Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Dangers of Physical Inactivity

Do you need some extra motivation to get you through your workout today? Well I've got it. The Lancet recently published a series on physical inactivity. It's great stuff, and with the Olympic games underway it's the perfect time to emphasize the importance of exercise. The Olympics should be the epitome of physical activity. However, the editorial Chariots of Fries notes that three major sponsors of the games are junk food giants McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Cadbury's. Ironic, no?

The series calls physical inactivity a global pandemic, and insists that it should be a public health priority. Here's to hoping that this series will be a call to action, encouraging more research on the subject of inactivity, educating people on the benefits of exercise, and inspiring people to push for policies that make it easier for people to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Interesting Points from the Series
  • Physical inactivity is the 4th leading cause of death
  • Physical inactivity increase the risk of several chronic diseases including:
    • coronary heart disease
    • type 2 diabetes
    • breast and colon cancer
  • Physical inactivity shortens life expectancy- inactivity causes 9% of premature mortality
  • Physical inactivity seems to have adverse health affects similar in severity to obesity and smoking (which we all know are major health concerns)
  • Inactivity increases with age
  • Females are more inactive than males (come on ladies...let's show the men how it's done)

So, what are you waiting for? Lace up those running shoes, and head out the door.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Friend Makin' Monday

Happy Monday Everyone! On Monday Kenlie over at All the Weigh hosts Friend Makin' Monday. How does it work? She posts questions on her blog. You answer them on your own blog, and then post a link at on All the Weigh. So, here are my answers. If you want to participate answer these questions on your own blog, and post the link in the comments of Kenlie's blog.

Goals and More

1. Brag about some of your daily, healthy habits.  I stopped drinking soda, and juice. And, I work hard to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day of at least 3 different colors.
2. Do you track your daily food intake? If so, how? Yes, I count calories using the free tools at Fitday. I stay under 2,000 calories a day (most of the time). I also try to get 100% of the recommended amount of calcium and iron (they tend to be a bit low if I don't pay attention to it).
3. What do you want to change most about your daily routine?  I want to start doing morning workouts, especially morning swims. I'm a night owl, and I really don't like to get up earlier than I have to in the morning. But, I think it would be easier to get my workouts in if I got them out of the way in the morning. And, I feel great all day after a morning workout.
4. How often do you exercise?  At least 4 days a week. I usually try to do 6.
5. How do you stay on track when you’re on the go? I cook a bunch of huge meals on the weekend and freeze them in individual portions. Then when I'm headed out the door in the morning I can just grab a couple meals out of the freezer and go.
6. What’s one excuse you use that prevents you from reaching your goals?  That since getting adequate sleep is so important for weight loss, on busy days I can skip my workout to mace sure I get adequate rest. While sleep is important, I need to prioritize exercise to be successful. And, once I skip a workout it's hard to get back into the routine.
7. What scares your most about your journey? That I  will become one of those lifelong yo-yo dieters. I just hope I don't forget how important it is to keep up this healthy lifestyle.
8. What do you think will change most when you reach your goal? (If you have reached it, what’s different?)  I will feel better about my body, and confidently wear a bikini to the beach. And, I will be setting myself up for a healthy life with a reduced risk of many chronic diseases.
9. What motivates you to reach your goals?  I want to be as healthy as I can be, and more confident. It is much easier to be active and enjoy sports and outdoor events without carrying around extra pounds. Also, I'm worried that if I don't get my weight under control now it will just continue to climb.
10. Share a few of your goals. 
  • Lose weight in a healthy way and reach my goal weight by 6-30-2013
  • Track daily food intake and exercise
  • Stay under 2,000 calories per day
  • Do exercise I enjoy at least 4 days per week
  • Don't eat vending machine food
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day
  • No soda or sweetened beverages (except hot cocoa)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Garlic and Mushroom Kale

I've been trying to add more fruits and veggies to my diet, and I figured the best way to do that is to add more variety. So, I'm trying some new recipes with veggies I don't usually eat. I have a hard time getting enough leafy greens, so I started there. First up: kale.

What's so great about kale? It's low in calories and high in fiber, perfect for weight loss. Additionally, it has high levels of iron, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and is chock full of antioxidants. Is doesn't get much better than that. I really don't like raw kale, so I was a bit leery of cooking with it. But, this recipe is great and simple. Adapted from Food and Wine.

