New Year, New You

As we drift toward the end of the year and New Years Eve, which traditionally is a time for resolutions for the coming year, the “Food Carnival” is also slowly winding down. Many of us, including myself, will step on the scale and say #%&*#, or...


As we drift toward the end of the year and New Years Eve, which traditionally is a time for resolutions for the coming year, the “Food Carnival” is also slowly winding down. Many of us, including myself, will step on the scale and say #%&*#, or where did those five pounds come from! As I discussed in November, whatever you gained through the holiday season did not occur overnight. Nor should you expect to lose it overnight. Most of us started the holiday eating in November, which seems to go on until New Years Eve. Basically, we all put those extra pounds on over a five- to six-week period. This includes the week before Thanksgiving, which, at least for me, seems to be my pre-carnival warm-up.

For many people, the New Year is the time to start a new workout program to lose the extra weight put on during the holidays, which is evident at most gyms and health clubs as the numbers swell after January first. Or, perhaps, you are just looking to improve your overall health. Many individuals jump into a so-called diet or fad diet in an attempt to lose the extra pounds. However, three to six weeks later, they have given up and often put more weight on. I am going to offer you a three-step process that will get you on your way to losing weight, but also keep you from feeling like you’re on a diet.

Step 1: Track Your Intake

First, take a week and keep track of everything you eat. I mean everything! Also, keep track of how much water you drink (I have a link to a printable form at the bottom of the page). As you are doing this, look at and record the contents of what you are eating — not just the calories, but how much protein, carbohydrates (note the ones listed as sugars separate), and fat (saturated) (see Box A). For a breakdown of how much of each nutrient you should be consuming, refer back to the article from safety and survival week. This also means keeping track of the little, so-called snacks, the chips and dip, and even the couple of beers you might have watching your favorite sporting event. Why? Because it all adds up! Also, how much water do you take in during the day. Ideally, two to three quarts will keep you well hydrated, but adjust according to your activity and weather extremes. On daily basis, add up what you have eaten, that is, total calories, total protein, carbohydrates (sugars separate), and fats (saturated). Then, sit down and tally it for the week.

 

Box A
Grams Calories
1 gram protein 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrates 4 calories
1 gram fat 9 calories
1 gram of alcohol 7 calories

Step 2: Determining Caloric Needs

Now step two, you will need to figure out your daily caloric needs, which is different for men and women, and is adjusted based on age and physical activity. For example, a 30-year-old male (active) may need an intake of 2,900 calories (range 2,400-3,000; USDA, 2005). However, for the last six weeks his intake has looked more like this, roughly 4,000 calories per day, except for Saturday night when it jumped to 6,000. So, he is at a caloric surplus on weekdays of 1,100 calories and 2,000 calories on Saturdays, minus any burned during physical activity. A pound of body fat equates to 3,500 surplus calories. So, in a week he consumed 8,600 calories and, let’s say, burned 1,600 with physical activity. That would still leave a surplus of 7,000 calories, or roughly 2 pounds of fat. Now you are beginning to get the idea. No, all is not lost, and no, it is not impossible to lose the weight. Remember, your caloric intake varies from day to day, that is why you track it for a week. Now let’s look at step three.

Step 3: Deciding Your Diet

This content continues onto the next page...