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In the following pages you will find three simple steps to weight loss: 1. Find your desirable weight, 2. Determine how many calories you need to eat to lose, and 3. Follow a healthy eating plan designed to help take off the pounds. Because successful weight loss plans usually require lifestyle changes, you will also find helpful hints for making these changes easier, ways to reward your progress, and tips for becoming more active. Before you begin this healthy eating plan and embark on the journey to a new, thinner you, let's do a little soul-searching.
How Ready Are you?
So you want to lose weight. Are you really ready? Based on our experience at the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, individuals who are not ready to lose weight have a difficult time making the lifestyle changes that are important for weight loss.
What are your main reasons for wanting to lose weight?
___To improve my appearance
___To improve my health or reduce my risk of medical problems
___To improve my energy level or fitness
___To please someone important to me
___To look good for an upcoming event
___To improve some other area of my life (e.g.: find a partner, get a better job)
Obviously, if you can't identify any reasons to lose weight, doing so will be difficult! However, if you checked one or more, think about your reasons and consider thesequestions:
ONE Are your reasons specific? A vague reason such as "It's a good idea" is likely to be less motivating than one that applies specifically to you.
TWO Are they important to you? Your reasons might be great ones, but if they don't really matter to you, they won't be motivating.
THREE Do they require immediate results? Improving your health is a likely outcome of weight loss, but you may not see these results right away.
FOUR Do they meet your needs and not just the needs of others? Losing weight must be important to you. If you're taking on this mission primarily to please someone else, it won't keep you motivated enough to meet your goals. As selfish as it sounds, do this just for you!
FIVE Can they sustain your motivation over the long term? Losing weight for an upcoming wedding or other special occasion may motivate you until the big event, but what happens afterward? Similarly, many people expect certain changes following weight loss, such as a busier social life or new job opportunities. If these expected life improvements don't follow weight loss, motivation tends to dwindle.
Which Factors May Interfere with your Ability to Stick to a Weight Loss Plan?
___Lack of time. As with most worthwhile things, following a healthy eating plan may take time and effort. Learning the ins and outs of a meal plan will initially require a little time. You will need time to prepare meals so that you aren't vulnerable to the convenience of fast food, and time for regular physical activity.
___Lack of support from your partner, family, or others. Friends and family members may not support you simply because they don't know how to support you. On the other hand, if a family member or other individual seems to be deliberately sabotaging your efforts, you need to be assertive and set limits with this person. If the saboteur is your spouse or partner, you should discuss whether he/she feels threatened by your weight loss.
___Major stressful event(s). Major life changes or stress in your life—work (job changes), finances, relationships (marriage, divorce), residence (moving), school (beginning or ending), children (birth or parenting issues), death or loss, or a serious illness—could make weight loss difficult.
___Presence of an untreated psychological or psychiatric problem. Depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, or similar problems can be debilitating and painful, and they will surely interfere with your weight loss attempt. If you think you have psychological issues, seek advice from a qualified professional.
Even with a great plan and the best intentions, if you are experiencing any of these stresses, they may be roadblocks to your success. Evaluate your current lifestyle and make any necessary changes to ensure that you are ready to stick your plan.
One. Cheek Your Weight
Remember looking up your weight on the old height and weight tables to see if you were overweight? Well, those old tables based on life insurance company statistics have fallen out of favor because they do not reflect the actual risk for the average American. Instead, a measure called body-mass index (BMI) is now widely accepted as the standard measure of weight adjusted for height. Rather than evaluating absolute body weight, BMI is a ratio of your weight to height. People with a higher BMI tend to have a higher risk of developing long-term health problems. Although, if you are muscular, you may have a high BMI without any additional health risks.
To determine your BMI, consult the table on page 8. A BMI of 19 to 24.9 is considered healthy, 25 to 30 is considered overweight, and 30 or higher is considered obese. Find your height in the left-hand column and move across to find your weight; look to see what category you fall into.
The decision to attempt to lose weight if you fall into the overweight or obese category by BMI is up to you, as the table is only a guideline. In fact, one of the limitations of the current knowledge of obesity is that it is difficult to accurately predict who will suffer a health complication from being overweight and who won't. Family and personal histories provide some guidance. If overweight close relatives have suffered from heart disease at a relatively early age, or have type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes, it could mean a higher risk for you. If you personally have one of the health conditions commonly associated with obesity, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, your risk of further problems such as a heart attack or stroke is increased, particularly if you are overweight or obese.
