exercise. Exercise increases metabolism, improves fitness, burns calories, decreases depression, prolongs life—and it goes on and on. Try to make exercise a part of your day and your healthy weight plan. If you walk for thirty minutes, climb stairs for fifteen minutes or do general housework for twenty-five minutes, you will burn one hundred calories.
Eliminating excess fat intake is the easiest way to cut calories. You would hardly miss a tablespoon of butter that contains one hundred calories. One tablespoon of oil is found in many creamy salad dressings, mayo and most gravy. Envision how much a tablespoon contains. It is a small amount, much less than the usual ladle commonly used to serve salad dressing. You can still use salad dressing; just don’t sabotage your plan. Or better yet, use low-calorie vinegar dressing instead.
Weight Watchers teaches people how to eat. Healthy food choices become a part of every meal. They use a point system instead of calorie counting to make it simple and with this method you will learn how to eat. If you are not inclined to attend meetings you can join online or find a friend who has similar interests, learn to count calories, eat healthy and walk every day. If you have trouble walking, find an activity such as stationary bicycling or swimming that you and your physician believe is safe for you.
Set a goal. If you lose one pound a week, that is 52 pounds in a year. If you are significantly overweight and would like to lose that much, it is best to do it gradually with healthy choices and exercise. That way you are much more likely to keep it off and improve your health for life. The Mediterranean diet which consists primarily of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean meat and fish, provides easy healthful food choices. You omit fried foods, caloric pastries and use mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil sparingly.
Some holiday thoughts regarding food choices:
- Serve healthy low-calorie food options to your family and guests.
- Keep candy and sweets out of view. Lower temptations to snack.
- Don’t buy unhealthy snacks. Consider chips poison due to calories, fat and excess salt content.
- Keep apples in view. It is a low calorie healthful snack.
- Forget pies and ice cream. A slice of pie is about 400 calories a slice.
- Go very light on pasta, gravies, creamy salad dressings, mayo and nuts.
Overview of a few calorie counts on common food choices:
- 1 cup of oil roasted peanuts~900 calories
- 20 almonds~150 calories
- 1 cup plain pasta or 1 cup white rice or 1 cup mashed potatoes~ 220 calories
- 2 slices white meat turkey~45 calories
- 3 slices cooked bacon, fat drained~100 calories
- 1 boiled egg~ 80 calories
- 1 egg white~ 15 calories
- 1 slice bread~70 calories
- 1 peanut butter/butter/2 slices of bread sandwich~400 calories
- 1 cup cooked green beans~45 calories
- 1 medium apple~ 90 calories
Make 2013 a healthier year for you and your family. In this chaotic world, there are many things out of our control, but inside your world, examine what you can control. Small changes in the right direction can make a huge difference in your health.