Midlife Metabolism Boost

In simple terms, metabolism is the chemical action of transforming nutrients in food into energy.

Metabolism is a complex set of chemical reactions between enzymes in your cells and the food you eat. Your metabolism is responsible for using energy or storing that energy as fat cells for use later.

Unfortunately, many of us tend to store more energy than we use, particularly after age 40, and you may notice that you can’t eat everything you used to eat without gaining weight.

These changes usually occur because of a slowing of the metabolic processes that convert food into energy, and a natural slowing of your metabolism combined with less physical activity than when you were younger.

There are ways you can stimulate your metabolism after age 40 to lose weight and maintain your weight. Be selective about what you eat. You could probably eat cheeseburgers, French fries, and ice cream when you were younger without worrying about gaining 10 pounds.

After age 40, you have to be pickier about what you eat. There are foods you can eat that will help stimulate your metabolism without sacrificing the enjoyment of food. Cut back on the junk food and add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. You can get the carbohydrates and protein your body needs for energy and strong muscles and bones by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

Replace highly processed foods, such as white flour and frozen dinners, with fresh, whole foods. Whole foods, or unprocessed foods, make your digestive system work harder to digest and stimulate your metabolism. Your digestion will also improve with the addition of natural fiber and help you feel full so that you eat less.

Balance your diet by taking out foods that make you feel sluggish with foods that energize your body. Replace processed flour, sugars, and other carbohydrates with natural foods that will boost your metabolism. Add green tea and water to replace sugary sodas. Switch potato chips and fatty dips with fresh vegetables and low-fat fresh dips, such as guacamole or low-fat sour cream-based dips. Cut out candy and replace it with sweet, fresh berries and fruits.

Exercise will also help to boost your metabolism. Any form of exercise is good for your body. Start slowly if you have been inactive for a long time and get a complete check-up from your doctor. When you receive the all-clear, start by walking or riding a bike for a few minutes each day. Increase the amount of time you spend exercising by 5 to 10 minutes each week until you can exercise at least 30 minutes each day.

Try some weight lifting or other strength training exercises to increase your muscle mass. Muscle requires more energy than other tissues. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be to provide nutrients to muscle tissue.

Simple changes that include substituting bad foods for healthy foods and exercising will boost your metabolism and keep it working at a peak level throughout your life.

 

Does Walking Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat?

Getting regular exercise is essential if you want to stay fit and healthy. Walking is an ideal form of physical activity that is low risk and won’t cost you a penny. Walking is easy to do and it can be done anywhere. No equipment is needed. You just put on your sneakers and head outside.

You probably think an exercise so simple couldn’t possibly help you lose weight and belly fat. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Walking actually has a ton of really great health benefits. Too many to name in this one article. However, I will focus on a few I know you will love.

Benefits of Walking

Walking helps improve overall health. You don’t have to walk hours a day to reap the numerous health benefits of walking. Just 10-minutes every day can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier. It can also help ward off diseases and improve your overall health and well-being.

According to the American Heart Association, walking can help reduce the risk of both breast and colon cancer. It can also help reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

Walking helps lower blood pressure. According to webmd.com, a Korean study shows that walking just 40 minutes a day lowered blood pressure in people with hypertension. If you don’t have time to do the full 40 minutes, you can break it up into 10-minute sessions throughout the day and reap the same health benefits, according to ACSM guidelines.

A brisk 30-minute walk a day is all it takes to shed pounds, tone your muscles and improve your health. If you haven’t worked out in a while, it’s okay to start off slow. Walking just 5- minutes a day is a great start. As you get stronger, you can increase the time to 10-minutes, 20- minutes, 30-minutes, and so on.

When you walk, or do any type of exercise for that manner, you release what is commonly referred to as feel good hormones. The technical term for these feel good hormones is endorphins. Working up a good sweat causes your body to release endorphins, which will give you an immediate boost in your mood. So, if you’ve had a stressful day at work, go out for a brisk walk and activate those happy hormones.

How Many Calories Can You Burn Walking?

