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November, 2015

Notwithstanding the Holidays, Five Fine Ways to Reduce Calories

by Larry

My father inherited from his mom, who inherited it from her...etc., a tendency toward the too easy accumulation of extra pounds. My guess is that somewhere back in our evolutionary tree there was an advantage in a few of our kind putting on supplementary girth, perhaps so they at least might live off the extra fatty tissue during lean times when others in our tribes might be dying of starvation. In any event, this same tendency toward corpulence seems to have been passed along with our father's genes to myself and some of my brothers. As a result, left unchecked my eating habits have often resulted in the accumulation of unhealthy levels of body mass. It took three years and much effort the last time I forced a correction for this and got back to a more ideal weight for my height. Still today, I seem to add weight far more easily than taking it off. In dealing with this process, though, I have come up with a few not terribly onerous means of restoring a healthier target in the face of repeated lapses into overeating. I have no idea if they would benefit anyone else. Just in case, though, here are my favorite five:

  1. While keeping to a normal diet, walk five miles a day (which can naturally be broken up into smaller bits) or engage in equivalent other significant daily exercise (such as dancing, swimming, stair climbing, trampoline jumping, or working out with a group).

  2. One or two days a week, limit oneself to 600-800 calories of food intake, while adhering to a 2000 calorie limit on other days.

  3. Exclude most breads, potatoes, and sweets whenever above one's preferred reading on the scales.

  4. Follow a primarily Mediterranean fitness plan: a. Limit or cut out most processed foods, meats, refined grains, sweetened drinks, ice cream, other added sugars, and trans fats; b. Engage in regular exercise; c. Have a couple helpings a week of fish or other seafood; d. Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, virgin olive oil, and whole grain pasta or bread; e. Eat eggs or cheese only in moderation; f. Use plenty of herbs and spices, such as garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper.

  5. Limit the number of hours a day in which one may dine in, out, or on the fly. Valerie pointed out to me a little while back a scientific article on the benefits of eating during shorter daily intervals, for instance, during any 10-hour period but not before or after those hours. So, if one would begin eating at 8 AM, the ending time would be 6 PM. Apparently, if followed regularly one soon would get used to this regimen, so that he or she would not feel famished during the longer periods when eating is not permitted. Some would find this easier than others, of course, and it might not work, for example, for people with diabetes or digestive system limitations who may need several smaller snacks through the day and evening.

I am finding that a modification of this method works well for me: a 12-hour interval for food intake is permitted, for instance, 8 AM to 8 PM. Considering that heretofore I have often enjoyed late night snacking, this makes a big difference, and I am seeing encouraging results.

I believe that any one of these would be effective by itself if strictly adhered to, but being human we may slip from time to time, for instance when on vacation, out of town, celebrating special occasions with family and friends, and/or when surrounded by calorie-rich confections in the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, or Easter seasons.

Happily, though, we need not stick with just one approach to becoming a bit less pleasingly plump. By mixing and matching among them, there may be found the perfect set of two or three such remedies that together can truly get the job done almost in spite of ourselves.

If none of the above do it for you, why not try another method that seems to work for a lot of folks? It is not very complicated: simply skip one meal everyday, usually breakfast or lunch, whichever one would be the least missed.

Here's to you and your own finding and maintaining of that caloric intake, target weight, and exercise combination with which you can be relatively worry-free, energetic, and heart-healthy!

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