Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Weight Loss Doesn't Have To Be Expensive

Beautiful Plus-Sized Women

This is the time of year when people make those dreaded New Year's resolutions. I'm certain you will not be surprised to discover that weight loss is one of the most popular resolution.

According to a survey commissioned by Weight Watchers and conducted by Harris Interactive(R) about half (45%) of U.S. women say losing weight will be one of their New Year's resolutions for the upcoming year. Among those who will resolve to lose weight in the New Year. A recent study found 35 percent of people will break their resolutions by the end of January and only 23 percent will achieve their goals. The odds are against me you say. Why should I even try? I can't afford to lose weight now?

About seven years ago I lost 40 pounds. The weight had just crept up on me and it was easy for me to ignore a few pounds here and there until finally it was something I just couldn't ignore any longer. Once I finally made the commitment I learned so much about my body and food that I've been able to keep the weight off all these years later.

You can learn to eat healthy on a tight budget. Here are seven tips to help you do just that.

1. Read the nutritional values on the food labels. Make sure you are getting you money's worth. WebMd has a very informative article: How to Read Food Labels. Just because an item says it is "lite" doesn't mean it's better for you. Take advantage of sales at the grocery store and when possible combine them with coupons. Stock up when possible.

2. Eat your fruits and veggies. Sure our moms told us to eat our veggies and yes we get after our kids to eat their veggies, but do we really eat OUR veggies? You don't have to scratch fresh fruits and veggies off the menu just because money is tight. Shop the season. For example, apples are cheaper in the fall so is squash. Don't be afraid to try new fruits or vegetables. This autumn Mr. Thrifty and I tried spaghetti squash for the first time. We actually loved it and would eat it again. I know you believe your kids just don't or won't eat their vegetables but you can set a good example by making sure you eat yours.

"Veg-Up" your meals. If you read a box of hamburger helper they give you serving suggestions for veggies that would taste good with your meal. Vegetables are low in calories, which is good, and they are high in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber. Frozen vegetables are quick, easy, and inexpensive. Heat them quickly on the stove or in the microwave. You can choose single vegetables such as peas, carrots, green beans, and cauliflower, or you can try seasoned blends of vegetables.

If you drop red meat, poultry and fish from your diet, you'll find plant proteins cheaper than the equivalent amount of animal protein. The cheapest cuts of beef, such as ground round, average $3 per pound in U.S. cities (lean and extra lean); boneless chicken breasts cost $3.40 a pound; and canned tuna is about $2 per pound. Compare that with dried beans and lentils at less than $1 a pound and rice well below $1 per pound. A vegetarian diet is also better for the planet, reducing water usage and global-warming gases.

3. Portions. I will have to admit this was the downfall for the slippery slope that caused me to gain those initial 40 pounds. My parents served meals with servings so large one would have thought they were feeding soldiers coming back from a ten mile march. I went on to have two boys who were on the fast track to vertical growth. Seconds? Why the heck not when it tastes so good. Oh the kids didn't finish that, I don't want it to go to waste so I'll finish it.

A serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards. I know, when I first saw that amount on my plate my eyes told my head "Are You Kidding?' Go to any restaurant and you will see huge, sometimes never ending servings of meat. Our bodies don't need as much meat as we think it does. We actually need far more servings of vegetables and fruits than we do of meat. You can fill in the gaps by serving whole grains with your meal. When you limit portion size, you can stretch your meals further. I used to make those helper meals when I was rushed for time and they always called for a pound of hamburger. Believe it or not they taste perfectly fine with half that amount, especially if you add your families favorite veggies.

While we're on the subject of veggies you can cut down the cost of your meals by serving vegetarians dishes two or three nights a week. Beans are a good substitute for meat and can provide many of the same proteins and fibers. Research has proven that a vegetarian diet can lower your grocery bill. It may even save you money on health care costs, since vegetarians are less likely to suffer from obesity or chronic illness. Hubby and I have found that vegetarian meals doesn't mean rabbit food.

4. You do not have to belong to a Health Club in order to exercise. You should definitely visit a doctor before you begin an exercise program. The United Stats Surgeon General recommends to add about 30 minutes of physical activity of moderate intensity activity each day ON TOP of your customary daily activities. The problem is that nearly 50% of people who start an exercise program will quit within six months.

The average American adult averages 3,000 to 5,000 steps a day. Wearing a pedometer is an easy way to track your steps each day. Start by wearing the pedometer every day for one week. Put it on when you get up in the morning and wear it until bed time. Record your daily steps in a log or notebook. By the end of the week you will know your average daily steps. You might be surprised how many (or how few) steps you take each day. If you take an extra 2,000 steps while eating 100 fewer calories a day is enough to keep most people from gaining the typical two pounds a year that comes with middle-age spread.

You can slip those extra steps in by using the stairs insteadof the elevator, parking further away from the door of you office, church, mall, or grocery store. Walk around the store or mall before you shop. Take a walk after dinner.

No time for a walk? To quote one of Mr. Thrifty's favorite sayings, "You can make time for anything you want." There is no television show that is as important as the walk hubby and I take together in the evening after dinner. We use this time to talk about how our day went, our hopes, and plans. It only takes a half an hour out of our day but it's worth it in so many ways. Hubby not interested in walking? My mother used to put the youngest in the stroller and walk us around the block. Since there were six of us at the time we looked like quite the little parade. It was amazing how many kids, who weren't related to us would tag along. Consider finding a buddy to exercise with or locate a few buddies you can call upon to join you from time to time. But don’t let a flagging commitment on the part of your buddy influence your commitment to your goals. If no one else will go with you bring your dog. My dog lives for his walk. Bring your i-Pod and program it with your favorite music.

Check out your local library for exercise DVD's. Our library has exercise programs which include belly dancing videos, Sweating to the Oldies, and so much more.

5. Keep a log. One of the best tips I ever received for losing weight was to keep a food journal. This makes you accountable for every bit of food you put in your mouth. I kept mine as a spreadsheet on my computer but many people find it even more telling to keep this information on a small calendar that you can carry with you wherever you go. You can make these as simple or as elaborate as you would like. I find it better to keep is simple. Here is an example of a food journal from the smart people at MIT. Another food diary can be found here. Are you using Weight Watchers? Use this site to help calculate the points you are consuming.
Keep an exercise log so you can monitor yourself.

6. One of the best ways to lose weight is through motivation. When you have people around to support you, it's easy to reach your goals. Join a support group like 10,000 steps. Yahoo support groups. Check out your local church, library, or community center. My workplace had a "Biggest Loser" support group last year. Each participant paid $10 to get in on the pool. There was a weekly weigh in. If you missed the weigh-in you had to cough up an additional $2. You paid a fine for gaining weight. At the end of the competition, the male and female who lost the most weight won the kitty.

7. Avoid Fast Food. Let me repeat that. Avoid eating fast food as much as possible. Instead, make large quantities when you cook and freeze the food in serving-size portions. Want some inspiration for breaking the fast food addiction? Check out the movie SuperSize me or Fast Food Nation.

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