Updated: February 3, 2013 6:02AM
The New Year is finally here. During the holidays you probably indulged in turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and many other goodies. Now you’ve gained a few pounds in addition to the extra weight you may have already accumulated throughout the year. How can you make this the year to slim down and keep the weight off for good?
Researchers say losing just 5 percent to 10 percent of excess body weight can make a big difference in health, including lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk for diabetes. University of Maryland experts offer the following strategies to lead you on the way to long-term weight loss.
• Writing down what you eat forces you to be aware of just how much you’re eating. Also, if you know you have to write down that piece of candy or pizza, you may not be so quick to eat it. With your journal, you can also keep track of how much you exercise. If this doesn’t seem to work, you can review your food diary with a dietitian.
• Check with your doctor to see if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Calculate your body mass index. This measurement can help you figure out how much you need to lose.
• Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in sugars. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, this will also reduce your risk of heart attack and certain types of cancer.
• Eat smaller meals rather than a few big ones. “The human body needs food about every three hours,” says Pamela Peeke, assistant clinical professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and author of the national best-seller “Fight Fat After Forty.” She recommends snacks that include a high-quality protein and carbohydrates, such as low-fat yogurt and fruit, a smoothie, or soy cheese and a pear. Other suggestions for snacks include graham crackers, low-fat popcorn, vegetables with low-fat dip, and whole-grain crackers.
• Count calories, then cut them. Determine how many calories you eat in a typical day. Next, set your new reduced calorie goal. Experts recommend you lose no more than a pound or two a week. To lose about ½ pound per week, subtract 250 calories a day from your current calorie intake; to lose 1 pound, subtract 500. A reduction of 500-1,000 calories could result in weight loss of about 1-2 pounds per week. Total calories, though, should not dip below 1,200 per day for women and 1,400 for men.
• Exercise regularly doing something you enjoy. In order to burn more than you take in, you need to exercise. This will increase your metabolism so even when you’re at rest, you’ll be burning more calories. Experts advise regular aerobic physical activity for at least 20-30 minutes a day, three to five times a week. Walking may be a good choice. Buy a pedometer and keep track of the number of steps you take each day. Once you see how much you walk, try adding 1,000 steps each day, with an eventual goal of 10,000 steps or more.