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Friday, July 5, 2013

Lose weight sensibly and easily

Is there really an easy way to lose weight? Probably not, depending on your personal situation. I tried for a long time to lose weight and I tried a lot of different diets – nothing seemed to work. Was there something else wrong with me besides the CHF? Maybe... I don't know.

I do know that even before I gained that 25 pound of water weight I was experiencing stomach cramps. So I had resorted to drinking water mixed with organic apple cider vinegar at least twice a day and eating very little food. My cramps went away, but then I gained all of that water weight. I have often wondered how I was able to take off 40 pounds in the hospital when I had only gained 25 just before going in – was it because there was something wrong with me and the vinegar helped? I'll never know.

Since then I've been following a low sodium, low carb diet and I've lost even more weight. So I know that this is working for me. I encourage everyone to try it because it's actually a very healthy way to eat – both the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association recommend eating this way.

Try to keep your sodium intake to under 2,000 mg a day (and under 1,500 if you are over 51, have high blood pressure or a heart condition) and try to keep your carb intake to 45 grams of carbs a meal, if you're a woman and 60 grams of carbs a meal, if you're a man. See what happens. Oh and by the way, whether you are a man or a woman you can have three 15 gram carb snacks per day too! So that's 180 carbs per day if you're a woman and 225 carbs a day if you're a man.

Want even better news? If you eat a lot of fiber (over 5 grams per meal) you can subtract that amount from your carb intake. So if you're a man and you ate a 70 carb meal, but there were 10 grams of fiber in the meal – you're still ok because that counts as 60 carbs. Now – keep in mind these are MAXIMUMS. If you are really serious, you should come close but not exceed these numbers. Typically my daily carb intake now is about 180 – 200 total AND I eat about 25 - 30 grams of fiber per day. So if you subtract the fiber from the carbs my typical total is between 150 – 175 carbs per day. As I've said before even though I have always eaten a pretty low sodium diet, carbs were my downfall – I don't know how many I had per day but it was a lot more than I'm eating now!

Get some exercise too. Ride a bike, ride a stationary bike, take a walk, walk the dog, clean the house, do yard work, stretch, go dancing, go hiking, go swimming, play shuffleboard, play table tennis, do something...  If you don't exercise now, work your way up slowly – do 10 minutes, 3 times a week, then add 5 minutes the next week, etc.  I do just over an hour of exercise a day, 35 minutes of exercise every morning - 15 minutes on a stationary bike, 10 minutes lifting dumbbells, and about 10 minutes stretching. Then every evening I take about a 30 minute walk with the dog. I was exercising about 1 ½ hours a day before I was allowed to go back to work – but as my life became less sedentary I cut back a bit on the exercising. You don't need to exercise as much as I do – the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week. That's not that hard to do!

Here are some other “smart” ideas to help you lose weight:
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store - that's where the produce, dairy and meat is - leave the rest alone
Cook your own meals – you can control salt, sugar and oil content
Cut food into smaller pieces and take smaller bites
Serve or plate your food in the kitchen – if you don't see it your more likely to eat less
Keep track of what you eat - write down what you eat or use a program, website or app like
Weigh yourself daily and at the same time every day.
Have one day a week to be your “official” weigh day, what you weigh on this day counts!

Eat ½ of your plate in fruits & vegetables
Eat ¼ of your plate in carbohydrates
Eat off of smaller plates – you will feel more full because you “cleaned your plate”
Eat slower! Americans eat too fast. Spend at least 20 minutes eating each meal
Eat natural, whole foods
Eat more whole grains – more fiber and more nutrients, while you also feel more full and eat less
Eat no more than 6-8 oz of protein per day
Drink plenty of water

Limit eating in restaurants – too much processed food, salt, sugar, carbs and fat
If you go to a buffet, sit with your back to the buffet, you will eat less
When eating in restaurants, don't eat the free food – bread, bread sticks, biscuits, tortilla chips
Sleep between 6 & 7 hours per night

Don't eat processed foods – too many chemicals, sugars, oils and salt
Don't eat low-fat foods – these foods have more sugar, salt and carbs to make up for the lost fat
Don't order combo meals – you will eat more than you need/want
Don't drink soda, including diet soda – soda has too much sugar and diet soda triggers appetite cues
Don't drink “fruity” drinks – most of the time it's not natural fruit juices, it's sugar, HFCS and thickeners
Don't shovel the food in, it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you've had enough
Don't watch T.V. while you are eating – you won't realize how much you've eaten and you will eat too much
Don't eat after 8 pm – you will be going to sleep, your stomach shouldn't be digesting food
Don't skip meals – skipping meals slows down your metabolism, puts your body in fat storage mode and makes you hungrier at your next meal
Don't eat in response to emotional stress – if you're feeling emotional or stressed out, have a piece of gum, drink a glass of water or take a walk

I hope this helps. I am amazed when I see people eating and snacking in this country. I was at the movie theater a couple of days ago and this young girl in front of me stuffed her face from before the movie started until it ended and it was all CRAP. Nachos with fake cheese, popcorn with fake butter and loaded with salt, soda, twizzlers, goobers, etc. If she only realized that she's killing herself slowly.... Ever go to a Chinese buffet and see the family that barely fits in the booth? Ever look at their plate? Have you counted how many times they fill up? It's just amazing. And the plate is not filled with veggies either, it's loaded with fried foods and noodle dishes.

So really maybe it is easy for some people to lose weight, just by eating more natural, low sodium, low carb foods and doing a little exercise.... For the rest of us it might be a little harder, but do your best, eat right and see where it gets you.

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