1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic 
1 lb kale
8oz sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper (optional to taste)

  1. Heat olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add chicken stock.
  4. Add chopped kale leaves and mushrooms.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cover and cook on medium heat until kale is tender (~5 min).
  7. Remove lid and allow any extra liquid to evaporate.
  8. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Week 4 Weigh In

Prevent Yo-Yo Dieting by o5com, on Flickr

Previous Week's Weight =172.6 lbs
Today's Weight = 171.6 lbs
Lost This Week= 1 lbs
Total Lost = 8.4 lbs

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Woohoo! This week was a good one. I lost one pound, but even better I can now wear my belt 2 notches tighter. Proof that I'm losing some belly fat. That's exactly what I want. Here's to hoping I can keep it up. Only 2.3 pounds left until I reach a healthy BMI (not overweight). Hopefully, I'll be at a healthy weight by the end of August.

I got a decent amount of exercise this week as well: 4 tennis matches and 1 ballet class. With the wonderful summer weather I've been playing a lot of tennis (which is great), but my swimming has been getting left out. Summer should be the best time for swimming, but unfortunately I don't have access to an outdoor pool. Regardless, I'm going to try to get some more swims in, so I don't start to lose my endurance.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Benefits of Losing Weight

I love chocolate. Today was one of those days where I was questioning my desire for weight loss. Maybe it would just be better to stay a bit chubby and eat chocolate* to my heart's content. No. It wouldn't (besides my weight would probably continue to climb). I made a list of the benefits of weight loss to remind me why I'm embarking on this healthy lifestyle. And, I want to share it with you.

More Self-Confidence
Yes, it's what's on the inside that counts. But, I want the outside to look great too! First impressions matter, and we are judged on appearance frequently. I want the first impression of me to be that I look thin, fit, healthy, confident, and fabulous. And, of course, I'll continue to work hard to make sure I have a great heart to match my soon to be hot body.  I know that people can be beautiful and confident at any size, but being overweight definitely doesn't help. I'm looking forward to being able to wear any clothes I want without worrying about disguising the muffin top. Skinny jeans, and form-fitting clothes here I come.

Less Stress on Joints
I've got about 30 pounds to lose. It didn't seem like a whole lot until I picked up a 10 lb dumbbell. Imagine carrying three of those everywhere, all the time, and never being able to put them down. Sounds terrible, right? That's what happens when you are overweight. And, it puts a tremendous amount of stress on the joints. A study in Arthritis and Rheumatism showed that for each pound lost there is a 4 lb reduction in knee joint stress in overweight adults with osteoarthritis. Just a few pounds can greatly reduce the load on the joints. Great! Additionally, people who are overweight have a greater risk of osteoarthritis, something I want to avoid.

Better Athletic Performance
I really enjoy playing tennis and taking ballet classes. I'm not fabulous at either, but I want to be the best that I can, given the amount of time I spend on them. Again, I just imagine doing either of those carrying an extra 30 lbs. Sounds tough. Lose those, and I'll be able to run faster, jump higher, and generally be able to do more with less effort.

Look Good in a Swimsuit
I swim frequently, and while I am able to put aside my body insecurities to get my workout in, it sure would be nice if I could practice my flutter kick without feeling my thighs jiggle. Swimsuits show off your body (for better or for worse). And, I want my fellow swimmers to be admiring my fit, healthy look (yes, I'm vain...so what). Bikini body- here I come!

More Energy
This is probably one of the benefits I'm most looking forward to. A few pounds down, and I'm already feeling the difference. Every pound lost makes it easier to do everyday things. And, less effort leads to more energy for other things (like blogging).

Sleep Better
Losing weight can greatly reduce snoring and improve sleep apnea. I don't have either of these problems (yet), but as they say, and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Extra weight puts excess stress on the heart (this is bad). Losing excess fat, especially abdominal fat, reduces several cardiovascular risk factors including: high blood pressure, high total and LDL cholesterol, and high triglyceride levels. Losing weight can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke.

Prevent Diabetes
Losing excess weight decreases high blood sugar levels, and reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk of diabetes increases by ~25% for each 1 point increase in BMI over 22. In other words, excess weight greatly increases the risk of developing diabetes.

Lower Risk of Certain Types of Cancer
Being overweight or obese may increase the risk for certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, endometrial and gallbladder cancers.

Sense of Accomplishment
Losing weight is hard. About 60% of American adults and 30% of American children are overweight or obese. If it was easy everyone would be healthy. Losing weight and keeping it off takes a long term commitment. You have to make lifestyle changes you can stick with forever, or the weight will come right back on. So, when the weight comes off you should feel really good about yourself. You set a goal, and achieved it. What a wonderful feeling.

