By Sheryl Kraft
Every Monday morning, I dread stepping onto the scale. I beckon the willpower that went MIA over the weekend to return to me - and it usually does. And then? I'm jolted back into reality by those numbers. Time to remember this: now that I'm past menopause, I have to realize I can't eat with abandon without paying the price. And the price is usually a couple of pounds.
Weekends are wonderful for relaxing, yes. But what happens is that it's easy to get a bit too relaxed and throw caution to the wind when it comes to your eating habits. (A girl's gotta have some fun, right?) Even if I don't think I'm eating that much more than normal, the scale tells me the truth. I swear, lately I can put on weight just by THINKING about food.
Weight gain by osmosis.
I don't know about you, but as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that if I want to maintain my weight I have to find new ways to do it. (I deplore the word "diet" and would much rather say I'm making lifestyle changes than dieting. My philosophy? You're either on – or off – a diet, which leaves very little choice in between).
Here are some helpful tips I've learned to lose some weight and stave off hunger. Some I've found through research. Others have come through my own personal experience. Isn't the wisdom you gain by growing older a wonderful thing?
- Eat around the clock. Some people might believe in 3 square meals a day. When I've done that (usually when I travel), I always avoid weight gain. But when I'm home, it's just not part of my schedule. A healthy snack, both mid-morning and mid-afternoon, keeps me from getting so hungry that I attack the food come lunch and dinner. Good bet: nuts. A new study has found that eating two handfuls a day (approximately 1/3-cup) is heart-smart by lowering blood cholesterol levels. And because they're packed with fiber and protein, they help keep energy levels up and hunger at bay.
- Keep a food diary. No, I don't do this – it's just not in my DNA to keep a diary - but I know people who do, and they swear by it. Studies do prove that dieters (there's that word again!) who record their meals and snacks lose more weight than non-diary keepers. (I guess the mental equivalent of keeping a food diary would be having a strong conscience and a long memory? If you can summon those, that works, too).
- Don't rush it. Eat slowly. When you race, you don't give yourself time to even know how much you've eaten or if you're full. (I've heard that Japanese people stop eating when they're ¾-full. In all actuality, they're probably 100 percent full; they're mind just needs time to catch up with their bodies). Research shows that eating slowly gives your body more time to produce key hormones that control your appetite. Personally, food tastes better when I eat slowly… it actually gives me time to enjoy what I'm doing. Another bonus? Your tummy will thank you for easing its work; you'll get better digestion.
- Make friends with your scale. Okay, I know this is a tough one. In fact, for years, I refused to rely on the scale (but then the weight started creeping up, unnoticed). I have a friend who only relies on how tight her pants are getting. But it's proven that people who weight themselves more often lost more weight and prevented more weight gain over two years than those who weighed themselves less frequently.
- Turn it off. When you listen to music or watch TV – or even read - while you eat, it's likely you'll linger longer at the table, and continue to eat. That's why a lot of experts favor "mindful eating:" That's all about savoring each and every bite without any distractions; when we pay attention to our food, we become aware of its taste, its texture and how much of it we are actually eating.
This Matters> Weight maintenance, or loss for that matter, is not a one-size-fits-all deal. Far from it. What works for one may not work for you - or even backfire. Everybody is different; everybody has their own threshold for how they're willing to live and how they want to look.
For more on this subject, click here.
Trouble setting goals? This can help.