Monday, January 11, 2010

Losing weight

It's that time of year when everywhere you look people are talking about going to the gym, going on a diet, and losing weight. Let me make it easy for you.

Exercise can make you stronger, more athletic, and healthier. All noble goals. But exercise, aside from extreme, constant exercise, has almost nothing to do with weight loss. Anyone who has run on a treadmill watching the calorie counter knows how depressingly long it takes to burn a few hundred calories. And you'd probably know by now if you were the kind of person who was going to regularly, vigorously exercise.

If you want to be thinner than your genetic destiny, i,e, mom, dad, and the grandparents, then you need to start eating less calories. Many diets are more or less based on that philosophy, although they complicate it with formulas and points and diaries and other tricks designed to separate you from your money.

You don't need any of that nonsense. Yes, it's a good idea to educate yourself about calories (milkshakes can easily fill you with 1500 calories), but it's tedious and difficult to really keep track. Especially when companies lie about the calories in their products.

No. It's easy to know if you're taking in fewer calories - - you'll feel a little hungry, pretty much all the time aside from when you're eating. That's it. That's the secret to being thinner than your DNA want you to be.

Of course, it's hard to resist food. So here's a few tips (aside from smoking, hard drugs, bulimia, Photoshop, and other techniques used by the famous).

1. Don't eat out of boredom.
2. Don't eat because it would be a shame to let that food go to waste. (Brutally difficult if you have young kids.)
3. Want something sweet to end your meal? Have a diet soda.
4. Eat slow. Chew your food and enjoy it. If you eat too fast, you'll miss out on your body's signal that it's full.
5. Mix healthy, filling items like salad or fruit with a small amount of whatever it is you actually want to eat - - order one slice of pizza and a salad, instead of two slices of pizza.
6. Stall. Try to talk yourself out of snacks, at least for a little while. If you delay each snack/meal for 20 minutes, then by the end of the day, you may have totally skipped a snack. Skip a week's worth of snacks, and that's easily 1400 calories saved.
7. Put small portions on your plate and force yourself to get up and go into another room for seconds. If you're at a restaurant, immediately divide portions into what you plan on eating at the meal.

In a nutshell, go find a hobby, keep yourself busy, and count every skipped bite a victory. You'd be amazed at how much weight you can lose in six months.

*I am in no way saying that being thin is the key to happiness, or that being super thin is desirable.
*Big Red Riding Hood courtesy of Dina Goldstein.