Every person is different and will burn a different number of calories from walking. The number of calories you burn will depend on three main factors: your current weight, the intensity of your walk, and the duration of your walk.

Someone who weighs 150 pounds and walks a normal pace for 60 minutes can burn as much as 250 calories.

A 200-pound person, on the other hand, can burn as much as 330 calories. The average person will burn up to 140 calories per mile walked.

To burn more calories and fat, simply walk more often and/or add in some hills to increase the intensity when you’re physically ready to do so.

You can also add in some strength training during your walk by incorporating exercises like push-ups, lunges, and squats every five minutes. Do each exercise for one minute, then continue walking until you’re ready to do the next group of strength exercises.

Another idea is to bring a resistance band along to target more muscle groups and add more variety to your walking workout.

By combining walking and strength training, you will burn more fat and calories long after you’ve finished exercising.

How to Achieve the Best Results

To get the most out of your walking, you should focus on walking with good posture and letting your arms swing slightly as you walk.

Engage your abdominal muscles with every stride. This will build up your core strength and protect your spine.

To help you stay on track, consider asking a friend or family member to go along with you on your walks.

Purchase a pedometer so you can track your steps throughout the day.

For best results, aim to walk at least 30-minutes a day. However, remember to start off slow if you are just getting back into the swing of things.

As you get stronger, you can increase the amount of time and intensity of your walks.

Want To Lose Weight Faster? Try These Workouts

Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Exercise is one of the most important factors for a healthy lifestyle. If you want to lose weight fast, then it’s essential that you choose the right workouts for the best results. Workouts are also needed to both tone muscle and keep the mind and body healthy.

The idea of ‘working out’ doesn’t have to incorporate a session at the gym. The term ‘workout’ means “a practice or exercise to improve one’s fitness,” or “a session of vigorous physical training.” So any kind of intensive activity can be classed as a workout.

 

Here are some excellent workouts to try if you want to lose weight faster.

  • Walking. This might sound like it is too simple for to be called a ‘workout’, but if you currently have a sedentary lifestyle, then walking can be ideal. Walking has been described as a low-intensity activity to lose weight. It should be possible to burn up to 360 calories in 45 minutes. This means that walking 45 minutes per day a person can lose around a pound a week.
  • Swimming. Swimming is a great way to lose extra pounds. Depending on the type of swimming, a person can burn between 450 and 700 calories an hour. This is a low impact workout as the body isn’t subject to the bumps and strains of lifting weights or running. It’s a good form of exercise for people with other health issues like obesity, arthritis, and asthma.
  • Kettlebells. What are they? Cast iron balls that have a single handle. The interesting aspect of using kettlebells in a workout is that, because the weight isn’t distributed evenly, the body has to work to counterbalance kettlebell’s weight. Kettlebell workouts can burn around 400 calories in about 20 minutes. In terms of cardiovascular benefits, a workout with a kettlebell can be the equivalent to running six miles.
  • Jumping/skipping rope. This shouldn’t be resigned to the school playground. A jumping rope workout can help you burn up to 800 calories in an hour. Just 10 minutes of this type of workout is the same as running a mile. There are more than just cardiovascular benefits to using a jumping rope. It’s also a great way to improve endurance, coordination, and agility. It’s more intensive that other workouts, but this means that you don’t have to do it as long.
  • Squats. Squats burn fat fast and build muscle. Squat exercises use most of the muscles in the body. Why is this important? The more muscle mass a person has, the better his metabolism, and therefore calories will be burned faster. Squat workouts can be used with or without weights, therefore perfect for either home exercising or at the gym.
  • Lunges. These can be performed at home and no equipment is needed. They are great exercises to tone your lower body, but more importantly they great for burning calories. It’s estimated that a person can burn around 275 calories in a 30-minute workout. There are various types of lunges, even ‘explosive lunges.’
  • Bicycling is another low-impact, high-rewards activity for losing weight. Depending on how fast a person cycles and the type of terrain, it is possible to burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour. Cycling can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. For example, you could cycle to work or use the bicycle for leisure time. If that’s not possible, then most gyms have cycles.
  • Running. This is the ‘classic’ workout for losing weight. Running is great for strengthening muscle, improving the cardiovascular system and is generally good for the whole body and mind. It only requires a good pair of running shoes and a music player to help you keep pace. Even better is to use high-intensity interval running. This involves short bursts of running at top speed, then a slowing the pace before the next burst.

