By Kelly Quinn, Franciscan Companies
Before you go to sleep at night, you give yourself the motivational speech. You know — THE motivational speech: “Tomorrow I will stick to my diet. I will exercise and I’ll chug eight full glasses of water.”
Then morning comes. You start it with good intentions. You even drink some of the water. Then, somewhere along the way, it goes out the window. It may be a late afternoon visit to the vending machine. It may be dinner you grab on the way home because you’re just too darn tired to cook. Either way, that night you’re back at square one.
That’s the roller coaster of being a female with a few (or more) pounds to lose.
What’s the trick? The magic formula? Ask any dietician, nutritionist or other health professional and they will agree to this: eat lean protein, veggies, complex (or “good”) carbohydrates, drink water and move more. That is the formula to losing weight and keeping it off.
“No one meal should be comprised of solely one energy source,” Christopher Owens, exercise physiologist for Franciscan Companies, said. “Eat a little carbohydrate, a little protein and a little fat together. If you’re going to have a cracker, have one with peanut butter. They work better together and cause less of a spike in your blood sugar. You’ll feel full longer.”
A blood sugar spike is what causes the 3 p.m. craving of a candy bar. Blame it on white flour, which is in simple carbs.
“Avoid white,” Owens said. “When you get white flour or sugar in food, it sends a very rapid response to the pancreas which produces a larger amount of insulin. The cells take up a lot of the carbohydrates … that’s why you gain weight. Once the cells get what they need, the excess is stored as fat.”
Lean protein, however, makes your body work harder because it’s more difficult to break down. It doesn’t sit on your hips or midsection. Owens suggests lean chicken, pork, beef and egg whites. Pair the protein with so-called “good fats.”
“It’s important to eat a small amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids every day,” Owens said. “Salmon and olive oil are good examples.”
You may think — who has time to plan each meal? Well, make time if getting healthy, increasing energy and looking good is important. You could also try programs like Take Shape for Life.
“Take Shape offers busy, stressed women nutritious, convenient and healthy foods that taste good. Better yet — you don’t feel as if you are being punished,” Leslie Holmberg, MS, RN at St. Joseph’s Hospital, said. The medical weight loss program uses Medifast foods, which contain the right balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
“Convenience is extremely important. You cannot pull a chicken breast out of your purse as you drive down Route 81,” she said. “We need ‘food tools’ that make the process easier and we do best with the help of a knowledgeable coach, which Take Shape, FHS offers.”
We can’t ignore the last component of the “magic formula:” exercise. Experts say most women tend to do cardiovascular exercise, but they neglect resistance training. Getting the heart pumping is important; it’s also essential to use some weights.
“There’s a big exercise myth that if women use weights, they will get bulky,” Owens said. “But they are doing their body an injustice because resistance training is the key for maintaining muscle mass as we age.” Your body needs the stimulation to maintain bone density. Without it, you’re in danger of developing osteoporosis, which is a bigger problem for women than men.
So, hit the gym. Or grab a can of green beans and do some curls while you walk the block. Do whatever is needed to work the upper and lower body. And, don’t worry if you don’t have an hour to devote to it. Owens said research shows that shorter workouts more frequently are more effective than longer periods of exercise less frequently. Good news to those of us trying to be a superwoman.