What's your Goal?
Your goal weight should be realistic and achievable for who you are today (not 25 years ago!).
For example, if you haven't weighed less than 155 pounds since you were 16, a goal weight of 120 pounds may be unrealistic. Instead of setting a goal that you can't reach, choose a more reasonable goal, such as the lowest adult weight that you have maintained for a year or more. If this goal weight doesn't seem satisfying, it might still be a good initial goal. Once you reach this first goal, take a step back and reevaluate how you feel. Decide whether you want to set a lower goal weight and continue with weight loss. Keep in mind that most of the health benefits of weight loss can be achieved with a small amount of weight loss (5 to 10 percent of your initial body weight). You don't have to have a healthy BMI to experience a positive effect on your health. For example, a 200-pound, 5-foot-6-inch woman would still be considered overweight at 180 pounds (a 10 percent weight loss), but she would have a substantially lower risk for health problems.
As you track your weight loss, resist the temptation to jump on the scale more than once a day. Weigh yourself daily, at the same time, wearing the same amount of clothing. Take day-to-day fluctuations in stride, but if the scale shows an upward trend over a few weeks, it's best addressed.
Two. What You Need to Live
Everyone is unique. Height, weight, and daily physical activity vary from person to person. Even if you are the same height and weight as a friend, your calorie needs may be higher or lower due to differing activity levels. For best results, you need to know how many calories you need to lose weight. Match your weight in the left column of the table on page 10 with the activity level that best describes your lifestyle. Write down the corresponding number of calories.
Refer to your results from Step One and get ready to do a little math. If you are at a healthy weight, this is the amount of calories you need to maintain your weight. If you are overweight, subtract 500 calories from your daily needs. If you are obese, subtract 750 calories from your daily needs.
For example, if you are a 5-foot 7-inch woman who weighs 180 pounds (a BMI considered to be overweight) and have the activity level of a Couch Spud, you need 2,340 calories per day to maintain your weight. Because you fall into the overweight category, subtract 500 calories to give you a total of 1,850 calories to promote weight loss.
If you are a 6-foot 3-inch male who weighs 190 pounds (a BMI in the healthy category) and have a Fairly Brisk activity level, you need 3,135 calories to maintain your healthy weight.
Three. Your Daily Eating Plan
After you've determined your calorie goal based on the tables from page 10, find the correct Daily Eating Plan on page 12 to help you lose weight or maintain a healthy diet. Use the Food List on page 13 as a guide for portion sizes in each group,
Flex your Plan
Your meal plan can be as flexible as your lifestyle demands. Divide the total number of food group servings by the number of meals and snacks you typically eat in a day. If you usually eat one to two meals per day, consider the following tips for a more healthful approach:
Don't skip meals. It is best to eat three meals and one to two snacks each day. Eating small amounts throughout the day helps reduce hunger, especially when cutting back on calories. You'll be less tempted to overeat to make up for that skipped meal. This doesn't mean you should always eat three full meals every day whether you are hungry or not. A light meal or snack might satisfy you when you aren't very hungry.
Watch the soda! It is easy to unknowingly drink extra calories if you sip high-calorie beverages such as soda or fruit juice throughout the day. Even though you eat a fairly healthful diet with reasonable portion sizes, the calories from regular soda and high-calorie juice drinks can put you over the top and contribute to weight gain. Soda doesn't give your body any nutrients, only calories. Fruit juice, although it is more nutrient-dense, can pack a lot of calories in a small amount. A serving of juice is rather small—3/4 cup. When you include juice in your meal plan, don't drink more than one to two servings each day. A piece of raw fruit is a better choice because it is usually portioned and provides your body with fiber that helps to keep you full. Whole milk, another nutrient-dense beverage, is also high in calories and fat. Gradually switching to fat-free milk reduces the calories and fat in your diet without decreasing the calcium.
Your meal plan can easily accommodate a dinner out if you plan wisely. If dining out is part of your daily routine, keep these tips in mind:
1. Plan a light dinner if you ate a big lunch.
2. Decide ahead of time to skip dessert.
3. Order an appetizer and make it a meal.
4. Select the types and amounts of food that best fit your plan and stick to them without succumbing to temptations. Restaurant portions are often generous. Follow the portion sizes recommended in the Food Lists on page 13 or split your dinner with a friend.
5. Being a member of "The Clean Plate Club" is not mandatory.
6. Ask how the food is prepared. Choose foods that are cooked with the "B" methods, that is baked, broiled, boiled, or braised.
