If there is one topic of discussion that most women have in common it is the issue of weight and certainly for my generation, generation X, that conversation almost always centers around weight loss and weight loss goals. Today I am within 2 lbs of the weight that I was in my last year of college, more than twenty years ago, despite gaining thirty pounds in each of my two pregnancies. I must admit that when people look at me, besides saying that I am “skinny”, they make a few other assumptions some of which I am privy to, like it’s in my genes or the suggestion that I don’t eat or enjoy food.
As far as genes go, my paternal grandmother was on the slimmer side but on the other hand my maternal grandmother was not and by any standard definition she would have been considered obese, although she was quite satisfied with her weight and died less than one month prior to her one-hundredth birthday.
As for food, I would definitely consider myself a foodie. I love food and am almost always willing to try new exciting dishes. ‘All you can eat buffets’ were particularly dangerous places for me when I was younger because not only would I want to try almost every food they had to offer, I often did. As I have grown older, I limit my visits to such places because the price of my overindulgence is higher. So I definitely do eat.
What have I done to keep my weight off?
1. Weigh daily
I weigh often- I must admit knowing my weight has always been important to me and maybe even a minor obsession, but it has been beneficial. I always know when I am gaining weight and that allows me to correct the weight gain before it reaches out of hand. Apart from pregnancy, I do not allow myself to gain more than five pounds before cracking down, meaning decreasing my food intake and/or increasing my exercise. As I have gotten older both are often required. I have often heard from women who don’t weigh regularly that either they are too afraid to know the number or that they can feel it when they have gained weight. Since these women are often significantly heavier than their desired weight I can’t help but think of that great line from that Match.com ad “How well is that working for you?” The reality is, by the time most of us notice our weight gain it is often at a level that already feels overwhelming and instead of dealing with it when it is at a level we can tackle we have to face a seemingly insurmountable weight loss goal. Still it is never too late to start. Weigh yourself even if you are not up to the challenge of weight loss; at least you can avoid further weight gain. However you don’t have to take my word for it. Dr. Dori Steinberg, a researcher at Duke University, found that people who weighed daily had improved weight loss compared even to those weighed most days per week.
So go ahead, don’t by shy and step on that scale.
2. Take home made lunch to work almost everyday
I must admit that my main motivation for taking lunch over the years has been cost saving. However the benefits have been more far reaching. I avoided many of the extra calories from eating out, as research has confirmed that the more we eat out the more likely we are to gain weight. Hence all those lunches that people pay for are not just detrimental to their pocket but to their weight. Furthermore, when I have limited time to eat, having lunch in hand prevents me from missing my meals, which leads me to my next point. Some of you may ask, who has time to prepare lunch? Well I usually take leftovers from dinner the night before and yes, I do admit regular food preparation does take planning and commitment, but it is so worth it, not just for your weight but for your overall health and with practice preparation gets much more efficient.
3. Avoid skipping meals
Regardless of how busy I am, and I have been busy as a wife, mother and an Obstetrician and Gynecologist I ensure that I take even five minutes to eat. My demanding choice of careers in addition to growing up with two brothers has led me to be a particularly fast eater. Perhaps some would advise against eating too quickly and some of the negatives are over consumption of food but of course if you took sensible portions for lunch and did not supplement with unhealthy snacks you could help to avoid that. On the other hand skipping meals can actually affect your metabolism and potentially lead to extra fat around the abdomen. Who wants that?
4. Avoid sugary drinks
For years I have been avoiding sodas and other sugary drinks because I just thought they were a waste of calories and frankly I preferred to get my calories from food. However, there is quite a bit of scientific evidence that sugary drinks can increase your risk of multiple health problems including diabetes and heart disease. So reach for the water instead.
5. Avoid fad diets and severe food restrictions
During college a friend and I decided to try to a diet. We replaced most of our meals with shakes for a week. At the end of the week I made the mistake of over consuming a popular fast food and the next day I had belly pain that rivaled the pain that I felt when I was in labor. At other times if I tried to impose harsh food restrictions on myself, when I relaxed the restrictions I tended to go over board on the previously forbidden food. I have to say I learned my lesson. I do recognize that many people use the diets to jump-start their weight loss and there is weight loss, but only in the short term. If you want to be among the 5% that keep it off or increase that number, you really do need to make the lifestyle changes that go with it such as of course, you know, healthier food choices, exercise and good sleep.
6. Keep the temptation out of the house
While with age, I have gotten better at resisting food temptation I am still well aware of my limitations. So I avoid buying those tasty but high calorie snacks, foods and deserts because frankly if its not in the house I won’t eat it. Some people tell me they would still go out to buy it. Well I say go out then, at least you will get some activity in to help burn those extra food calories.
Ok I admit it, weight loss is still difficult but I know that these are easy ways that even if you can’t shed all the pounds it can certainly help you to stop piling them on.