The Truth About Losing Weight

The Truth About Losing Weight

By Sheryl Kraft

This time of year, before the New Year’s resolutions even begin, many people begin to think about weight. Or, maybe they’ve always thought about weight but are thinking about it even more lately.

How could you not, with all the focus on food? You might still be recovering from your Thanksgiving feast, but at the same time, you’re likely starting to plan the next holiday festivity (which no doubt includes lots of food and drink).

No wonder weight and dieting is top of mind—and will be for the next few months.

In the world of weight loss, people are always searching for the newest, greatest, easiest, most effective way to shed pounds. But the basic concepts remain the same: eat less, move more. Sorry, there’s no magic bullet.

Losing weight might take work, but the payoffs are huge. You’ll reduce stress on your joints and reduce your risk of chronic health issues, like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers, too.

Here are some simple tried-and-true tips—because we all need a dose of reality when it comes to our weight.

  1. Eat slowly. A new Japanese study finds an association between slow eating and weight loss. Researchers found that a simple change like eating slowly, rather than gulping your food, can yield a smaller waist size and lower rates of obesity and overweight. Mindfulness and discipline go hand in hand with slow eating, and when food is appreciated for its quality, rather than its quantity, people are satisfied more when eating less. Eating slowly also gives your brain the time it needs to get the signal from your stomach that it is, indeed, full.
  2. Quit early. If you love those late-night dinners or snacks, and you think you still have some room in your calorie count to fit one more in, it might be time to make a change. According to new research, late-night eating (even if it’s a healthy dinner) isn’t the best idea for your body (or for your sleep). When things work as they naturally should, your melatonin levels begin to rise in preparation for sleep and, in turn, your insulin production falls. This is your body’s way of protecting itself from low blood sugar during a period of fasting. But if you have recently eaten, your blood sugar levels will climb, yet the insulin you need is not available to help them level off (until, that is, in the morning when your melatonin levels naturally decrease). You’re stuck with high blood sugar throughout the night, putting you at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and weight gain. Experts’ advice? Stop eating about three hours before you turn in. If you need more incentive to quit eating earlier in the evening, there’s more than just weight at stake: A study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that people who quit eating at least two hours before bedtime had a 20 percent lower risk of breast and prostate cancer.
  3. Age-related weight gain is not inevitable. It’s a fact of life: As we age, our hormone levels and metabolism slows—and it’s tougher to keep extra pounds from creeping up. But note the word “tougher” doesn’t mean “impossible.” It’s not just about the physical changes, either. You may have less time or inclination to exercise or to cook, but both are important in fighting weight gain. Exercise releases endorphins, which can make you feel calmer and happier. And as stress can lead to overeating for some, a calm and happy mind can take the focus off of food as comfort. Exercise can also boost a lagging metabolism and help you burn calories more efficiently. Lifting weights will help you maintain muscle mass, which in turn helps to burn more calories (not to mention reduce your risk for injury and falls). Any exercise is better than none. Fit in 10-minute increments at various times of the day; stand up more; walk to your coworkers desks to talk rather than sending emails; take the stairs rather than the elevator; get off the bus or subway one stop earlier. And remember, it’s never too late to start!


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