Wednesday, 03 May 2017 19:42

10 ways to enjoy losing weight

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The MyPlate Dashboard keeps you informed of how many calories, carbohydrates, and grams of protein and fat you have left to consume in order to reach your weight loss goals. The MyPlate Dashboard keeps you informed of how many calories, carbohydrates, and grams of protein and fat you have left to consume in order to reach your weight loss goals. Anthony Varriano screenshot

Most people think losing weight has to be a drag, but there is a way you can enjoy losing weight and keep it off. You don’t even have to commit an hour per day to exercising, which is another myth about losing weight. You don’t have to join a gym. You don’t have to leave your home. You can even lose weight at the office with some simple changes to your furniture and habits. So here’s how to enjoy losing weight and keep it off.

  1. Get in the Right Mindset

How to enjoy losing weight starts with the proper mindset, as do all things worth doing. You have to really want to lose weight. If you don’t really care to lose weight, you’re more likely to give up after a few weeks or be discouraged when the scale gives bad news. Understanding that sculpting a body comes with peaks and valleys will make losing weight more enjoyable. There will come a time when you “plateau,” and it will seem like you can’t lose anymore weight. The best thing you can do is prepare for the plateau. It’s going to happen. Accept it. If we all lost two pounds per week forever there’d be no weight left to lose eventually.  

Dr. Daliah Wachs says keeping before-and-after photos of yourself can provide motivation to continue pursuing your weight loss goals. She advises to keep the before photo in places you frequent, like the office, the bathroom mirror, in a gym bag or on the refrigerator.

  1. Get to Know your Body

It is imperative to know your body and what you’re putting in it if you’re going to enjoy losing weight. This is a great activity for the first week of your weight loss program. Download the free MyPlate app from Livestrong on your Apple or Android device and start logging everything you eat and drink for a week. This food diary is your first step to losing weight, because eating nutritious meals is more important than exercise. The free version of the MyPlate app logs your calories, carbs, fat, protein, sodium, cholesterol, dietary fiber and sugars, and it will set goals for each given your current weight, height, gender, daily activity and weight loss goals. I’m five-foot, 10-inches, around 185 pounds and a moderately active male looking to lose 1.5 pounds per day.

You’ll immediately notice your problem areas, and if you’re in tune with what you eat currently, you probably already know. I knew my problem was empty carbs. I enjoy craft beers and Animal Crackers dipped in tea, so getting six-pack abs for the first time will obviously require giving up six-packs of microbrews. (I’ll never give up my Animal Crackers. In fact, I’ve given up bread because I’m poor and eat a lot of pasta.) But by monitoring my food intake (I refuse to call it a diet, because it’s not) I know exactly what I should consume throughout the day.

For instance, given my age, height, weight, gender and goals, the MyPlate app sets my daily calorie goal at 1,725 calories and my carbohydrate goal at 173 grams. I was around my calorie goal yesterday (1,783 calories) but way over my carbohydrate goal (248 g). My protein intake was also well below the recommended level of 129 grams per day, which means I’ll be picking up protein powder at GNC today and replacing my breakfast of cold pizza with a protein shake full of fruit. Protein shakes don’t have to be chalky and terrible, either. Here are some delicious recipes that will make you enjoy losing weight. (Hint: cottage cheese is key.)

The MyPlate app also links to the Health app on Apple devices and Google Fit on Android devices, so it will count your steps and calculate your calories burned. It also allows you to track your water consumption. Two-thirds of us don’t drink enough water, and it’s a key to losing weight Wachs informs.

“Drink a glass of water before you eat your meal. That works,” she said, adding later that eating the vegetables of your meal first, which are mostly water, also fulfills your appetite while providing proper nutrition. Wachs thinks this a great tactic to keep kids healthy, too.

  1. Dedicate Yourself to Your Body

While I’m trying to help you enjoy losing weight, there is a lot of dedication involved in achieving your weight loss goals. Your body is the only thing you take to the grave, so you should be dedicated to it. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.

You must continue logging every food you eat, every drink you drink and every rep of exercise you complete. This is your body diary, and it is as important to your physical health as an actual diary is to your mental health. Once you stop logging that information on paper or in the MyPlate app, you’re starting to accept your body as it is. Don’t do that. Every time you don’t want to log a meal or even a beverage, just think of your weight loss goals. Envision your body as you’d like to see it, and pick up your phone or notebook and log that meal or drink. Speaking of drinking...