5 Ways Exercise Improves Your Emotional Health and Quality of Life

Many people may suffer from mood swings, whether it is from stress, or negative feelings about life and life situations, or possibly sadness from mild depression.

Negative changes in mood can also be a side effect of prescription medication, chronic pain, or even insomnia. If you are someone that needs help with your mood, and wants to feel better, an ideal way to accomplish this is through exercise.

What Exercise Can Do For You

Exercise can help improve your mood because of the changes it causes in your body, self-image, and your mind. How exercise can start to improve your mood will differ depending on what was making you feel not your best.

Here is a list of ways that regular physical activity can work to help you feel more positive about yourself and your life.

  1. If you are depressed: Exercise releases endorphins, which produce feelings of euphoria, well-being, and happiness. Other neurotransmitters, like serotonin, also helps to elevate mood. When you commit to working out on a regular basis, it provides structure to our days and distracts us from negative thoughts. Sometimes all you need is a good 30-minute run or walk in nature to lift your spirits.
  2. If you have poor body image: Regular exercise can offer up results that make you feel like you have accomplished something, instead of being stuck in a sedentary lifestyle. After a while, you may also see changes in your body, which can help your self-esteem and self-worth soar.
  3. If you have too much stress: When you’re fully engaged in a workout, you tend to focus on how your body feels, such as the movement of your muscles, your effort, your pacing, getting air in your lungs, etc. Thus, exercise helps to divert your attention from the stressful thoughts and concerns of the day and is redirected to the present moment. The physical movement gives your stressed out mind a break. Your brain has a chance to clean out all the cluttered thoughts, so you can concentrate on one task. At the end of your workout, you may feel like you’ve been through a meditation session with renewed energy and increased clarity.
  4. If you have trouble sleeping: If you work hard during your exercise session, then it should wear you out enough to allow your body a good night’s rest. You will often find that working up a good sweat can also reduce insomnia by decreasing anxiety, arousal, and stressful thought patterns. Examples of aerobic exercises that are good for sleep include walking, swimming, jogging, dancing, and cycling.
  5. If you have chronic pain: The right type of exercise can help with some of the agony you experience day to day and could alleviate symptoms in some situations. For instance, low-impact exercises, such as yoga, and weight training can be great for people that have joint pain.

How Much Exercise to Do

There is no dispute that exercising is a great thing to do for too many reasons to count, but it isn’t completely obvious how much should be done for best results.

Experts recommend that the average person complete 30 minutes of exercise, 5 times a week. This means you should be doing a 30 minute workout of medium intensity to maximum intensity. Of course, you don’t have to start with 30 minutes.

If you are new to the game, start with 10 minutes of exercising at a time, and keep pushing yourself until you can do the full half hour.

What Types of Exercises Work?

Studies show that lifting weights and aerobic activities help the most when trying to get the full benefits of working out.

Here are some examples:

  • Running or jogging
  • Sports
  • Dancing
  • Elliptical machines
  • Cycling
  • Fitness classes
  • Step aerobics
  • HIIT
  • Tabata
  • Circuit Training
  • Bodyweight exercises
  • Swimming
  • Martial arts
  • Hiking or walking
  • Household chores
  • Any rigorous activity that elevates your heart rate

Once you know the benefits and what to do, exercising doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Even the busiest people should be able to find half an hour a day to devote to their mental health, and as a bonus incentive, regular exercise can help you live a longer and happier life.

Make Exercise and Good Nutrition a Family Affair

Family exercising together.

Have you ever noticed that it’s much easier to stick to a exercise or diet plan if you have someone in the trenches with you? Have you ever been the person eating carrot sticks and celery while watching someone else eat fat-drenched carbs with sugar on top? Why not make exercise and good nutrition a family affair?

