Slow and steady the best way to lose weight

By Sally Anderson
Tampa Bay Times
Posted11/11/2012 5:45 AM
  • Effective weight loss takes time, experts say.

    Effective weight loss takes time, experts say.

  • A bowl of soup before a meal will help you feel full and eat less.

    A bowl of soup before a meal will help you feel full and eat less.

  • Eating fruit and exercising every day are part of the plan for effective weight loss.

    Eating fruit and exercising every day are part of the plan for effective weight loss.

  • A side lunge


  • A knee lift


  • A sitting arm stretch

    A sitting arm stretch SHNS PHOTO/TAMPA BAY TIMES

  • A front lunge


Small changes can make a difference! We know that one must burn approximately 3,500 calories to lose one little pound of fat.

Such a daunting task makes it tempting for people interested in losing weight quickly to take on rapid short-term diets.

The immediate problem with that is this: What happens after you go off the diet? The weight tends to return, and quick weight-loss suggestions are most likely not helping you to lose much fat, but rather to lose water weight or lean muscle tissue, the driving force behind burning those calories, which you do not want to lose.

Continuing to lose weight too quickly on very low-calorie diets can place negative demands on your body and put you at risk for developing dehydration issues, gallstones, malnutrition and electrolyte imbalances. There are even other, maybe not so serious but very uncomfortable side effects, such as irritability, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. The secret to real weight loss is taking small but lasting steps.

For the average person desiring to lose weight, a loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is generally recommended. Slow and steady wins the race!

Baby steps

Avoid hunger pains: Do not let yourself become too hungry; it encourages you to overeat later in the day. Eating several healthy snacks a day will stave off food craving. Greek-style yogurt is a good snack that is very low in sugar. Did you know that the act of digesting foods accounts for approximately 10 percent of your calories being burned daily?

Watch what you drink: Keeping yourself well hydrated (eight glasses of water daily) is not only essential for your well-being, but will also help you feel less hungry. Work your way toward fat-free milk and avoid high-calorie coffees and sugary drinks.

Mustard for mayo: One tablespoon of mayonnaise adds about 100 calories and 10 grams of fat, while 1 tablespoon of mustard has 10 to 20 calories. Might want to try the hot spicy kind.

Nuts instead of chips: Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts and almost all other nuts are high in protein, healthy fats, fiber and nutritional calories that help curb cravings. Without good nutrition, we lose energy, and that's when cravings set in. We often crave sugar or junk food to regain the lost energy.

An apple a day: The USDA recommends two to four servings of fruit per day; for women concerned with weight issues, it is recommended to have two servings of fruit a day, and for men, it is suggested to have three servings per day.

Eat your vegetables: The recommended amount is three to five servings a day.

A salad a day: A perfect diet meal because of its low calories and high water and fiber content. Load up on colorful veggies, fruit, some nuts and light protein, but go easy on the dressings. Adding your favorite beans is a low-calorie, high-fiber way of ensuring good nutrition. Beans also offer protein, which builds your energy needs to keep you movin'.

A cup of soup: Broth-based soups like minestrone before a meal will help you feel full and eat less. Say no to cream-based soups, usually high in calories and fat.

Move more: Standing burns more calories than sitting, and sitting burns more calories than lying down. Instead of sitting, walk around while talking on the phone; stand while folding clothes; stretch during commercial and computer breaks; walk outside five or 10 minutes, gradually increasing a little each day, until you reach 30-minute walks; buy a pedometer, which might help to motivate you when you actually notice how many steps you have taken; do yard work; keep walking or running shoes in your car for an occasional surprise walk or run, and place a set of hand weights by the television to use while watching TV. If your home has stairs, consider yourself fortunate and take many trips up and down them.


Front lunge/knee lift: Step forward with left foot, into a lunge position, with back heel lifted off floor. Keeping back straight, lower hips until front thigh is near parallel to floor, keeping knees behind toes.

Knee lift: Return to standing, bringing right knee to hip level. Tip, contract abdominals and focus straight ahead to maintain balance. Reverse lunge: Step back into a lunge position, using same form as front lunge. This lunge is preferred for people with knee issues.

Side lunge: Standing tall, feet together, step out to the left side, bending left knee while stretching out opposite leg, keeping right leg straight. Push off with left leg to return to standing.

Sitting arm reach: A stretch for back, hamstrings, buttocks and calf muscles. Sitting on floor, extend legs in front of you, flexing feet (toes up), placing one heel over toes of other foot. Sitting tall with arms stretched overhead, reach forward to ankles or toes, keeping abs contracted to prevent sagging of back.

If you are 50 or older and have not been exercising, check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

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