63 percent of Americans are overweight and 31 percent are officially classified as obese. That means that if you are one of the millions of Americans who needs to lose a significant amount of weight, you are not alone.
45 million Americans will go on a diet this year, and they will spend up to $2 billion supporting their diet habits. Nevertheless, almost all of them will actually gain more weight in the course of the year than they will lose.
Most people think that you need a lot of will power to lose a significant amount of weight. The hurdles to losing 50 pounds or more may seem insurmountable. That is one of the reasons various weight loss surgery schemes are so popular.
But before you go under the knife and submit to drastic changes in major organs like the stomach, consider that it is possible to lose weight just by changing some habits. There’s nothing tricky about losing weight. Weight is a function of how many calories you take in and how many calories you burn. It takes 3500 unburned calories to put on a pound. Similarly, if you burn 3500 calories, you lose a pound.
So, the simple math tells us that if you want to lose 50 pounds in one calendar year, all you have to do is take in 500 fewer calories a day.
This actually may be easier than it sounds. While going from a 2000 calorie diet to a 1500 calorie diet is tough – that is 25 percent less calories a day – the average American actually consumes 4270 calories a day. That means that cutting 500 calories is actually just a 12 percent reduction in the amount of food you eat.
But don’t think that all of the reduction has to come from cutting foods. You can also help yourself lose 50 pounds by moving more. While vigorous exercise is recommended for some, others can lose weight just by increasing the amount of physical activity they do each day without developing a formal workout plan.
A Weight Watcher’s leader once told me ‘don’t drink your points.’ Her advice is sage as one of the easiest changes you can make to your diet is to drink more water in place of higher calorie beverages. Consider the following calorie counts in various drinks:
* 12 oz. Regular beer – 153
* 4 oz. Champagne – 200
* 6 oz. Cocoa with Skim Milk – 135
* 12 oz. can of Coke – 155
* 6 oz. sweetened Lemonade – 395
* 8 oz. Gatorade – 63
* 5 oz. red wine – 125
* 8 oz. cranberry juice cocktail – 137
* 12 oz. Tonic water – 124
* 12 oz. orange juice – 160
* 12 oz. soy milk – 150
* 12 oz. Starbucks Caffe Latte – 200
* 12 oz. whole milk – 220
* 12 oz. nonfat milk – 125
You may already be seeing ways to cut out at least half of your required 500 calories on the list above. And be well on your way to lose 50 pounds and keep it off, year after year.
On average, an hour of housework burns 160 calories. To burn 350 calories, a 150 pound woman could do the following bucket of activities in about two hours a day:
* 15 minutes cleaning bathroom (65 calories)
* 15 minutes vacuuming (60 calories)
* 10 minutes taking trash out (28 calories)
* 10 minutes sweep kitchen floors (37 calories)
* 20 minutes cleaning kitchen and washing dishes) (52 calories)
* 15 minutes of laundry (37 calories)
* 25 minutes of cooking (71 calories)
Consider that these are all things that need to be done anyway and you see that the value of doing them yourself may exceed the value of your paying someone else to do them while you head to a pricey gym.
If you have kids, consider spending time with them. Not only will you pry them away from their video games, but you will get exercise in the process. Shooting baskets with your child burns 77 calories in just 15 minutes. Even relatively sedate activities like putting together a puzzle with a child on the floor burns 43 calories in 15 minutes.
Finally, there are figurative steps you can take to build more literal steps in your day. If you are trying to lose weight, get a pedometer and aim to walk 10,000 steps a day. You can do this by:
* Parking farther away from the front door at work.
* Getting off the bus a stop or two earlier than you otherwise would.
* Taking the stairs whenever possible. If you work in a tall building, get off the elevator a
couple of floors early and walk the rest of the way.
* Instead of phoning or emailing a colleague in your office, actually get up and walk over
to her desk.
* Get a dog and walk him twice a day.
* Take a walk with your spouse after dinner