Get Rid of the Junk Food

Starting with food, which is often the most difficult part of the willpower bandwagon, if the whole family is working on eating healthy foods, you can just keep those sinful temptations out of the house. Consider avoiding the junk food aisle all together and purchasing healthy alternatives for snacks.

Whole grain crackers, pretzels, yogurt, string cheese, nuts, apples, carrots, celery, kale, berries, bananas and other fruits are healthy alternatives that often cost less in the long run and are chock-full of vitamins, dietary fiber and low in calories and fat. Experts recommend placing the healthy alternatives at eye-level in the cupboards or refrigerator so that the healthy items are the first thing a person sees when they look for a snack.

Look for Healthy Alternatives to Family Favorites

If your whole family is working on good nutrition, you can look for healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes. Enjoy baking? Often substituting pumpkin or applesauce for the butter or oil can work well in muffin, cake or brownie recipes. It replaces the fat, adds flavor and vitamins and is an easy swap.

Use cooking spray instead of high calorie oils in your cooking, and add more green leafy items, more vegetables and fruits to your meals, which can make a big difference as well. Does your family enjoy spaghetti dinners? Consider swapping the heavy pasta for lighter alternatives – spaghetti squash is a vitamin-rich alternative. Eight minutes in the microwave, top with your favorite marinara sauce and you’d hardly know the difference. Yet the difference between them is huge — 31 calories in spaghetti squash versus 158 in spaghetti per serving.

Family Fitness

Why head out to the gym on your own if you can bring the whole family? Often a gym will offer a substantial discount for a whole family membership, and many gyms even provide childcare and play rooms for smaller children. Older children will enjoy shooting baskets, running around the track, and your pre-teens and teens will enjoy learning to use the weight machines and free weights.

Exercise doesn’t have to stop at the gym. Gearing up for a 5K? Why not register the spouse and kids as well? They’re likely to be there to cheer you on anyway, but if you’re all in it together you can prep for it together and eat healthy in preparation together.

Maybe you’re not a runner. Family walks after dinner are a nice way to wind down and hear about each others day. Weekend hikes, skiing, biking or paddling trips are excellent ways to commune with nature and create memories your kids will have with them forever.

What is the best thing about involving the whole family in healthy eating and exercise? Making healthy choices now will make all of you healthier in the long run and will help to establish wonderful fitness and eating habits in your children that they will continue throughout their lives. Studies show that children who are active do better in school, have more confidence and even do better on some tests. With the multitude of benefits for everyone, why not get everyone involved?

 

Why You Need Back Exercises

Most of us these days have a desk job, where we sit and work at the computer for long periods of time, and the demanding schedule makes it very difficult to squeeze in regular exercise. Also, most of us are not in the habit of eating healthy, well-balanced meals. All these factors combined can result in a lot of physical problems, the most common of them being backaches. They start as an uncomfortable knot somewhere along the spine, which is mostly taken care of in the weekend massage appointments. However, ignoring back pains can be risky. Therefore, regular back exercises are advisable.

How to Exercise the Back

There are quite a few effective back strengthening exercises, but the exercises listed below will give you a great start.

Hip Bridge:  This exercise involves lying down on your back with your arms long at your side, your feet directly under your knees, and slightly closer than hip width apart. Next, try to lift your back while making a straight line from shoulder to knees and holding the position for a couple of seconds, and then repeat 8 – 10 times.

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Bird Dog: In this exercise, you have to get on your hands and knees on the floor; part your knees hip width and hands shoulder width. Maintaining the position, stretch the left leg and right hand out and hold the posture for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat with alternating pattern.

bird-dog-

Side Plank:  While lying on your side, use the support of your elbow to lift up your body weight. The upper leg should be directly on top of the lower leg and straighten knees and hips. Hold the position for roughly 30 seconds or longer, if you can. Repeat a few times on alternating sides.

side_plank

 

Lunge:  Keeping your upper body straight, shoulders back and relaxed with core engaged, step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at roughly a 90-degree angle. Your front knee should be directly above your ankle, and make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor. When you push back to the start position, keep your weight in your heels.  Repeat a few times on alternate legs.

