July 24, 2000 -- For people who are overweight or obese, one of the biggest
obstacles to losing weight may be the notion that it's an all-or-nothing
struggle requiring drastic changes to achieve any real health benefit. After
all, why bother losing just a pound or two?
"People who are overweight and lose as little as one or two pounds a
year dramatically decrease their risk of developing hypertension and
diabetes," says Lynn Moore, DSc, an epidemiologist and assistant professor
of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.
Do you insist on rising at five to run each morning, even when your back is
aching, black ice coats the streets, and your wife beseeches you to stay in
bed? Do you only feel good when you’re training for triathlons? Is eating
merely a way to replenish for the next race? Then you, my Spandex-clad friend,
may have an exercise addiction.
So what's the best way to get started? Here are 10 simple steps to get you
in shape -- and help you look and feel better to boot.
1. Eat breakfast. When you skip it, your chances of overeating at lunch
increase as much as 50%, according to a study published in the September 1990
issue of the International Journal of Obesity. If time is an issue, a
cup of low-fat yogurt topped with low-fat granola and banana slices takes just
a minute to prepare.
2. Gradually switch from whole milk to skim. You won't miss it, and you'll
consume a whopping 70 fewer calories per cup. By drinking skim milk, you'll
spare your heart 5 grams of saturated fat (the kind your heart doesn't like)
per 8-ounce serving of whole milk.
3. Find physical activities you enjoy. You don't have to pump iron at the
gym or run marathons. Do whatever you enjoy, whether it's taking long walks,
gardening, or playing Frisbee. If you begin a new exercise program and are not
accustomed to physical exercise, or if you have health problems, check with
your doctor before starting.
4. Sneak exercise in throughout the day. Taking the stairs to your office
instead of the elevator can burn a lot of calories if you do it daily. So can
walking, rather than driving, to a store that's 10 minutes away.
5. Lay off the fast food. Most of it is extremely high in fat and calories.
When you do give in to the craving for a cheeseburger or other fatty treat,
order it kid-sized. Ordering large or "super" sizes can increase your
intake by hundreds of calories, many of them from fat.
6. Manage your stress. "Many of us use food to cope when we feel
anxious, unhappy, or bored," says Mindy Hermann, RD, a nutritionist and
Men's Health writer. Instead of eating when you're stressed, write in a
journal or talk with friends, family, or a therapist. Exercise may also
7. Break your "tired" cycle. Many of us don't work out because we're
too tired. But not getting enough exercise can actually make you feel less
energetic, according to John Foreyt, PhD, and G. Ken Goodrick, PhD, authors of
Living Without Dieting. As you get in the habit of exercising, your
energy is likely to increase.