  1. If You Take a Drink, Drink Liquor

I told you that you’d enjoy losing weight. Even light beers don’t come close to beating the caloric content of most liquors, and the carbs are killers. Jose Cuervo tequila consists of just 96 calories per shot and has no carbohydrates. While Miller Lite also has 96 calories, you have to drink three of them to get the same effect as the shot of tequila. Every 12 ounces of Miller Lite comes with 3.2 grams of carbs, too. If you’re into microbrews like me, giving those up sounds difficult and certainly not enjoyable, but I assure you, you’ll not only shed pounds drinking liquor, you’ll save money, too.

If you’re a whiskey drinker like me, Crown Royal Special Reserve has just 96 calories per serving, as does Pendleton. Most gins and vodkas will also have 96 calories or so. Rum and bourbon will have a few more calories, but are still better for you than beer despite having trace carbs. I suggest you drink all liquor straight, on the rocks or with 100-percent juice. Soda, even diet soda, provides no nutritional value whatsoever. It is literally empty calories and sugar and doesn’t even quench your thirst. That’s why I’ve mostly given it up since 2004, but I’m committed to never letting soda touch another ounce of alcohol for the rest of my life.

  1. Exercise at Work

When your coworkers go out for a 15-minute smoke break, that doesn’t mean you have to keep working. (Oh yeah, if you want to look good quit smoking. It’ll make exercising easier.) While just nine states require rest breaks by law, the 15-minute smoke break happens almost everywhere. Most employers understand that their employees will be more productive if they get away from their desk or work space every few hours.

The best thing about the MyPlate app is that it provides exercises you can do at home, at the office or in the gym, with videos of proper form and even a timer and voice letting you know when to start and stop each exercise.

I did MyPlate’s seven-minute, cardio sculpting workout for the first time, and I can tell you it works. Not only is my body telling me what muscles I haven’t been using enough, but the app says I likely burned 235 calories in just seven minutes.

If you don’t have enough room at work to do the MyPlate exercises, there are still a couple of ways you can burn calories. The simplest thing you can do, whether you sit or stand all day, is work your core muscles. It’s as easy as crunching up your abs and breathing deeply.

Replacing your desk chair with a stability ball makes your entire day a core workout that can burn up to 350 calories. The Varidesk is also a nice contraption because sitting all day is still not good for you, regardless of your seat. The more you can get up and move around during your workday the better, and the more you’ll enjoy your work, too.

  1. Exercise at Home

One of the reasons people don’t enjoy losing weight is the daily trip to the gym, where they’re judged by those around them or, if you’re a woman, hit on incessantly by bros and former frat boys. The internet has totally changed the way people workout, though. More and more fat-burning exercises can be streamed to your television, computer, tablet or phone, either for free or for a nominal fee.

  1. Get Paid to Lose Weight

You can even get paid to meet your fitness goals! Pact pays those who meet their weight loss goals with the money of those who don’t, and HealthWage allows you and a team to collectively work toward weight loss goals. I told you that you could enjoy losing weight. Now you can enjoy the money that comes along with it!

  1. Do More of the Physical Activities You Already Love

I catch just about every home Minnesota Twins game, and I take public transit to get there and do at least one lap around Target Field while I’m there (150 calories burned). If I go out for trivia or a freeroll poker tournament near my home, I ride my bike (650 calories burned per hour). I’m surrounded by lakes in the land of 10,000 lakes, which works out great for me because I love to swim (around 585 calories burned per hour swimming breaststroke, depending on weight). There’s a yoga studio by my house I’m considering joining (between 135 and 550 calories burned per hour plus improved flexibility).

  1. Eat More Lean Meats

Lean meats and seafood have just 45 calories per ounce. Fish has significantly less saturated fat than other meats, though. The American Heart Association recommends you eat fish at least twice weekly, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, trout and herring.

Skinless chicken is also a great way to lower your fat and caloric consumption while keeping protein levels up, so chicken wings are perfectly okay to eat on football Sundays as long as they’re eaten in moderation and prepared without a bunch of hydrogenated oils or butter.

I’m not advocating you stop eating red meat. I could never do it myself, but you should find the leanest cut of beef, pork or lamb available and prepare it without adding oils, butter or salt. In fact, 75 percent of the sodium you consume is already in processed foods or from restaurants. You shouldn’t be adding salt to anything. Most foods come with more than enough salt as it is.

  1. Eat More Salad

Eating salad might not sound enjoyable, but I assure you, a good salad can be a great way to enjoy losing weight. You can’t tell me poached salmon and watercress salad with dill-yogurt dressing doesn’t sound delicious, or that shrimp with feta, radish, watercress and mint salad wouldn’t be delightful. Grilled panzanella with arugula, burrata, summer squash and olives makes me want to eat bread again, and I might make Moroccan lamb salad with carrots and mint when I get off work.

So there’s 10 ways to enjoy losing weight, and hopefully, you enjoy it so much the weight stays off. I’ll be checking in to update you on my pursuit of six-pack abs in the future.

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