 

 

Bodyweight_Walking_Lunge

Benefits of Back Exercises

Back exercises not only help to strengthen your back, but also helps to release the excessive pressure the spine handles due to long hours of sitting on a chair. The stabilizing abdominal muscles and lower back muscles are strengthened, which also helps to improve the balance of muscles, their coordination and stability. A stronger abdomen helps to extend greater support to the spine.

While regular back exercises are definitely beneficial, try to avoid sitting too long by taking mini breaks throughout the day to stretch and take short walks to relieve stress and tension.

 

Photo credit:

Hip bridge exercise from workoutlabs.com

Bird-dog exercise image from  workoutlabs.com

Side plank exercise image from workoutlabs.com

Lunge exercise image from workoutlabs.com

 

 

Live Longer and Age Gracefully

Photo credit: National Cancer Institute [Public domain]

As you grow older, it is very important to understand the changes your body is going through and how to care for it well. The process of aging often involves a number of concerns about how to live longer and age gracefully. Learning useful health tips for 50+ will help you make informed choices as you grow older, so read on to live a healthy life!

Make Healthy Eating a Priority

Aging brings with it a number of potential health problems such as blood sugar irregularities and heart conditions. While some of these problems are genetic and are therefore not possible to avoid completely, it is possible to prevent them from worsening by eating conscientiously. It is important to prioritize healthy eating as you grow older, and maintaining a balanced diet is imperative if one wishes to live longer.

Eat foods that are rich in minerals (especially calcium & magnesium), vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. Focus on vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and lean meats to ensure that your body is well-balanced nutritionally.

Some of the vegetables that you should include in your daily diet are kale, collard greens, squash, spinach, cabbage, and broccoli. Fruits that you should consume include mixed berries, apples, oranges, peaches, pears, cherries, watermelon and grapes.

You should also try to consume more whole grain foods, such as whole wheat, oatmeal and brown rice. Whole grains are known to have very low fat content, and they contain good amounts of protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins that can benefit your health in numerous ways. Other healthy food choices include eggs, cheeses, and yogurts, as these foods can help control hypertension and improve bone health.

When you are over 50, you should eat lean meats, such as turkey and chicken, and fresh fish because they contain less cholesterol and fat. Also, choose heart-friendly oils, such as olive oil, to do your cooking, and be sure to drink plenty of water every day to keep your body well-hydrated.

Exercise will Keep Aging Bones and Joints Healthy

A number of people tend to avoid exercise as they age, as the desire to look fit diminishes. However, the need to incorporate exercise is among the most important health tips for 50+, regardless of whether one wishes to look healthy or not. What is important to keep in mind if one wishes to live longer, is the fact that bones and joints will lose their strength as age catches up, which is why it is important to exercise them on a daily basis.

Get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout; water aerobics, low-impact strength and cardio workouts, such as Pilates or Yoga, or maybe try a simple 30-minute power walk, which is also a fun and refreshing way to stay fit as you age.

Supplements Keep Signs of Aging at Bay

Increasing one’s intake of certain supplements, especially those abundant in antioxidants, will ensure that wrinkles, crow’s feet, and sagging skin will be limited in appearance. Eating healthy and incorporating supplements into one’s diet will ensure that your daily nutritional needs are being adequately met.

Before you choose supplements for yourself, consult your doctor or a nutritionist to find out which kinds of supplements you need and the proper dosage for your body.

Enjoy Rejuvenating Body Therapies

The various little aches and pains that an aging body experiences can be kept at bay thanks to a vast range of therapies, which are available at spas and special centers. A number of treatments are available which increase the skin’s elasticity and restore its natural balance, while others focus on tackling issues pertaining to back, shoulder, and joint problems. One has the option to choose from yoga or aromatherapy based treatments based on personal need. It is a good idea to indulge in these treatments at least once a week in order to reap the full benefit of the processes.

Aging with grace can be an enjoyable experience thanks to the incorporation of a disciplined lifestyle, a balanced diet, the incorporation of healthy supplements, and relaxing therapeutic processes.

