When it comes to your health, how much you weigh matters. Carrying extra weight increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer. It also decreases your lifespan. If you want to live a long, healthy life, eating healthy and exercising can help you get to a healthy weight and prevent you from becoming an obesity statistic. Making changes to your daily routine to reach your health goals may seem difficult, but the effort is most certainly worth the result.
Make an appointment with your doctor. Before you start any weight loss and exercise plan you must first consult with your doctor. A physical exam can help determine your current health status and weight loss goals. Plus, your doctor can offer you advice on how to best approach your diet and exercise plan.
Use smaller plates. When you want to lose weight you need to limit your calorie intake. Switching from large plates to smaller plates is an easy way to cut calories and control portions.
Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, which can help you feel full on fewer calories. Fruits and vegetables are also chock full of vitamins and minerals that help your body fight disease.
Eat more whole grains. One-quarter of your plate should be filled with grains, most or all of which should be whole grains. Whole grains are high in fiber and a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals your body needs for good health. Whole grains are also an excellent source of carbohydrates, your body's preferred source of energy.
Emphasize lean sources of protein. White-meat poultry, strip steak, pork chops and seafood are examples of lean cuts of meat; and beans, peas and soy foods are examples of lean vegetarian options. To vary your nutrient intake, replace some of your meat proteins with non-meat choices a few times a week. Most Americans eat more protein than they need.
Boost calcium intake. Calcium is important for bone health. Low-fat dairy products, greens and beans are all good sources of calcium.
Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day five days a week at a moderate intensity. Moderate-intensity exercise gets your heart rate up and makes you break a sweat. Good choices include brisk walking, bike riding and doubles tennis.
Strengthen your muscles twice a week with muscle-building activities to improve lean body mass and endurance. Recommended activities include lifting weights; body weight exercises such as pushups, situps and squats; and yoga.
Tips & Warnings
- Don't forget to drink water. Thirst is sometimes confused for hunger. If you're feeling hungry, drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes before eating a meal. Dehydration also zaps energy levels, which can make exercise feel like a chore.
- If you think you're going to skip exercise because of lack of time, increase your intensity. You can kick your walk up to a jog and cut your time in half.
- If you've never exercised, or it has been a long time, don't push yourself. Start out slowly and work your way up to a moderate intensity.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Healthy Weight
- Helpguide.org: Healthy Eating: Easy Tips for Planning a Healthy Diet & Sticking to It
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: MyPlate Food Groups
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Physical Activity and Your Heart
- Photo Credit Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images