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Getting Started At Controlling Your Weight

We've looked at the charts, we know where we stand. It's time to get started and lose the weight and keep it off. It's time to take a healthy jump into our future. No one can tell us when that time to get started is. Yet, something triggers us to know when we're ready. Whether it's finding we have more jeans in our closet that we can't wear than we can wear, or we simply want to feel better about ourselves - getting started with weight control is finally within our reach.
Chances of success are improved by setting up a regimen compatible with your own lifestyle that will reach three goals:
  • Reduce your daily intake of calories and eat a healthier diet; including more whole grains, fruits, vegetables - all naturally low in fat. Learn the principles of portion control, but don't skip meals or deprive yourself.
  • Complete a moderate series of exercises each week.
  • Monitor your body fat on a regular basis.
Watching Calories and Nutrition
Most people have become aware that eating right will result in maintaining a healthier body and living longer. To lose weight - or more precisely, body fat - the USDA recommends that we lower our total daily caloric intake. Furthermore, it is recommended that no more than 30% of our calories come from fat, and less than 10% from saturated fat - which does the most damage to heart health. Also, your diet should limit the number of calories, regardless of where they come from (protein, carbohydrates, etc.) to what you actually need. All calories not used through the day are stored in the body as fat. You can ask your doctor, dietitian, or personal trainer to recommend a diet tailored for your particular lifestyle and food preferences.

Reading and understanding the nutritional labels that appear on nearly all packaged foods is the right place to start. Use the labels to help you choose what you buy. Use the labels to help you choose what you buy. And keep them in mind when you go out to eat - although more and more menus are showing some caloric and nutritional information. The nutritional facts on a label can include calories per serving and are further separated into categories such as total fat and saturated fat. Choose foods that are moderate in calories, low in fat and high in fiber.

Taking the time to include a variety of healthy components in each meal in moderate size servings, pays off by keeping you from getting bored (sometimes a problem with eating healthy). The shelves of your local bookstore abound with cookbooks on choosing and preparing good-tasting and healthy meals, as does the food section of your newspaper and most lifestyle magazines. Taking a little extra time to plan out your week's meals will help keep you on your regimen. The longer you stick to a well-rounded diet, the quicker you are going to see results as you monitor your progress.

Exercise Regularly and Intelligently

Cutting fat alone does not work. If you maintain or increase your intake of calories, while reducing or eliminating your intake of fat, (which is practically impossible and unsafe to attempt), you would still not reduce your current body fat percentage. Unless your daily activity involves lots of physical activity, you must include a series of reasonable exercises, done on a daily basis, to burn off excess calories and to begin building lean body mass or, in other words, muscle.

The exercise schedule should be one that you can manage on a daily basis, is comfortable for you to stick with, and fits safely into your own lifestyle. Start out modestly - you can always turn up the gas when you begin to feel really fit!
Adopting new daily habits will begin to make exercise an integral part of your life. For example try these:
  • Use the stairs instead of an elevator whenever possible
  • Park at the periphery of the shopping center lot
  • Carry your own packages
  • Stand and walk around the office while reading or thinking
  • Don't eat lunch at your desk, walk to a salad bar
  • Forget the cab, walk to the station. Or just walk!
Establish a Regular Exercise Program
When setting up your exercise regimen, include two types of formal exercise. Aerobic, or cardiovascular, training (rapid walking, running, biking, aerobic dance, etc.) raises the heart rate and strengthens the heart and lungs while burning calories. When engaging in this sort of exercise, the objective is to raise and maintain your heart rate in a "target heart rate zone." Try to monitor your heart rate when you've reached what you think is a comfortable activity level. Your target zone is 50-75% of your maximum rate, which can be roughly estimated by subtracting your age from 220. Start slowly and gradually increase your efforts to higher levels. Before beginning your new routine, discuss your plans with your physician.

You have to set up a schedule of aerobic exercise, choosing from what is available to you in your daily cycle. The American Heart Association recommends 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week to promote cardiovascular fitness.

The other form of exercise is resistance training, such as weight lifting, sit-ups, etc. These exercises firm the body and tone the muscles. They are not as efficient at burning excess fat directly, but they help muscles to do their job more efficiently. In addition, toning exercises may make you immediately feel better because they release stress without causing fatigue.
Exercising will not only reduce body fat, but it will also improve circulation, release stress, raise energy level, plus it will improve appearance and one's self esteem. How can you lose? Some tips for designing and getting started with your own regimen:
Set quantitative goals
Write down what you want to accomplish, short and long term
Allot the time
Set a regular workout time each day and stick to it
Variety helps
Include as wide variety of exercises as practical
Exercise with a friend
Make a commitment and stick with it while you have someone next to you for encouragement
Keep a daily log
Mark down your activities, your weight and body fat percentage
Why Monitor your Body Fat?
Don't be surprised if your weight increases with the addition of dense muscle tissue as your body fat percentage (and size) comes down. And expect the process to be slow. No matter what method you use to monitor body fat, consistency is the key to gauging percentage of change. It is best to take measurements at the same time each day, but whatever time of day you measure you body fat, try to allow about three hours after rising, eating or hard exercise, and be consistent.


Weighing In - Precise and Accurate Bathroom Scales for Home Weighing
Body Mass Index - Defined and Charted
A Step Toward A Healthier Life
Controlling Your Weight
Definitions of Weighty Terms
Body Mass Index Information Page

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Related Topics
Weighing In
Body Mass Index Chart
Steps To A Healthier Life
Controlling Your Weight
Weighty Terms
Body Mass Index - BMI
Exercise Benefits
Walking
Walk for Health