*Note: In case you were worried, I did get my chocolate fix in for today. I managed to resist the urge to visit the vending machine at work for a Hershey's bar. But, after dinner I made some heavenly (and pretty healthy) hot cocoa. Yummy! I find that after just a couple weeks of healthier eating, my sweet tooth has diminished. I was satisfied with much less sugar than I would usually use. So, I made it with:
-1.5 cups skim milk
-3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
-1.5 tablespoons sugar
-dash of salt
-splash of vanilla extract and peppermint extract

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Week 3 Weigh In

Prevent Yo-Yo Dieting by o5com, on Flickr

Previous Week's Weight =173 lbs
Today's Weight = 172.6 lbs
Lost This Week= 0.4 lbs
Total Lost = 7.4 lbs

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

I lost 0.4 lbs this week. Not a lot, but it's going in the right direction, so I'm happy. After losing 7 pounds in 2 weeks I was expecting my weight loss to slow down a bit. I got in 5 solid workout this week: 2 ballet classes, 2 tennis matches, and a swim.

As far as diet goes, I've been working hard to get 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day. I've been doing well with this, and I already notice the difference in how I feel. I have more energy, and just feel generally better, despite the fact that the rest of my diet isn't perfect. My only problem is that I find myself thinking about food frequently. I have been counting calories and getting ~2,000 calories a day, so I think I'm getting plenty to eat. But, I spend so much time thinking about eating. I'm hoping this will go away as I get used to my new eating habits and settle into a routing. Has this happened to you? Any tips?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What to Drink During Exercise

What should you drink during exercise? Water. Simple. Cheap. Easy. Effective. An interesting feature was published today in BMJ today: The truth about sports drinks. It discusses the complete lack of well-controlled studies demonstrating the dangers of dehydration, or the benefits of sports drinks. The majority of existing studies were financed by the companies that manufacturer sports drinks, or by scientist who have financial ties to the industry. Does that sound dubious to you?
"So how did the importance of hydration gain traction? An investigation by the BMJ has found that companies have sponsored scientists, who have gone on to develop a whole area of science dedicated to hydration."
The Basics:
  • For weight loss sports drinks are especially bad. The almost universal advice is to cut out sugary beverages when trying to lose weight. Goodbye Gatorade! Sports drinks are generally little more than artificially colored sugar water.
  • Drink water when you feel thirsty. The body has a thirst mechanism to protect from dehydration. As long as thirst signals aren't ignored dehydration is not a health problem (see this for more info). No expensive sports drinks needed.
  • Hyponatraemia (drop in serum sodium due to increased fluid intake) is a bigger concern than dehydration in intense exercise and can be fatal.
  • If there is any need for sports drinks it is in serious athletes (most people don't fall into this category). During very long intense workout (4+ hours) if water doesn't seem sufficient some sugar and salt my be beneficial. Instead of a sports drink just add a splash of juice and a pinch of salt to your water.
"Far from sports drinks turning casual runners into Olympic athletes, Noakes suggests: “If they avoided the sports drink they would get thinner and run faster.”"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Healthy Tuna Melt

The end result. So tasty!

I'm always looking for ways to sneak more multicolored veggies into my meals. And, I love tuna. This healthy bell pepper tuna melt is perfect! Low in calories, a lot of veggies, and tastes great too! Adapted from Snack Girl.

5oz can tuna, water-packed, drained
1 tablespoon light mayo
1 sweet pickle, chopped (you can leave this out if you don't like pickles in your tuna...but trust me it's good)
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 baby carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 red bell pepper
2 tablespoons sharp cheddar (shredded)
salt and pepper (to taste)

  1. Mix tuna, mayo, pickle, celery, carrots, onion in small bowl.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Slice bell pepper in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and core.
  4. Spoon tuna mix into bell peppers (split between 2 halves).
  5. Top with 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar per pepper half
  6. Broil on high for ~5 minutes.
  7. Enjoy! These are fabulous!

One serving is the whole batch. So, only 322
calories for the whole thing. Yummy!

Keeping up to keep weight off

An interesting article about long term weigh loss was in the Chicago Tribune the other day: Keeping up to keep weight off. It discusses how hard it is to keep weight off in the long term, and how important it is to exercise and eat thoughtfully.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

High Protein? High Carb? Magic?

