I’m in my 60’s, it is not as easy as it once was to manage the ups and down of body weight, especially the ups. You see, the good things in life that I used to indulge without a second thought, breads, pastries, doughnuts, dooooooooonuts, pies, pizza, etc. are not my friends any more. The simple truth is, it is a lot easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. Sugars and simple starches are taken in, broken down into simpler sugars, entering the blood stream where the body adds insulin and is then stored as fat. Simple and easy. Once stored, fat has to be broken down in a multitude of steps until it finally leaves the body through the lungs as carbon dioxide. Not easy on a good day!
The basic method to control your weight is diet and exercise. Rule #1 is this, throughout the day your body uses a set amount of calories to function. Depending upon your age, weight and level of activity this amount varies. Getting an idea of what your caloric need is is the first step to getting your weight under control. There are many websites that have very simple calculators that will give you a very close calorie number in only a few keystrokes. Do this right now, open a new window, google daily calorie needs, fill in the form, profit.
1. Get your daily calorie number, memorize it for later use.
- Choose US units tab
- Enter age(61), gender(M), height(6’5″), weight(325#), Activity(Basal Metabolic Rate/BMR)
- Hit Calculate and my number is……2397 calories per day to maintain my current weight
- Your turn.
There are 3 components to all of the foods we eat, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. As far as calories are concerned, carbs and protein contain 4 calories per gram, fats have 9 calories per gram. Starting with carbohydrates, there are two basic categories, simple starches and fiber. These names describe their activity in the body rather than anything else, I use them strictly for illustration. Simple starches like cereal grains, breads and sugars are a major concern to us since they contribute directly to the production of body fat.
Rule #2 cut down on simple starches.
For example, don’t eat doughnuts, pastries, cereals and the like first thing in the morning. Juice is bad as well, most juices have a ton of sugar added. If I start my day with a cinnamon roll and a glass of OJ I get: roll, 310 calories, 9 grams of fat, 54 grams of carbs, OJ, 8 oz. Tropicana, 120 calories, 28 grams of carbs. A total of 82 grams of carbs!
Change your morning like this, substitute a couple of eggs and some bacon and a glass of milk instead. 2 eggs, 143 calories, 10 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbs, 2 pieces of bacon, 87 calories, 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, 8 oz. milk, 149 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs. A total of 19 grams of carbs, some difference, huh? Instead of relying on carbs to get you going, the change is almost all protein and fat, the good stuff. 430 calories versus 379 calories but the real story here is how we have backed off on carbs, from 82 to 19.
2. Carbs are bad, fat is good, change your diet for the better.
Now that we had a little bit of diet, let’s talk exercise. For the purpose of this discussion, exercise is anything that you do that you don’t have to do. Keeping it simple, walking is hands down a great way to get yourself going. Having said that, how do you get going? Pick a time, earlier is better, when demand on your personal time is low. Mine is 4-5 a.m., simply because it is before I have to get myself together and get going for the day. Here is how it works, I wake up, get out of bed and immediately put on sweats, t-shirt and my workout shoes. I don’t do a lot but I do it every single day. I start with a 1 mile walk, I don’t worry about time, just relax and keep going. I have a figure 8 loop around two blocks in my neighborhood that is exactly 1 mile and all I have to do to increase my workout is to do an extra lap. Walking in the early morning there are very few cars on the road but you should wear a very bright colored t-shirt or windbreaker anyway so that you can be seen.
3. The hardest part of working out is starting. Get up, get dressed, get going.
Let’s review: We have a number that represents how many calories we need to maintain our weight, we can change the way we eat our first meal and we have a plan to get more active, every day. Is this something that you can do, it sure is. Let’s see what we can do.