By Laurel-Lea Shannon
If your winter fitness plans fizzled out this year, and instead of packing on extra muscle during the off-season you’ve added a few pounds of fat, don’t despair. There’s still time to tweak your diet and tune up your exercise program this spring.
Too many women make weight loss a chore. If you’re active and healthy, you can lose weight easily. Here are 8 tips to help:
1) Eat like your granny did. Take the time to prepare real food like your grandmother did. Processed food is full of fat, salt and unhealthy additives. It packs a wallop of calories and wimps out on nutritional value. Shop on the outside aisles of your grocery store. That’s where you’ll find real food—fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat, and poultry and fish. With a little planning, start-from-scratch meals are quick, easy and healthy.
2) Enough with the salad already. Women cling to the idea that making a meal out of rabbit food will help them lose weight, but salad is one of the worst choices for weight loss. You need a proper balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat to feel full and fuel your body, especially when you’re trying to knock off a few pounds. A large salad with chunks of cheese or slices of hard-boiled egg, or chicken all slathered in dressing, may look like a good low-carb option but look again. That light salad can weigh in with more calories than a meal of roast chicken, potatoes and vegetables—food that better meets your nutritional needs and fills up your tank so you won’t run out of gas before the next meal.
3) Eat smaller more frequent meals. Eating smaller more frequent meals keeps your blood sugar balanced, giving you more energy all day long. Eating 3 small balanced meals, each between 300-500 calories (depending how active you are), will allow you to burn calories as you need them throughout the day. Remember that when you eat too many calories at one meal, the calories you don’t burn off settle in as fat—on your hips, stomach or wherever you least want it.
4) Don’t skip meals. Many women try to lose weight by skipping meals—not a good move. If you skip a meal, by the time the next one rolls around you’ll be ravenous. This leads to overeating or bingeing.
5) Snack often. If you’re hungry between meals, eat a small nutritious snack, like a piece of fruit with plain yogurt (you can add a bit of honey), or a couple of whole wheat crackers with peanut or almond butter.
6) Identify your saboteurs. We all have them, those irksome calorie-packed cravings for sweets and junk food. Replace your nutritional saboteurs with healthy alternatives and you’ll lose weight and minimize your cravings.
7) Boost your exercise. Some experts say that anaerobic exercise (like interval training) is the best kind for weight loss because it builds muscle, which increases your metabolism, helping you to burn more calories throughout the day. Others say that aerobic exercise (long, slow rides at a low intensity) is a better choice because it burns more fat. Whichever one you choose, anaerobic or aerobic, the most important factor is to do more of it than you’re doing now—increasing incrementally.
8) Take small steps. Maintaining a healthy weight is really about taking care of yourself. You need to experiment, through trial and error, to find out which foods provide maximum nutrition and energy for your body, and what exercise makes you not only look your best but more important feel your best. Be patient. Take small steps. Don’t go for a quick-fix diet that may give you immediate, short-term results but have you gaining the pounds you lost right back. Instead, plan a weight and fitness blueprint that will nurture you and continue to work for you in the long-term.
If you want additional help with trimming down this spring, have a look at our e-book: Cycling for Weight Loss.