By Patricia Canole
With warmer temperatures right around the corner, it’s time to think of outdoor workouts and healthier eating plans. If this is the case and you want to lose a few pounds—but can’t face the thought of strict eating programs, then take heart. You can lose weight without suffering. By making small changes in your daily routine, you can lose 14 pounds in just over two months without feeling deprived—and still, have plenty of energy to take care of those last-minute planning details.
It’s simple math. For every 3,500 calories, you expend above what you take in; you lose a pound. Pare 350 calories from what you normally eat and burn an extra 350 a day and you’ll be 14 pounds lighter in 60 days. Follow these simple suggestions, and you’ll not only lose weight—you’ll also create new habits that will help keep you trim throughout the year!
Many of us tend to eat more servings of fat-free foods like bagels, cereals, and grains than we realize. People have heard the message about weighty matters, but not the message that portions of food also matter. Check the food packaging for suggested serving size and compare it to what you’re eating—you may be surprised. A 105-calorie serving of Grape Nuts, for example, is only one cup of cereal—a large bowl can easily exceed 400 calories. If you’re dining out and can’t control your portions, just divide your meal into thirds and leave a third on your plate—you’ll cut your total calories without feeling deprived. Save 209 calories by leaving a third of your cheeseburger and fries at lunch.
If you tend to be a fast eater, try a “speed bump” food at the beginning of your meal. A speed bump food is something like hot soup or spicy salsa that you can’t consume very quickly—so you’re forced to slow down, which gives your body a chance to feel satisfied before you overeat. Since it takes at least twenty minutes to feel full, take your time and concentrate on enjoying your food instead of gobbling it down—you’ll wind up consuming less. Save 352 calories by skipping that third piece of deep-dish pepperoni pizza.
How many calories are you drinking? If you regularly down lattes or sweetened beverages, it’s probably more than you think. A lot of research has shown that people don’t look at beverages as food. So many of us confess they’ve had two cups of juice at breakfast not realizing that’s 300 calories right there—that’s three miles of walking. Cutting back on coffee and tea can have a significant effect on your weight if you usually add cream or sugar to them. If you drink a lot of java, you can lose 10 pounds in a year simply by drinking it black instead of with cream! Save 20 calories for every cup of coffee you drink black instead of with a tablespoon of half-and-half.
We tend to eat the same foods over and over, so look at the foods you regularly consume and cut calories that you won’t miss. If you always eat buttered toast for breakfast, try it with jam or fruit spread instead. Cut back on the mayo you spread on your sandwich. And instead of using margarine on cooked vegetables, try a non-fat butter-flavored spray. Save 100 calories per tablespoon of margarine you skip.
Don’t be daunted by burning additional calories—it’s easier than you think. In other words, everything—from standing up out of a chair to walking down a hall to lifting weights or biking—counts, so people need to be conscious of trying to increase physical activity in little ways throughout the day. Even the busiest of us can work extra movement into their schedules, Park farther away from the store or take the stairs instead of the elevator when you’re running errands. Even household chores like vacuuming, sweeping and dusting can be challenging depending on how much effort you expend. The harder you work, the more calories you use! Burn 170 calories for 40 minutes of house cleaning and doing laundry.
Are you truly hungry when you eat? Or do you tend to snack out of habit without paying attention to your appetite? If you’re eating when you’re not hungry, those are usually extra calories that your body does not need. Instead, “check in” with your body to confirm that you’re physically hungry before you eat. Save 246 calories by passing up two chocolate chip cookies and a glass of 2 percent milk.
Don’t overlook the calorie-burning benefits of regular exercise—aim for thirty minutes of sustained physical activity most days of the week. You may find it more convenient to break this time into three ten-minute segments if you don’t have the time for one sustained workout. Take breaks from work and walk up and down the stairs or go outside. Burn 117 calories by walking up and down your stairs for 10 minutes.
Finally, if you want to achieve lasting weight loss, don’t neglect strength training. It’s effective for weight control because it helps maintain muscle mass and muscle burns more calories than fat even at rest. Investing in dumbbells and performing a simple weight routine twice a week will keep you toned—and increase the number of calories you burn even when you’re relaxing at home with your new husband! Burn 110 calories by lifting dumbbells for 20 minutes.
With all the low-fat and reduced-calorie versions of foods now available, it takes little effort to cut calories from your everyday eating. Replace regular tortilla chips and guacamole with no-fat chips and salsa, for example, and you’ll save 120 calories. Other smart-and-simple substitutions:
Orange Crush soda(200 calories)
1 oz. Cheddar cheese(114 calories)
1 oz. Cream cheese (99 calories)
1 oz. Potato chips(150-200 calories)
8 oz. Fresh orange juice(111 calories)
8 oz. Apple juice(116 calories)
1 Slice of beef bologna(72 calories)
3.5 oz. Light meat chicken with skin(246 calories)
Diet Orange Crush soda(24 calories)
1 oz. Mozzarella(80 calories)
1 oz. Light cream cheese(62 calories)
1 oz. Pretzels(108 calories)
1 Medium orange(65 calories)
1 Medium apple(81 calories)
1 Slice of turkey bologna(60 calories)
3.5 oz. Chicken without skin(192 calories)