The Healthy Way to Slim Down for Summer
It’s almost May, which means summer is almost here! For some people this may be the best news they have heard in months. But for others, this may be terrifying. Why? Some might be frustrated because they haven’t lost the weight they were planning to for their New Year’s Resolution, or they dread looking at themselves in shorts, tank tops, and swimsuits. If this is you, know that you are not alone – I would bet most people are feeling the same way. Listed below are some tips to help you feel your best so you are summer ready.
Losing Weight Does Not Happen in a Week
I’m sorry to say that if you are just now deciding you want to lose 50 pounds in time for the summer, you might not reach your goals (I’m a realistic dietitian). With this in mind, give yourself a goal to losing 1-2 pounds of body weight each week. This is achievable, and provides more long-lasting results! Even if you don’t reach the look you wanted for this summer, you will be losing weight healthfully and working towards a weight you can keep for the rest of your life.
Tip the Scale – Burn More Calories than You Consume
The best way to lose weight healthfully and effectively is to burn a little more than you consume. Luckily for us, everyone burns calories even when they lie in bed all day (this is called your resting metabolic rate, or RMR). Usually we maintain our weight when we are eating about the same amount as we are burning at rest. Think of a balanced scale, one side being your RMR and calories burned through activity, and the other side being the calories consumed through food & drink. The more active we become, the more calories are burned, which makes the ‘calories burned’ side of the scale higher than the ‘calories consumed’ side.
For losing weight, this is the visual you want to achieve. Keeping the ‘calories burned’ side of the scale higher can be difficult for some. Based on years and years of research, we have found that this is most easily accomplished by a reduction of anywhere from 250-750 kcals/day, plus having a good workout.
Focus on How You Feel
Rather than focusing on a number on the scale, focus on how you feel. Does increasing your activity mean you aren’t huffing and puffing when you walk up the stairs anymore? Are you finding that lifting your kids isn’t as strenuous any more after lifting weights at the gym? Does your hair feel softer now that you’ve incorporated more fruits and vegetables into your diet? Do you have more energy? This is what is important. The more you focus on how a healthy diet and regular exercise makes you feel, the more at peace with your weight you will be, plus the body fat will come off on it’s own.
Seriously, Don’t Focus on the Numbers
Muscle weighs more than fat. If you are regularly exercising (especially weight-training) and eating a healthy diet, there is a good chance you are losing fat and gaining muscle. The reality is that your scale can’t tell you if that is what is happening. It might even show weight gain. Only you can tell what is going on in your body by how you feel and how you look.
Overall, the best way to lose weight is to not focus on the weight loss at all – focus on making healthier choices for you and what makes you feel alive. Make goals about trying new recipes, buying local produce, participating in a 5k this summer, or training for a 10k. These goals are far more enjoyable to be a part of rather than goals of “losing 10 pounds”. Healthy choices do lead to weight loss with time and patience. Even if you make these different kinds of goals, I can assure you the weight will come off with time. Plus! You may feel much more at peace with yourself and your body. Now that is something I can get on board with!
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Michelle Yates, RD, LMNT, is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health Lakeside Hospital, specializing in the Medical/Surgical unit & the Oncology unit. She doubles as a dance instructor as well as a master’s student for Health Psychology. Her passions are to help others break free from any negative ideas of food they carry, along with opening their eyes to the joys of “everything in moderation”.