 

Top 4 Health Benefits of Mud Runs and Obstacle Courses

My first obstacle mud run, the Makahiki Challenge.

If you enjoy taking on new challenges and pushing your mental and physical capabilities to the next level, then you have to try an obstacle course or a mud run at least one time! Your stamina, agility and heart will be put to the test, as these obstacle mud runs are far from ordinary. While you’re having a blast splashing in A LOT of mud, you will also have many hurdles to overcome like climbing over slippery walls, hauling sand bags, crawling through barriers, pulling heavy tires, and swinging from ropes. Some of the most popular mud runs and obstacle courses are the Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, and the Makahiki Challenge in Hawaii. You can participate in these obstacle challenges alone, with family or friends, or with a team. Just be ready to step out of your comfort zone and muttle through lots of filthy fun obstacles.

Here are some of the top health benefits of running in obstacle courses:

Shape up or ship out! If you’re up for the challenge, these obstacle mud runs will get you in the best shape of your life. You’ll improve your strength, endurance, balance, flexibility and burn a ton of calories! Running on different terrain, lifting, pulling, climbing, crawling, jumping, and swinging through obstacles will definitely improve your overall fitness, and exercise will never be boring again! The key is to never give up and keep challenging yourself. When you’re ready, take it to the next level. Staying fit mentally and physically will impact your life in so many positive ways, plus you’ll have loads of fun along the way.

Get stronger, faster, and go longer. Climbing 12 ft. walls, carrying heavy objects, crawling under barb wires, traversing muddy waters, and holding onto ropes will absolutely test your physical limits, especially your strength and endurance abilities. The more obstacle races you do, the better you’ll get. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to go faster and farther than the previous race. Before you know it, you’ll be an avid obstacle course racer and reaching a level of fitness you never thought was possible.

Better balance and coordination.  Whether you’re scaling up and over walls or trying not to sprain an ankle while carrying a heavy object in the slippery mud, you will find yourself constantly struggling to maintain balance and coordination. Your entire body, including your brain, muscles, and senses are working overtime to make sure you stay on your feet.

Make things happen! When you cross the finish line, it will give you a great sense of accomplishment and inspire you to become a better athlete. Overcoming difficult physical and mental challenges will also give you the confidence to tackle anything that comes your way. You can  participate in training programs for obstacle runs to get you physically and mentally prepared for the next race.  So, challenge yourself to continually improve your overall health and fitness, but don’t forget to have FUN.

 

 

Stay Fit Even When You’re Busy with 10 Minute Fitness Tips

Photo credit: Parker Michael Knight [CC BY 2.0]

During our days filled with work, family, and stress, if there is something that we lack, then that is time. The 24 hours allotted to us by the universe usually do not even allow us enough time to look after ourselves and achieve the life of our dreams. However, our dreams can only be achieved if we look after ourselves well enough. Something as little as 10 minutes a day can help to turn a person into a healthy individual capable of living life to the fullest. Here are a few 10 minute fitness tips that can help busy bodies remain healthy without compromising work time.

10 Minutes to a Beautiful Body – The Truant’s Way

The following tips especially cater to the exercise shy crowd.

  • Belly Dance: Yes, the image of exotic dancers is pleasuring your mind’s eye. A fun way to lose calories, belly dance is highly recommended if one wants to get rid of the belly fat and also increase flexibility.
  • Skipping: Easy workouts are high in demand. The humble skipping rope of childhood comes to the rescue. Among the most economic 10 minute fitness tips, skipping non-stop for 600 seconds gives one a full body workout at a single go.
  • Climb stairs: 600 seconds of climbing and coming down stairs, not leisurely but briskly. Pack in as many rounds of climbing as possible and increase it regularly. It may sound like one of those easy workouts, but it can reduce your weight in days.

10 Minutes to a Beautiful Body – The Fitness Freak’s Way:

If you are no stranger to exercise, then the following 10 minute fitness tips are for you.

