How to shed those winter pounds

January 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Shed those holiday pounds easily and effectively! Tips to help you eat healthy throughout the year. Dietician Alison Eastwood shares advice on how to embark on a mid-winter slimdown.

Alison's tips:

· Are you ready for weight loss? The first step to embarking on a successful weight loss endeavor is being ready to make some changes. So you need to ask yourself, "am I ready for weight loss?" If so, it needs to be about making behavior changes, and accepting that diets don't work. Diets are about deprivation and temporary discipline. The research show that the successful losers take food and exercise knowledge and turn this into behavior change (ie, regular exercise, making healthier food choices, cutting the emotional eating, etc). So are you ready to begin making changes, really? Remember, there's only 3 ways to lose weight: cut calories, increase exercise, or a combination of the two.

· Set a realistic weight loss goal of no more than 1-2 pounds weekly. Consider completely ditching the scale altogether and instead focus on how your clothing fits. If you do use the scale, don't weight yourself daily, instead weekly. And what's even better, is to focus on behavior change-this means keeping a log of your behaviors, and daily recording if you are following them, and if you aren't, why. (ie, packing your lunch daily, keeping a bowl of fruit at your desk to grab for an afternoon snack, not weighing yourself daily on the scale, etc.)

· Be an introvert with your eating. When cutting your intake, you need to learn how to eat until you are just satisfied, no longer "empty", and yet not stuffed. Remember, there is a 20 minute delay of your stomach signaling your brain that you are full. (also could point out the fist = stomach size). So pay attention, be conscious, aware (and not distracted by tv, reading, etc.) as to what you are eating and drinking. Eat slowly, try a little of everything that looks good-don't deprive yourself, or feel that you need to eat everything on your plate. It is about keeping your portions small. Keep regular meals, don't arrive to any meal starving, as this can contribute to overeating. Finally, stay away from particularly hi calorie foods such as fried, greasy, creamy foods.

· Choose lower calorie beverages, limit your alcohol intake, and even cut alcohol altogether. A lot of coffee beverages are made with a lot of added fat and sugar. You need to read the nutritional information to find out how many calories you are drinking. It can be the equivalent in calories to an entire meal. Opt for regular tea and coffees, and add your own real sugar and low-fat milk. And instead of juice, I recommend a good-for-you beverage, vitaminwater, a great-tasting, electrolyte enhanced water that is packed with a range of nutrients, and only 50 calories per 8 ounces-so it has ½ the calories of juice. As for alcohol beverages, I recommend you cut it out during weight loss. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, so you are more likely to overeat. Alcohol also slows your metabolism, and is a depressant. If you do chose to include alcohol in your weight loss program, I suggest you have only one or two drinks per week, and opt for light beer, cider, or wine which has significantly less calories over mixed drinks.

· The research has proven that you can't successfully lose weight and keep it off without exercise. Start an exercise routine. All you need is a pair of comfortable shoes to step out the door and walk. Start small, tell yourself 10 minutes of walking-5 minutes one way, and 5 minutes back. Then once you are walking, you'll being to feel good, and end up walking maybe a little longer. Work up to 30, 45, 60 minutes most days of the week. During the winter months we are usually less active-it's colder and wet out. You've got to layer! You can also buy a rather inexpensive exercise trampoline and do it indoors if you prefer. Get a pedometer, the goal is 10,000 steps, or 5 miles a day. Add even more punch to your workout by doing some strength training-bands, dumbbells, doesn't matter, resistance training builds muscle, which is more metabolically active-so you will burn more calories during the day.

About Alison Eastwood:
Alison spent the first 10 years of her career in clinical nutrition developing a solid foundation in the fundamentals. She was a clinical dietitian from 1997 to 2004 at the University of California, San Francisco specializing in heart disease reversal and breast cancer. She also worked with famed cardiac and complementary medicine researcher Dr. Dean Ornish for eight years delivering nutrition lectures, working with chefs to implement low-fat vegetarian menus, and providing one-on-one patient counseling. Alison rounded out this clinical experience with her role as director of nutrition services for the prestigious San Francisco Bay Club where she offered nutrition counseling and classes on wellness, fitness, and weight loss.

Beyond serving as an advisor and clinician, Alison is a seasoned and enthusiastic cook, something she enjoys doing personally and professionally. She has developed and tested dozens of recipes while building the food desk for, and was the nutrition contributor for the best selling cookbook Super Smoothies (Chronicle Books 2000).

Alison's performance and professionalism earned her the American Dietetic Association's Young Dietitian of the Year award in 2000 and continues to foster her positive reputation in the field.