While playing with our dog, Webster, the other day, my husband noticed that he had two lumps above his hips. It just so happened that my four-legged friend had an appointment with the vet, so during that visit, I expressed our concern about his health. The vet immediately knew the diagnosis: “love handles,” she said. Love handles? Was she telling me that my 28 pound, little stuffed-animal-looking companion was chubby? She suggested that I cut back on his food a bit (since exercise would probably stay stable) and to create a safer weight.
After 30 plus years of counseling humans about how to slim down, I was ready to face the puppy pound challenge. Instead of feeding him ¾ of a cup of dry food twice a day, his portion was cut to about 2/3 cup twice a day. The results: he didn’t complain about the subtle change, he lost two pounds, he became more lively, and we had to shop for a new collar! (Just kidding about the last part.).
Why am I sharing this story with you? It’s because my philosophy has always been that the best way to lose weight is to cut back on what you’re already eating. Fad diets that encourage you to eliminate whole food groups like carbs or fat generally end in failure. Studies have shown that those who try to follow a diet that’s closely related to the foods they are accustomed to eating are more likely to succeed at trimming down. Just cut back…you don’t have to cut out: that way you can still enjoy your favorite foods without deprivation. Although there’s nothing magical about trying to lose weight, here are some simple strategies to get you moving in the right direction today:
Eat with smaller plates.
Separate snacks and cold cereal into zipper-locking sandwich bags instead of eating out of the original box or bag.
Ask for an extra (empty) plate when dining in restaurants and when your meal is delivered, put a piece of whatever you ordered on that extra plate and ask the waiter to wrap it up for you to take home.
Don’t serve family style. Take what you’d like and then put the rest of the meal away (in the fridge, freezer, etc.) before you sit down to eat.
Have a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal.
Don’t skip meals.
Weigh yourself every Monday and Friday and chart it on graph paper.
And most importantly, during this process remember that success is not just about how many pounds you lose. You are improving your eating habits for many different reasons…especially to feel more lively!