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a JAMA study that questioned the notion that a calorie is a calorie. The New York Times recently published an interview with physician, and obesity expert Dr. Jules Hirsch: In Dieting, Magic Isn’t a Substitute for Science. It's an interesting read, and gives his perspective on the results of the study, and what it means for people trying to lose and maintain weight loss.

Dr. Hirsch maintains that for weight loss- a calorie is a calorie, although some diets may be better than others for health. He believes that the increased weight loss on the Atkins type diets is due to water weight only (not fat lost). Sounds good to me. I can continue to eat copious amounts of carbs guilt free.

Maple Bacon Doughnut at Voodoo Doughnuts by Ethan Prater, on Flickr
If "a calorie is a calorie" fat, protein and carbs are all allowed.
And, so are doughnuts with bacon (in moderation of course).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Week 2 Weigh In

Prevent Yo-Yo Dieting by o5com, on Flickr  

Previous Week's Weight =174.8 lbs
Today's Weight = 173 lbs
Lost This Week= 1.8 lbs
Total Lost = 7lbs

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Yes! I totally stayed on track this week, and lost 1.8 lbs. I couldn't be happier. I dutifully logged my calorie intake and exercise all week. I stayed under 2,000 calories a day, and got in 5 days of good exercise this week (3 tennis matches, 1 zumba class, and 1 ballet class).

I've really been trying to figure out how to drop the weight by making healthy changes that I can keep up for life (so the weight doesn't creep back on). I think I'm doing OK with this. I'm doing exercise I really enjoy, and not denying myself an occasional treat (perhaps more than occasional). This week's junk food indulgences included a trip to dairy queen, a doughnut, Buffalo wild wings, and a bit more chocolate than planned (dark chocolate...it could have been worse). I did watch my portions on these, ate less than I would have a few weeks ago, and logged the calories consumed. I didn't feel deprived, and I think I can keep at it like this forever...we'll see.

Now I'm headed into week 3. I think some of the novelty and the excitement from my initial success is wearing off, but I'm hoping I can stay on track. What are your best tips for keeping motivated?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Curried Spinach and Chickpeas

Today I thought I'd share one of my favorite recipes with you. I made this for dinner last night. It's super healthy and tastes great! It is good as a side dish or as a meal all by itself. It goes well with chicken or shrimp. Yum! Adapted from the Sparrow. Enjoy!


1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 large onion (chopped)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons curry powder (or to taste)
1 cup chicken stock

15oz can chickpeas (rinse and drain)
16 oz frozen spinach (thawed)

  1. Saute onions in olive oil.
  2. Stir in honey and curry powder.
  3. Add chicken stock, chick peas and spinach.
  4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weight Training for Weight Loss

I've never done much weight training. But, the more I read about it, the more convinced I become that is it crucial for healthy fat loss. So, I just signed up for a month long, twice weekly, introductory women's weight training program at the gym. It doesn't start for a month, but I'm super excited about it. So, today I bring you reasons why weight training is important for weight loss.
angie by greg westfall., on Flickr
Maintain Muscle Mass
Obviously, as I lose weight I want to be burning fat (not muscle). When the body is in a caloric deficit (while trying to lose weight) it is looking for fuel. And, it gets this by oxidizing fat (ideally), using glycogen, or catabolizing muscle (bad news). The best way to keep from catabolizing muscles is to use them (and to lose weight slowly). This is where weight training comes in. A good weight training plan will use all the major muscle groups help to prevent their catabolism.

Increase Resting Metabolic Rate
Even better, weight lifting has been shown to increase the resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the amount of energy expended at rest and accounts for about 70% of calories burned daily. In other words weight training will increase the number of calories you burn all day long, even when you are not doing anything. RMR usually decreases with weight loss, and this is part of why it is so hard to keep the weight off. Weight training will keep your RMR higher making it easier to lose weight and keep it off. Great!

Burn Calories
If that's not reason enough, weight lifting burns calories on it's own (in addition to the extra calories burned by increasing RMR). Sure, it doesn't burn as many calories as cardio. But, everything helps, and a couple hundred calories an hour is pretty good.

Fight Osteoporosis
OK, so this isn't really related to losing weight. But, it certainly seems like a good reason to me. Strength training can increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

I think that settles it. Strength training is great for weight loss. I'm looking forward to my weight training program to start next month. And, here's to hoping I'll soon be incredibly buff and toned.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Weight of the Nation

I just watched The Weight of the Nation. It's a fascinating 4-part series on the obesity epidemic: "Consequences", "Choices", "Children in Crisis", and "Challenges". It aired a couple months ago on HBO. If you missed it then (like I did), you can watch the entire thing online for free.

