Lose Weight This Summer

Winter is a notoriously difficult time to lose weight. Days are short and nights are long, encouraging you to curl up on the couch with your favorite television program or a good book and a big bag of treats. Days are also cold, meaning you tend to get outdoors less. And when you do go out for a walk, you probably bundle up and try to get it over with as quickly as possible. The lack of natural light during the winter can make many of us depressed, which leads to less activity and more binging on carbs. Lots of us overeat, especially sugar, to help us fill up that unhappy place inside.

But now it is summertime!

Now we have the opposite scenario. Days are long, with plenty of natural light. There is time in the morning, before work, for a long walk or jog. You might even find an early yoga or bootcamp class to get you up and active first thing. Or if you're not a morning person, there is still plenty of time after work to take a class, go for a run, ride your bike, or have a swim. There is no excuse for sitting on the couch this time of the year!

I recently lost about ten pounds. For me, exercise, including plenty of strength training, ensures that when I lose weight, I lose fat and not muscle. Losing weight by just cutting calories can set you up for losing precious muscle mass. This is a big problem because muscle burns fat. The more muscle you lose, the more your metabolism drops, the less energy you burn, so the fewer calories you need to maintain your weight. Therefore, the more weight you lose, the less you are able to eat without gaining back the pounds. Eating plenty of protein while maintaining your strength training will help you keep your muscle mass and avoid this dilemma.

But is exercise really the way to lose weight?

Absolutely not. Changing the way you EAT is the key. Exercise certainly helps, and studies have shown that exercise is crucial for keeping the weight off once you have lost it. But first and foremost you will need to change your diet.

Where to start? I recommend keeping a very detailed food journal. You can simply write everything you eat and drink down in a notebook. Or you can use an app like My Fitness Pal. I like the app because it keeps track of everything: calories, percentages of protein, fat and carbs, important vitamins and minerals, as well as tracking your calories burned through aerobic exercise. (My Fitness Pal has no clue how to deal with exercise that is not aerobic, however.) If you choose to eat low carb, you can adjust the percentages of each macro-nutrient to reflect this. Many people begin to lose weight as soon as they start to track what they eat, without even trying!

Once you have an idea of what you're eating on a daily basis, you can begin to make some small changes. Switch to mustard instead of mayo on your sandwich. Choose a salmon or turkey burger instead of beef. Substitute a serving of fresh green veggies for a starch like potatoes or pasta. Choose water with a slice of lemon instead of soda or juice. Watch your portion size. Eat a little less than normal and then wait twenty minutes. You might find you feel satisfied with less. After eating less for a few weeks, this will feel completely normal.

One more suggestion: ditch the sugar. I know this is a tough one. But if you have a sweet tooth, what that really means is you have an addiction. Breaking the sugar habit will transform so many aspects of your life and health: your moods will stabilize, your skin will improve, your belly fat will disappear, every single system inside your body will function better without refined carbs. And you will be in control! (You know I'm a huge control freak!!!)

Good luck dropping those excess pounds this summer. If you need personalized help with your journey, please don't hesitate to contact me. I can provide one-on-one weight loss coaching in person or long distance. You can do this!