Today is the official start of summer! For many, this signals a time to lose weight. Summertime provides numerous opportunities for us to be more active and summer heat often reduces our appetite. The very act of eating can increase the amount of heat your body produces, so eating less just “feels” right for many people. In our last blog post, we talked about the benefits of losing weight. Today, we’ll discuss some ways you can help achieve that goal.
Enjoy the outdoors
Those of us lucky enough to live in southern California have ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors almost year-round. But for those of you who live in cooler climes, use the summer months as an excuse to become more active. Take a swim in the ocean or hike in the woods or mountains. Take some time out of your day to simply walk—whether that’s walking to a bus stop that’s a little further down the road, parking a little further away from the office, or making part of your lunch hour a walk around the block. Every little bit helps. A brisk walk will also help to clear your head and possibly make you more productive.
Become conscious of what you eat
Do you unconsciously grab a snack on your way to work in the morning? Or first thing when you come home at night? Simply being aware of unconscious habits can help you recognize times when you might be eating when you’re not even hungry. So when you get home from work, instead of grabbing that snack, take the dog for a walk, mow the lawn or check your email. Try
this experiment: Prepare (or order, if eating out) half of what you normally would (if eating out, share an entrée instead of having one for yourself). Eat slower. Try to make the meal last at least 20 minutes. Let the food settle for at least another 10 minutes. After that, if you’re still hungry, consider ordering a side dish or some dessert or grabbing some fruit in your fridge. If you practice this enough, you’ll (probably) soon discover that less food begins to fill you up. And that’s a good first step in losing weight.
Get a good night’s sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, inadequate sleep lowers our metabolic rate, leading to weight gain. And a lack of sleep can hinder the ability of the frontal lobe of the brain—which governs decision-making and impulse control—to perform at its best, making it harder to resist food cravings. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who were sleep-deprived tended to eat more late-night snacks and were most likely to choose high-carb snacks.
Get a dog
Dogs require exercise and serve as an impetus for their owners to get up off the couch and go for a walk. In addition to creating a reason for exercise, dogs provide numerous other benefits that tend to help us curb overeating. According to Allen R. McConnell, Ph.D., lead researcher of a study conducted by psychologists at Miami University and St. Louis University, “Pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extraverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners.”
Make healthier choices
Instead of having a glass of orange juice in the morning, substitute a glass of water. If that seems unthinkable, try a “half and half” – half orange juice, half water. That way, you’ll get most of the taste with half the calories. Drinking a glass of water before meals may also help curb your appetite. Instead of potato chips, have a bowl of air-popped popcorn or, better yet, an apple. Instead of ice cream, try some fruit sorbet. Instead of a prepackaged, microwavable entrée (which are often loaded with unnecessary salt, sugar and trans fats), fix something from fresh, whole ingredients.
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and well-being. Next month, we’ll explore how people living with mobility challenges can still get the exercise they need to stay healthy.