The film was produced in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It features interviews with public health experts, scientist and physicians. It also features case studies of families who are struggling with obesity. This film really illustrates the dangers of obesity, and the health problems that it causes.

In the last couple decades we have seen a rapid increase in the percent of the population that is overweight or obese. This is alarming from a health perspective, and will have far-reaching implications. This film looks at the causes of obesity and ways that we can change. It goes beyond the simple, eat less, and exercise more advice that everyone has heard. And, recognizes that this is a much deeper problem.

The film particularly focuses on overweight and obese children, who usually go on to be obese adults. It discusses the really harmful marketing of junk food to children. These ads are very effective in influencing the eating habits of children (and adults too), and getting them locked in on unhealthy habits at a very young age.

I found particularly interesting the role of government farming subsidies for corn and soy in the obesity epidemic. The film discusses the effect these subsidies have had in making high calorie, highly processed, fast food incredibly cheap compared to fresh fruits and vegetables. Really fascinating stuff.

Anyway, enough of my thoughts. Go check it out.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Weekly Weigh In

Previous Week's Weight =180
Today's Weight = 174.8
Pounds Lost = 5.2

Week one was a resounding success! I lost just over 5 pounds lost, much more than expected. I'm sure the weight loss will slow down in the coming weeks, but at least I know that what I'm doing is working. I logged my food all week, and stayed under 2,000 calories a day- perfect. And, I exercised 6 days this week: Three 1-2 mile swims, 3 tennis matches, plus some swimming/playing in the water on the 4th of July.

I'm going out to a pub for dinner and drinks tonight...I'll be putting my willpower to the test. I'm planning to enjoy myself, but make healthy choices so that I don't go over my calorie limit. Overall, I'm off to a good start, hopefully I can keep this up in the coming weeks. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July! by *clairity*, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  *clairity* 

I hope you all have a fabulous 4th of July! I'm headed to the lake for the day. It's scorching hot, so I'm ready for a day full of swimming. Great exercise, and a lot of fun! Can't beat that. I've a got a cooler full of healthy snacks ready to go. It's going to be a great day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chicken Stock Recipe

So, you made my fauxtisserie chicken (You did right? It's wonderful and easy.). What do you do with the chicken carcass? Make chicken stock of course. Like everything else I make it's super easy. And, you can use it to add flavor to many healthy dishes (like rice and lentil pilaf or curried spinach and chickpeas), without adding many calories.

  1. Chicken carcass (any pieces you won't eat)
  2. 1/2 to 1 cup celery
  3. 1/2 to 1 cup carrots
  4. 1 onion
  5. 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
  6. Herbs (optional)- These are not necessary. But, I like it with fresh parsley or 1tablespoon dried basil.
  1. You've just finished cooking fauxtisserie chicken.
  2. Remove the chicken and the foil balls from the crock pot (leave the juices in the pot).
  3. Carve the chicken, remove all the meat you will eat.
  4. Place the chicken carcass back in the crockpot (with the juices from cooking the chicken)
  5. Chop the celery, carrots and onion. Add to pot. This is just to add flavor, you will not be eating them. So, you can use the tops of the celery, the carrot peel, and the outer layer of onion if you want to save the good parts.
  6. Add vinegar
  7. Add any desired herbs
  8. Fill pot with water (I have a 5 quart crock pot)
  9. Cook on low for ~10 hours
  10. Strain to remove bones, and veggies.
  11. Refrigerate overnight. Skim fat off the top.
  12. Use in your favorite recipe, or freeze for later.
  13. Enjoy!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Magic Formula for Weight Loss

It's day three of my weight loss and fitness plan. I started the day with a healthy breakfast (good), brought a wonderful healthy lunch to work with me (good), played a great singles tennis match in absolutely sweltering heat for just under two hours (good, despite the heat), and went to Dairy Queen (not so good). But, I think this about sums up my weight loss plan. Moderation is key.

The number of different diet plans out there is astounding. And, while a few of them seem to be based on good science, and measurable results. Many of them make ridiculous claims and seem too good to be true. Lose 10 pounds in 3 days with the 3 day diet (note: I'm absolutely NOT endorsing this diet, and know next to nothing about it).The cookie diet anyone (note: I'm not endorsing this one either, although I do love cookies)? 

