Nutrition Articles

Spring Has Sprung! Are You in Shape to Shed those Winter Clothes?
The days are getting warmer and it's time to shed those layers of winter clothing. It's also time to shed extra pounds that may have crept on during the colder months.

No matter what the "diet-of-the-moment" claims, there's no magical way to lose weight. What works is to eat less and move more.

Try these spring shape-up tips.

First of all, calories count. A recent study demonstrated that reducing calories is more important for weight management than consuming particular amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates.

In the study, more than 800 overweight adults followed one of four low-calorie diets made up of varying amounts of protein, fat and carbs. Each diet was high in fiber and low in saturated fat, and subjects were asked to exercise 90 minutes a week. Regardless of the plan followed, subjects lost about 13 pounds in six months and kept off about nine pounds after two years. Lessons learned: Choose a balanced, reduced-calorie eating plan you can stick with long term. And don't forget to exercise.

Set realistic goals. Vowing to "lose 25 pounds" might seem overwhelming. Instead, set a small goal to lose five pounds. Once accomplished, set out to lose the next five pounds until you reach your ultimate goal.

Take it a change at a time. Mastering one small improvement at a time can help you stick with healthy habits. For instance, if you eat a double scoop of ice cream every night, savor a single scoop instead. Once that's routine, make another small change like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Small changes like these add up to big results for your health and weight.

Trim a little. Except for fruits and veggies, trim your usual portion sizes by about one-third. Pour a little less cereal in your bowl. Save part of your deli sandwich for tomorrow. Take a smaller casserole helping at dinner. You'll be surprised at how satisfied you feel with less food—and fewer calories.

Accentuate the positive. Focus on what you can eat, not what you can't eat. Celebrate spring with a snack of juicy strawberries or try a new recipe for a veggie-filled stir-fry. Be positive about exercise, too—grab a friend and enjoy a walk in the nicer weather.

Substitute, don't eliminate. Shunning favorite foods can make you want them all the more. Instead, try great-tasting, lower-calorie substitutes. For example, squeeze a dollop of reduced-fat mayo on your sandwich or enjoy a scoop of "light" chocolate ice cream for dessert. Occasionally, enjoy a small serving of the "real thing."

Listen to your body. Perhaps the best weight management advice is to eat when you're hungry and stop when you've had "just enough." Our bodies send us these important signals, but often we're too busy or distracted to pay attention. Slow down, enjoy your food and listen to your body's advice.