LIFESTYLE CHANGES

There are three main elements to getting healthy; nutrition, exercise and rest, but the biggest hurdle to overcome is our minds.   Mental attitude towards healthy living is the first item we need to address.  If you're here you've probably decided to make some changes and get healthy, or healthier.  Unless you make a commitment to healthy living every day for the rest of your life you may struggle to reach your goal.  So here's the first item.  Are you willing to keep track of everything that you eat everyday for the rest of your life?  Are you willing to exercise for twenty to thirty minutes every day for the rest of your life?  To make this work you need to say yes to both questions.  Fortunately there are mechanisms already in place to help you along.

Sparkpeople.com is one of several web social groups focused on health and fitness. It's free, check it out, there are so many groups there with people all over the globe with the same problems and desires.   Form or join an accountability group, meet at least weekly and discuss where you succeeded and failed. Hold each other accountable to both nutrition and exercise.

One of the first things we all need to do is set long and short term goals, and be specific.  Set a target weight, expect to lose one to two pounds a week and go from there.  Do things in small stages, six to twelve week cycles work well.  So if your target to lose is forty pounds, expect eight to nine months. We break that into three twelve week sections and the target is 13 pounds in 12 weeks.  Can you do that?

Take pictures.  I think this is extremely important.  You take a picture today and make a commitment that I will never look like this again.  Find an image of what you want to look like.  There are several sites on-line with picture height weight charts.   Every four to six weeks take another picture.

The dreaded scale.  Some weight loss plans advocate daily weight checks, I think this is ridiculous.  I know for myself my weight can vary a pound from day to day.  What did I eat yesterday, am I holding a little more water?  Too many factors, a single glass of water is half a pound.  My suggestion is every two weeks.  You need to build a level of trust in what you are doing, constant weight checks is not trust.  At the same time on the same day of the week check your weight.  As long as you are watching nutrition, getting rest and exercise, there will be a change.

Nutrition. There are essentially three nutrients that we want to focus on, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The recommended ratios range from; 45% to 65% of calories eaten should come from carbohydrates. 20% to 35% of calories eaten should come from fat. 10% to 35% of calories eaten should come from protein.  For me a ratio of 40-30-30 works well. Sparkpeople recommends beginning with 50-30-20.

So how to set a starting point? Calculate by what you want to weigh 12 weeks from today, don't try to lose more than 20 pounds in 12 weeks though.  Multiply that by 11 and you have your target calories.  Now calculate ratios from there.  Example; if my target weight in 12 weeks is 200 pounds, 200 x 11 =2200 daily calories. 50%=1100, 30%=660, 20%-440.  Carbohydrates and proteins both have about four calories per gram, fats about nine so my targets are 1100/4=275 grams carbohydrates, 660/9=73 grams fats, 440/4=110 grams protein.

Record progress.  This is so important.  Keep track every day of what you eat and what exercise is done.  This is the only way to track progress.  When I first started we didn't have smart phones or tablets, I carried a steno pad everywhere and kept notes.  Now we can do it on our Androids.  Make adjustments after each weigh in.  As long as you are losing an average of 1 pound a week, keep going. If you do two weigh-ins in a row with no change then you need to make adjustments.  Go down to 10 calories per pound.  It took a long time to get where you are now, it will take a while to get to where you want to be.

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