Almost everyone enjoys spending quality time basking in the sun’s summer rays and shedding some clothes. With that, people become more conscious about their body shapes and will do nearly anything to shed those winter pounds and get “toned” for summer. But the truth is, it’s not that easy to attain your ideal weight loss and shape without knowing what’s right for your body, and most importantly, what’s working, explains Dr. Vicki March, co-founder of UPMC BodyChangers.
“You really have to look at the whole picture,” says March. “It’s a combination of healthy eating, consistent physical activity, and coping strategies that leads to that feeling of well-being that we all want, and also gets our bodies to look and feel their best.”
Here is a simple plan from the UPMC BodyChangers team that can help you lose weight and tone up for the summer:
- Write it down: Keep a journal of your food intake every day for a week, in order to get a better idea of your eating patterns. Be sure to include snacks and beverages. By monitoring everything that you eat and drink, you become more accountable. When you see what you are doing, you can make changes that will get you on the right track to weight loss. Research shows that people who are successful with weight loss and weight loss maintenance are more likely to track their eating.
- Drink up: When it comes to losing weight, staying hydrated is a well-known tool. By drinking at least eight glasses of non-alcoholic, no-calorie fluid, preferably water, per day, you will maintain your hydration status and avoid the pitfall of mistaking thirst for hunger. If part of your weight loss plan is to exercise more, making up for fluid losses through perspiration is important. Some research indicates there may be a small weight loss advantage to drinking lots of water.
- Read food labels: Packaging can be deceiving. Words like low fat, less sugar, reduced calorie, low carb, whole grain, and all-natural are used to induce people to buy products that may not be as healthful as they appear. By reading food labels and ingredients, you get a much better sense of the nutritional value of a food and can weed out those items that are filled with additives and preservatives.
- Eat breakfast: Your mother was right – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You have gone eight or more hours without eating, and your body needs fuel. People who are in the habit of eating breakfast are more likely to enjoy weight loss maintenance. Choose a breakfast that includes complex carbs (fruit and whole grain cereal) and protein (low fat milk, low fat Greek yogurt, or eggs) to get a nice energy boost for the day. For lunch and dinner, use the “Healthy Plate” method: half the plate should be vegetables, a quarter of the plate lean protein, and a quarter of the plate a serving of whole grain (brown rice, whole wheat noodles, or quinoa).
- Get enough sleep: Many of us do not get enough sleep. Did you know that sleep deficits lead to weight gain? Research suggests that you are more likely to keep off the pounds if you get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep a day.
- Move More: The word “exercise” may be scary, so just think of it as “moving more.” Most of us are sedentary, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems. The more you move, the healthier you will be, and the easier it will be to manage your weight. So start slowly. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car in the spot farthest from your destination, pay your co-worker a visit instead of e-mailing. You also can wear a pedometer and gradually increase your daily steps until you reach 10,000 a day.