Your countdown to a summer body Posted on 14 Jun 00:00 , 0 comments
If you’ve sailed through this past year in great shape consider yourself lucky. The rest of us will reluctantly shed our winter clothes and assess the damage. The lack of daylight hours in winter lowers our feel good hormones serotonin and melatonin. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is usually characterized by winter depression. Some scientists blame it on falling Vitamin D levels, some on our pre-programmed survival genes. If you’ve gained a few kilos, you are not alone. Over winter, cravings for carbohydrates and rich desserts replace salads and fresh fruit, probably to offset our reduced levels of serotonin. The extra fat may protect us from the cold, but with summer on the doorstep some of us will have a few kilos of ugly fat to deal with.
The right way to lose weight.
Even though we know that diets don’t work, we can be easily tempted to try the latest diet or supplement. Try not to be fooled by the words easy, effortless or fast. Steer clear of diet pills, creams or patches that offer quick weight loss with out exercise or dietary changes. Some of the products will claim to reduce your appetite so that you will consume less food. In my experience most people gain weight eating when they are not hungry. Quite probably the only thing that will lose weight when you buy fad weight-loss products will be your wallet.
Fat is stored on our body like a reserve tank for energy. Every gram of fat stored contains 9 calories. Energy in food has been traditionally measured in calories. More recently the units of energy have been referred to as kilojoules. There are 4.18 kilojoules in 1 calorie, so if you are reading a label and want to know how many calories per serve the product has, divide the kilojoules per serve by 4. To burn fat you need to release these calories from your storage tank and use them as fuel. The best way to do this is to burn a few more calories per day through exercise or activity and consume less calories each day.
Unless you are an athlete, your body requires between 1600 – 2300 calories per day to maintain your current weight. A simple reduction of 300-500 calories of food per day as well as 20-60 minutes of extra activity will give you a weekly fat loss of between 500g – 1 kilo per week. The recommended daily calorie intake per day varies from person to person. How much energy you require depends on your age, your height, your body composition, your level of daily activity and your lifestyle. The word ‘energy’ in relation to calories or kilojoules is not meant to describe zest and vitality, merely the measure of fuel provided to the body. Although we need energy to function, a diet too high in energy will promote weight gain. Don’t take your calories too low. It’s important not to eat too little when you are losing weight. Your body will perceive a famine when faced with a shortage of calories or nutrients, leading to a decrease in fat burning and an increase in appetite.
Start a Food Diary
A good way to re-learn healthy eating is to keep a food diary for a week or two. Most of us are surprised when we look at what we really eat and drink, as opposed to what we think we eat. It is easy to forget about the extra helping we had for dinner, the large latte we had for morning tea or the wine we drank at dinner.
Drink More Water
Researchers from the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Science conducted a 12-week study to demonstrate water’s ability to promote weight loss. Professor Brenda Davey found that dieters who drank two glasses of water before meals consumed up to 90 fewer calories during each meal and lost more weight that dieters who did not increase their water intake. Water will also keep your body systems, including metabolism and digestion working properly and give you the energy necessary for exercise.
Keep tabs on your alcohol
When your goal is to lose weight, calories count and two big glasses of wine could add up to 400 extra calories. If your body doesn’t use these calories in the evening they will be converted to fat. Use smaller wine glasses and drink less often. Try to half your normal intake. Sometimes just being aware of how much or how often you are drinking is enough to bring about a positive change.
A well balanced diet, high in plant food and low in refined sugars will have you well on the way to long lasting health. Behaviour modification including stress management and physical activity will result in improved health and energy. Now is a great time to take action, start now and start slow. It has to be enjoyable to be sustainable.
Good nutrition is emerging as a key strategy for stress management and according to a worldwide survey the highest degree of stress is felt by women who are working full time and have children under the age of 13.