  • Push-ups: With numerous variations available, push-ups are excellent for building muscles and increasing strength. Try a variety of push-ups in the 10 minute exercise regimen to break the monotony. With time, increase the number of push-ups per minute.
  • Pull ups: Using one’s own body mass as weight and a fixed horizontal bar above the head, pull ups can be very efficient exercise to build muscle mass and increase strength.
  • Sit ups: Like push-ups, sit ups also boast of variations. It is an ideal way of doing away with the belly fat and strengthening the abdominal muscles.

Increasing workload and sedentary lifestyle make it all the more necessary to exercise regularly to increase blood flow, regulate breathing and reduce weight. Therefore, the slightest chance of 10 minutes should be used as efficiently for exercises as possible.

 

7 Ways to Help Your Overweight Child Lose Weight Safely

Photo credit: Public Domain

If you’re trying to help your overweight child lose weight safely, begin by making gradual lifestyle changes and avoid the popular fad diets. Changes to diet and lifestyle will take time and patience, so take it one step at a time and get the whole family involved in making healthier choices.  Also, you should first talk to your child’s physician or see a nutritionist to obtain guidance or goals on a target weight.

Here is a quick list of 7 healthy suggestions to help your family conquer obesity:

  1. Be a healthy role model. Children will generally pay closer attention to your actions rather than your words, so the very best thing you can do is set a good example by practicing healthy lifestyle habits yourself. Your health and weight directly affect your child’s health and weight. In fact, according to Stanford News, if both parents are overweight the risk of becoming an overweight adult jumps to nearly 50 percent. You can set your kids up for success by lining your refrigerator and pantry with plenty of quick and easy healthy snacks, such as whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese; apple wedges with yogurt; high-fiber granola bars with oats, nuts & seeds; carrots and celery with peanut butter and raisins.
  1. Keep it positive. No one enjoys receiving negative feedback. Talk to your child with compassion and encouragement. Avoid saying negative phrases like ‘you need to lose weight’. Instead, say ‘Let’s be healthy and start taking care of our bodies’. Focus on the foods you can eat, not the foods you should be limiting or cutting out. Avoid saying, ‘don’t eat that.’ Instead, use positive language by saying something like ‘Let’s go pick out fruits and make a fruit salad, and then we can go for a family bike ride.’ This way you are making healthy eating and exercise something that is fun to do.
  1. Make healthy eating a family affair. Try to schedule at least one meal a day that is unhurried and involves the whole family. Don’t make a special ‘diet’ meal for the person who is overweight. Everyone in the family can benefit from eating healthy meals, regardless of weight, and a family that eats together, eats better, according to a recent study in the journal Archives of Family Medicine. Children who report having regular family dinners have healthier diets than their peers who don’t, the study showed.
  1. Eat a well-balanced breakfast. A healthy breakfast should include a carbohydrate, a protein and a little fat, which will keep your children more alert during school. Carbs provide immediate energy, whereas protein and fat help you feel fuller, longer. So, instead of choosing sugary cereals and pastries, have a bowl of high-fiber oatmeal with blueberries & almonds (or almond milk), or whip up some scrambled eggs with a slice of whole-wheat toast. If you’re really running late, grab a yogurt or a bagel with peanut butter or low fat cream cheese. Do not skip breakfast. Studies have shown that weight loss is much more difficult in people who skip breakfast.
  1. Make time for physical activity. Make physical activity a family event. Every night after dinner in the summer, go for a half-hour walk or bike ride, and make it an activity that kids look forward to. If you can afford it, enroll your kids in their favorite dancing or sporting activity. Make exercise fun, not a chore or something they HAVE to do. If your kids are young, they may enjoy hide-and-seek or hopscotch. Kick a soccer ball or play some football with older children.
  1. Watch your portions.  When serving the food, try to portion out meals on dishes and avoid buffet-type or family-style eating. Resist the first temptation to have seconds, then check in with yourself to see if you are really hungry. ChooseMyPlate.gov is a great resource for learning more about portion control for kids.
  1. Don’t say diet. If you put your child on any diet, you might be setting them up for an eating disorder – whether binge eating or closet eating or another type of disorder. Instead, focus on forming healthy lifestyle habits that will eventually result in long-term weight loss and better overall health.