As much as I wish I could lose wight and stay healthy eating nothing but cookies...I'm skeptical. I needed to find a diet that would suit me and my lifestyle. And, most importantly, allow for healthy, sustained weight loss. No yo-yo dieting. So, I made a list of my criteria.

My 10 Healthy Weight Loss Program Criteria
  1. Based on real scientific evidence
  2. Delivers slow, steady, healthy weight gain
  3. Does not have any forbidden foods
  4. Allows me to eat real food (no slim fast shakes, meal replacement bars, or frozen delivered food)
  5. Sustainable in the long term (so I don't gain all the weight back immediately after finishing the diet)
  6. Allows occasional treats (I have no intention of going a year without dairy queen)
  7. Inexpensive (I'm a grad student...)
  8. Allows me to choose the exercise I enjoy
  9. Flexible, easy to follow, and not time intensive
  10. Allows me to eat a varied diet (the grapefruit diet is out...of course that's not the only reason it's out)
And, the winner is...nobody. I haven't found I diet I like. So, it was time to find a strategy that would work for me.
Prevent Yo-Yo Dieting by o5com, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  o5com 

To Lose 1 Pound
The real secret to weight loss lies in one simple formula.

3,500 calories = 1lb of fat

What does this mean? If you burn 3500 calories more than you eat you will lose 1lb of fat. A reduction of 500 calories a day will result in a 3500 calorie weekly deficit, or one pound lost each week.  Generally 1-2lbs a week is considered a healthy rate of weight loss.

Simple right? To lose weight I just need to eat fewer calories. How many? This is where the tools at fitday come in. This is a really useful site. You plug in your stats and it calculates how many calories you burn and how many you need to eat to meet your weight loss goals. For me- 2,000 calories/day will get me there in well under a year.

The tools on fitday allow me to easily log my food every day to make sure I'm staying on track. And, also to log exercise, and track the nutrition (I'm also not affiliated with fitday in any way, but their site is fabulous).

How much of my diet should come from protein? Fat? Carbohydrates? I think there are a wide range of healthy options here. I know that I feel less hungry when I get at least 20% protein (is that true for everyone...probably not). And, so I usually end up with 20-25% protein, 20-30% fat, and 55-60% carbohydrates. I think this works best for me. But, perhaps I will continue to play with these numbers.

Obviously, it's important to ensure that I'm getting enough of the required vitamins and minerals. But, rather than spend hours agonizing over the amount of each nutrient I'm getting every day, I'm taking a simpler approach. These are my three steps to ensure adequate nutrition:

  1. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day including at least three different colors. Why? The different colored produce contains different phytochemicals. To learn more about this go here.
  2. Eat whole grains instead of refined when possible (i.e.whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice).
  3. Limit overly processed foods with added sugars and fats.
When I follow these 3 criteria I find that I meet my recommended daily intakes of most nutrients, without having to spend much time thinking about it. It's easy. And, that is exactly what I want.

I'm not planning to change much as far as exercise is concerned. I'm already pretty active. I've made several attempts over the years to start running (because it seems like an excellent to burn calories). These attempts have lasted for a few short weeks or months, and then I give up. Why? Because I hate running (I know a lot of people love it...that's great).  After doing this a few times, I finally came to the realization that the best exercise is the one I love to do because I will be motivated to work out regularly. For me, this is not running. But, I do love to swim, take ballet classes, and play tennis, and manage to get these activities in every week. I also occasionally bike, hike, take zumba, along with other random activities.

My goal for exercise is to keep doing what I'm doing and make sure I get in dedicated exercise at least 4 days a week. I'm also making an effort to throw in a bit more activity in my day (every bit counts). So, I'll be taking the stairs (I work on the 3rd floor, so the elevator is pure laziness), doing push-ups or jumping jacks during commercial breaks, and looking for excuses to add more movement to my day.

My Plan
For those of you that didn't want to read all that (and I don't blame you). Here's the short version of my weight loss plan.
  1. Log my food and exercise daily
  2. Eat less than 2,000 calories per day
  3. Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day
  4. Aim for at least 20% of calories from protein
  5. Limit processed foods
  6. Exercise at least 4 times per week
  7. Take the stairs
  8. Use commercial breaks for quick exercise
OK. I have a plan. Stay tuned for my weekly weigh ins to see how it goes. Here we go!