By Leslie VandeverSo You’ve noticed that there’s a little more of you recently. Your skinny jeans seem to have shrunk and your favorite skirt is somehow tighter across the hips than you like. Your cheekbones are vanishing and your jawline has softened. Well, you can always buy a new skirt and jeans, and a little make-up, artfully applied, will take care of the rest.
Nevertheless, there are a number of excellent reasons to slim down. To be sure, some of them have to do with both your physical and mental self-image and self-esteem—we all like to be attractive. But the main reason to achieve and maintain your optimum weight has to do with something far more important than how you look: it’s your health. The quality of your health shows.Eating a healthy diet will make your hair lustrous, your eyes sparkle, and your skin soft and glowing. It will also improve how you feel, and that shows in the way you hold your body, the graceful way you move and puts a lightness and spring in your step. Losing weight and keeping it off requires a bit of effort, but you can do it. How? It’s all a matter of choice: what and how much you’ll eat, for instance. And choosing both to exercise and what form that exercise will take. Don’t choose to try a fad diet, though. You’ll fail. Oh, there’s no doubt that fad diets can make you lose weight quickly, and some are quite easy. The trouble is they often lack the calories and nutrition your body absolutely needs to be healthy. They’re also almost impossible to stick to. On a fad diet, you may lose weight quickly to start, but as your body adjusts to the drastic dietary changes you’ve made, your metabolism slows way down—and so does the weight loss. It’s hard to keep depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy when there’s so little reward, so after a while, you give the whole thing up. And so the weight you lost goes right back on. Worse, it usually brings some extra along with it.
The smart, healthy way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat a nutritious, balanced diet—and not just for a short time. Make it a positive choice, a positive change that you can easily maintain now and for the rest of your life. Your weight loss will be slow—1/2 to 2 pounds per week—but it will be much easier to keep it off for good. Choose to eat large helpings of vegetables. Eat smaller helpings of lean meat, fish, and eggs, nuts, beans, and legumes, and low-fat dairy foods. Use small amounts of healthy fats like olive oil and canola oil for cooking and dressings, and limited amounts of whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, and brown rice. Avoid sugary beverages, including fruit juices. Eat real fruit instead. And leave sugary snacks and desserts just for special occasions or as very rare treats. The benefits of such a healthy diet are many. Along with feeling and looking better—and thinner—you’ll greatly reduce your risk for developing some diet-related diseases, like type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Moderate exercise—30 minutes a day, five days a week—along with a healthy diet will make your bones and muscles—including your heart—strong. Together, they’ll even improve your brain power. Live your life as a strong, healthy, vital human being. It’s your choice.
Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.
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