Friday, September 1, 2006
In the last issue of Mshale we explored the different schemes and gimmicks people are seeking to lose weight. In this issue we shall look at the best way to lose and control weight. Please understand that there is no easy or quick way to lose weight. Weight management requires strong motivation, patience and hard work. It takes time and commitment. Here are the two areas that you have to work on to be able to manage weight appropriately.
1. Manage your diet
Work on your diet by reducing your total caloric intake. To lose one pound of body fat, one needs to expend 3500 calories. This means that if you want to lose one pound of body fat in a week, you need to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories each day for a week. Start paying attention to the caloric content of the foods you are consuming by reading the nutrition label.
Some Eating Tips for You
• Choose foods that are low in fats, cholesterol and sugars. For example, choose skim or 1 percent milk instead of 2 percent or whole milk.
• Choose higher fiber foods. These take longer to digest and tend to keep one full longer. For example, eat an apple instead of drinking apple juice.
• Choose more unprocessed and fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains
• When serving food, fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with starch or carbohydrates and the other quarter with meat or other protein foods.
• Eat slowly: it takes 20 minutes for the brain to register fullness or satiety from start of a meal.
• Reduce your portion sizes.
• Limit your total caloric intake but do not go below 1500 calories
• Do not skip any meals.
2. Increase physical activity.
Engaging in physical activity regularly will help you lose weight and keep it off. Exercise helps you suppress appetite and increase your energy level and has the added benefit of lowering risk of some chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Even with these known benefits, statistics indicate that approximately 40% of all adults in America do not participate in any form of regular physical activity.
With modern technology, the opportunity to be physically active is greatly reduced. Think about how much you used to walk and work back in your home country compared to the USA. You have probably adopted the American sedentary lifestyle and you therefore need to really examine your environment and see what ways you can begin to increase your activity. Any amount is better than none. For example, at the mall, park your car as far away from the entrance as possible, there is always more parking spaces further away. This will add a little exercise to your day. Avoid all drive through restaurants. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Open doors for yourself and avoid the automatic ones. You might also want to meet people for a walk in the park instead of lunch or dinner. If you have time and money you could sign up for membership at a fitness center. Some health insurance companies are now subsidizing the cost of membership to fitness centers so find out if your insurance carrier does this.
To lose weight, try and do 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most or all days of the week such as brisk walking, biking, dancing, yard work and aerobic exercises. Here are some suggestions given by experts in the field on ways to stay in an exercise program
• Start slowly
• Set specific goals that you can attain and reward yourself when you do
• Plan and build physical activity into your daily schedule
• Vary your activities to make it fun
• Involve your family and friends
• Focus on long-term benefits, do not let occasional setbacks cause you to give up
If you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25 or you have a waist measurement greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women, you need to start managing your weight. To lose weight, set a realistic weight loss goal and work at gradually reaching that goal. A realistic goal would be to lose 10% of your current weight in 6 months and you can aim to gradually reach that goal by losing about 1 to 2 pounds per week. Making small permanent changes that you can live with will provide better weight maintenance than taking drastic measures that are hard to adopt into your lifestyle.
Murugi holds a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. She is a Registered Dietitian and a Licensed Nutritionist in the State of Minnesota. She is a nutrition instructor at Century and Inver Hills Community Colleges and teaches nutrition classes in the community. You can reach her at [email protected]