7. Order sauces and salad dressings on the side so you can better control your calorie intake.
What is a good diet anyway? Some people associate the word "diet" with deprivation and restrictions. In reality, a "diet" is any style of eating that is either habitual or prescribed. Contrary to popular belief, a healthy diet can taste good and be very satisfying.
Three key factors can turn a "diet" into a "lifestyle." First, you need to enjoy what you are eating. Otherwise, you can be certain these changes won't last for a lifetime. Second, the diet needs flexibility. People's lives are often unpredictable and busy, so a style of eating that can be easily adapted to your lifestyle is essential. Finally and most importantly, a good diet is one that promotes health. Whether it's eating more fruits and vegetables, limiting fat, increasing dietary fiber, reducing portion sizes, or all of these goals, the result is the promotion of better health. As an added benefit, the characteristics of a healthful diet often result in a more healthful weight.
The Food Guide Pyramid is a key tool in guiding you to eat a healthful diet, and the eating plan is based upon this tool. Each food group provides some, but not all, of the nutrients you need. Foods from one group cannot replace another, and the food groups are equally important. You need to eat from all five tiers of the pyramid for good health.
The foundation of the diet begins with the Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta Group. These foods, when minimally processed, are naturally low in fat and are rich in complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, and fiber. They are often fortified with important minerals such as iron and zinc.
Foods in the Vegetable Group provide you with vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, iron, and magnesium. These foods are also significant sources of fiber and phytochemicals, or plant nutrients.
Foods in the Fruit Group are similar to vegetables because they are wonderful sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and phytochemicals.
The Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese Group provides significant sources of calcium, protein, vitamin D, and phosphorus. Most Americans fail to get adequate amounts of calcium in their daily diets. Choose reduced-fat dairy foods. They contain fewer calories and fat but are calcium-rich.
Foods in the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Beans, and Nuts Group supply protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B-12. Choose lean cuts of beef and pork to cut fat and calories from this group.
The Fats, Oils, and Sweets Group should enhance the flavor of foods from the lower half of the pyramid. Use them sparingly because they contain little nutrition and are often loaded with calories.
How Does the Food Guide Pyramid Compare to the Food Lists?
This book helps you determine how many calories you should eat each day and provides an appropriate number of servings from each food group in your meal plan. The serving sizes in the Food List are based on the Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations.
Both the pyramid and the eating plans promote a healthful diet by including variety, balance, and moderation.
Variety All foods can fit into a healthful diet. Eating foods from each of the five food groups helps to ensure adequate nutrition and makes eating more interesting for your palate. Even though your plan contains the same number of bread servings daily, it doesn't mean you have to make the same choices from the bread group each day. Mix it up!
Balance Eating within your meal plan helps you eat enough—but not too much. The number of servings in your plan from each food group is balanced for adequate nutrition. Because the Fats, Oils and Sweets Group packs more calories and fewer nutrients per serving than the other groups, there are fewer servings of this group daily.
Moderation Follow "What's a Portion?" (page 13) as a guide to ideal portion size. Many people eat a healthful diet but gain weight Because their portion sizes are too large. It's not necessary to purchase a kitchen scale to measure serving sizes. A deck of cards is about the size of a 3-ounce serving of meat. A computer mouse is the size of a small baked potato. Retain these mental images for reference.
QUIZ: Rate your Fat Intake
Fat has long been labeled the negative nutrient when it comes to heart health and the right to lose weight. Because fat contains more than twice the calories per gram as do carbohydrate and protein, cutting the fat in your diet will reduce overall calories. Ask yourself the following:
1. I drink whole or 2% milk. Y / N
2. I eat at least 1 ounce of regular cheese at least four days a week. Y / N
3. I usually add cream, half-and-half, or regular non-dairy creamer to my coffee or tea. Y / N
4. I snack on ice cream, cake, cookies, and chocolate at least three days a week (excluding the reduced-fat and fat-free varities). Y / N
5. I use regular salad dressing, mayonnaise, and sour cream at least three days a week. Y / N
6. I eat a fast food meal at least once a week. Y / N
7. I eat deep-fried food at least twice a week. Y / N
8. I use butter or margarine at most meals. Y / N
9. I eat less than one fruit and one vegetable each day. Y / N
Breakfast Casserole Fuel up for a day of biking or hiking with this thyme-flavored ham and potato breakfast casserole. For a little variety, substitute another fresh herb such as basil, oregano, or tarragon.
Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch, 1 Lean Meat
Nutrition Facts per serving: 180 cal., 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 16 mg chol., 445 mg sodium, 23 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 13 g pro. Daily Values: 10% vit. A. 26% vit. C, 14% calcium, 16% iron
1 pound tiny new potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup thinly sliced leek
Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup chopped lower-fat and lower-sodium cooked ham
3 ounces reduced-fat Swiss cheese, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Prep: 25 minutes
Bake: 35 minutes
Makes 6 servings
ONE In a covered large saucepan cook sliced potatoes in a small amount of boiling, lightly salted water about 10 minutes or just until tender, adding the leek the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain potato mixture. TWO Coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Place potato mixture in bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the ham and Swiss cheese. THREE In a medium bowl stir the milk into the flour until smooth. Stir in the egg product, thyme, and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the potato mixture. FOUR Bake in a 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Serve immediately.
Eggs play a crucial role in the success of many recipes. Fortunately it's the binding property found in the fat-free, cholesterol-free egg white that's most often needed. The white, consisting primarily of protein and water, is the main ingredient in most egg substitutes or "egg product." One-fourth cup of egg product equals one whole egg and contains 30 calories, 0 grams fat, and 0 mg cholesterol. Egg product can be used in many recipes that call for whole eggs. Prepare four own substitute by using 2 egg whites for each whole egg. If a recipe requires several eggs or needs a little richness or color, use 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg for ever 2 whole eggs.
Cheddar-Polenta Puff Bold, extra-sharp cheddar cheese mingles with Italian polenta and fluffy egg whites. The result? A satisfying, flavorful breakfast dish that has less than half the fat and cholesterol of a regular cheese soufflé.
Exchanges: 1/2 Milk, 1/2 Starch, 1/2 Lean Meat
Nutrition Facts per serving: 168 cal., 6 g total fat (5 g sat. fat), 69 mg chol., 397 mg sodium, 14 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 13 g pro. Daily Values: 20% vit. A, 10% vit. C, 21% calcium, 5% iron
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped red sweet pepper
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 slightly beaten egg yolk 1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (1 ounce)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray
Prep: 40 minutes
Bake: 25 minutes
Makes 4 servings
ONE Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a heavy large saucepan combine milk, sweet pepper, green onion, salt, and ground red pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture just begins to bubble. Slowly add cornmeal, stirring constantly. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Stir half of the cornmeal mixture into the egg yolk. Return the yolk mixture to the saucepan. Stir in cheddar and Parmesan cheeses until melted. TWO Lightly coat a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold about half of the beaten egg whites into the cheese mixture. Gradually pour the cheese mixture over the remaining beaten egg whites, folding to combine. Pour into prepared soufflé dish. THREE Bake in a 375° oven about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean and top is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Baked Brie Strata Buttery-soft Brie cheese oozes between the layers of tender zucchini and crusty bread for a sure-to-please brunch casserole. Garnish the plates with fresh melon wedges and tiny bunches of grapes.
Exchanges: 1 Milk, 1 Vegetable, 1/2 Starch, 1/2 Fat
Nutrition Facts per serving: 198 cal., 8 g total fat (5 g sat. fat), 29 mg chol., 525 mg sodium, 18 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 13 g pro. Daily Values: 13% vit. A, 13% vit. C, 13% calcium, 9% iron
2 small zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 cups)
Nonstick cooking spray
6 1/2-inch slices crusty sourdough bread
8 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
2/3 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Prep: 25 minutes
Chill: 4 hours
Bake: 55 minutes
Stand: 10 minutes
Makes 8 servings
ONE In a covered small saucepan cook zucchini in a small amount of boiling, lightly salted water for 2 to 3 minutes or just until tender. Drain zucchini and set aside. TWO Meanwhile, coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange bread slices in the bottom of prepared baking dish, cutting as necessary to fit. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Arrange zucchini and tomatoes on top of cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. THREE In a medium bowl combine egg product, evaporated milk, onion, dill, salt, and pepper. Pour evenly over vegetables and cheese. Press lightly with the back of a spoon to thoroughly moisten ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. FOUR Remove plastic wrap from strata; cover with foil. Bake in a 325° oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes more or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Excerpted from 3 STEPS TO WEIGHT LOSS by . Copyright © 2001 by Meredith Corporation. Excerpted by permission.