Making It Easier To Lose Weight
So far, we have examined the need for healthy eating together with a sample diet plan. Now, let’s look at how lifestyle, exercise and general motivation can be improved to improve diet-compliance and ensure long term weight loss.
Attitude And Lifestyle
In my experience, male dieters tend to be more focused than female dieters. Even so, many men find it difficult to remain on their diet long enough for them to achieve lasting weight reduction. So here are a few tips to make things a little easier.
(1) Focus On Health Not Weight Loss
Instead of focusing on calories and thinking “I must diet”, say to yourself: “I’m improving my eating habits in order to improve my health and quality of life.” You may even motivate yourself by calculating the reduced health insurance costs you will achieve by getting into shape. Also, be aware that while the average American male enjoys a reasonable life-span, up to a decade of this is spent in bad health. Normalizing your weight can significantly reduce this risk of ill-health in old age.
(2) Adapt Your Diet Plan To Suit You
There is no one-size-fits-all diet plan that suits every man. Furthermore, avoiding ALL your favorite foods is not a winning weight loss strategy. As long as your daily eating plan is calorie-controlled (1800-2000 calories) and includes enough nutrition, you should be able to include some occasional treats without adversely affecting your weight loss. So feel free to customize your chosen diet plan or seek a personal plan from a registered dietitian.
(3) Plan Your Dining Out
If you really want to reduce your obesity, be extra-choosy when dining out or ordering take-out food. Invest in a calorie guide and choose lighter meals.
(1) Do not order deep-fried food.
(2) Look for lower-calorie appetizers, such as salads, non-creamy soups, fish platter.
(3) Avoid main meals with sauces. Ask for them “on the side”. Choose plain fish, broiled lean steak, or tomato-based pasta.
(4) Make sure half your plate contains vegetables, without added oil or butter.
(5) For dessert, choose any fresh fruit dish, and if offered cream say No.
If these suggestions are too irksome, you should avoid eating out until you feel more comfortable about making healthy food choices.
(4) Guide To Alcohol
For many obese men, eliminating alcohol from their diet is a total No-No. So here are the facts. Read them and choose accordingly.
To begin with, alcohol contains zero nutrition. In addition, its calorie content is quite high – about 7 calories per gram. Drinking two regular Martinis a day adds up to about 117,000 calories per year – the equivalent of about 33 pounds of body fat. Two glasses of beer a day amounts to nearly as much. Another problem to consider if you are male, is the contribution that alcohol makes to your fat belly. In my experience, overweight males who give up alcohol experience an immediate reduction in their stomach size, which is very good news for their heart and overall metabolism.
(5) Reduce Stress Increase Weight Loss
A major lifestyle improvement is stress reduction or at least better stress management. Due to social pressures, men suffer more than their fair share of stress – both financial and work-related. This is bad news for all men, especially those aged 40 years or over. Because any stress which leads to a feeling that life is out of control, is a major contributor to disordered eating, excessive alcohol intake and disease. Also, excessive stress leads to increased production of the hormone cortisol, which stimulates fat storage around the middle, and leads to an increased risk of heart disease. Moving to a less stressful job, reducing your work schedule, or taking regular physical exercise will help you to normalize your weight and boost your general health. Spending more time with your family is also a great stress reliever. Yes, money and career are important, but not as important as your health. Remember the words of the poet Emily Dickinson:
“Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me.”
(6) Exercise Improves Health And Weight
Men do not find it easy to include regular physical exercise in their daily schedule. More than 1 in 2 of American men do not take enough physical activity, which is unfortunate as the medical benefits of regular exercise are compelling. It is one of the most effective methods of protecting ourselves against serious disease, and securing a good quality of life.
This introduces the basic male Catch-22. In order to achieve a good standard of living for himself and his family, a man typically has to spend extra hours working instead of keeping fit. But by not exercising he incurs a higher risk of: serious disease, a crippling rise in insurance bills, and an illness-prone retirement. No easy choices here, I’m afraid, although clearly the rational decision is to make exercise a higher priority. This is particularly true for men over 40.
If you really want to overcome your obesity, I suggest you first see your doctor for a quick check-up. Assuming all is well, I advise you start with 30 minutes/day of light exercise a day. Do this for 2-3 weeks or until you notice visible improvements such as easier breathing, sleeping and appetite. Then gradually increase the duration and intensity of your training program up to 45 minutes a day. To avoid overstrain, loosen up with stretches at the beginning and end of each workout.