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March 1, 2011

Easy Ways to Weight Loss

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.It's March, and by now, New Year's weight loss resolutions have gone by the wayside.  After the harsh winter we've had, you may have even added a pound or two that you'd like to lose before summer arrives. Don't panic. I have some simple strategies for shedding winter weight that don't involve drastic dietary restrictions. 

My suggestions are easy on the brain; there's no need to count calories, carbs, fat, or anything else.  Choose one or more of the following tips to painlessly trim calories all day long.

• Eat breakfast every day.

Research from the Weight Control Registry Council, a program that monitors weight loss and weight maintenance in a group of hundreds of people, shows that most "successful losers" eat breakfast on a daily basis. 

What you eat matters in the morning, as well as how much, of course.
Protein at any meal or snack keeps you fuller for longer.  Eating protein at breakfast seems to set the tone for the day by helping you curb calories later on, however.

In one study, people who ate a 350-calorie egg breakfast, such as two eggs, a slice of whole grain toast, and a glass of Simply Smart Milk , at least five mornings a week for eight weeks, lost 65% more weight than people who ate a bagel breakfast with the same number of calories. 

Balance your breakfast by including whole grains, such as cereal; protein, such as Hood Milk , Hood Cottage Cheese , and Simply Smart Milks ; and fruits or vegetables. 

• Pack your lunch.

Lunch is one of the most overlooked meals of the day. You're busy, and you don't take the time to eat the type of meal you need to keep you full and to prevent munching on highly-refined snacks, such as pretzels and crackers, that only temporarily satisfy you.

If you work outside of the home, always pack a lunch to take with you. Bringing lunch can save hundreds of calories every day. For example, shaving just 200 calories off lunch five days a week for two months results in an 8,000-calorie savings, the equivalent of more than two pounds of body fat. In addition, packing lunch saves money, too.

If you work at home, make a sandwich or salad (don't forget the protein!) for yourself when you prepare your child's lunch. That way, you will always have a healthy meal on hand and have fewer excuses to skip the mid-day meal.

• Prepare for snack attacks.

You will snack, as sure as the sun will shine. Snacking is not a problem, as long as you account for snack calories, and choose foods that you would have at any meal. 

Healthy snacks combine carbohydrate and protein to maximize fullness. Here are some 150-calorie snack ideas that will keep you fuller for longer.

• Small apple and 1 tablespoon peanut butter

• 4 woven wheat crackers and 1/2 cup Hood Fat Free Cottage Cheese

• Small container Greek yogurt

• ½ cup whole grain cereal and 4 ounces Simply Smart Fat Free Milk

• ½ ounce pistachios (in their shell) and 4 ounces Simply Smart Chocolate Fat Free Milk 

• Fill Up on Fluid Before Dinner

Broth-based soups and garden salads pack fluid that can naturally curb your calorie consumption at meals by as much as 10%, according to scientific research.  That may not sound like a lot, but it could amount to 60 fewer calories daily for a 600-calorie dinner.  In two months, you could lose more than a pound just by having soup or salad as an appetizer. 

• Take More Steps

You're active at the gym. Or maybe take a 30-minute walk on a regular basis, but your weight isn't budging.  Take your daily physical activity up a notch.

Invest in a pedometer, and get a baseline level of how much you walk. Add 2,000 steps a day, with a goal of 10,000 steps daily in addition to your other regular physical activity.

• Get The Sleep You Need

Sleep deprivation disturbs your hormone balance and may cause weight gain. To make matters worse, when you stay up late, wake up early, or both, you tend to eat more. Feeling sleepy during the day may be the reason why you reach for something sweet to perk you up, too.

Adults need an average of 7.5 hours of quality sleep every night.  If you get five or six hours a night and start sleeping more, you may whittle your waistline, and feel more energetic, too.

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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