Ruby Bayan is a freelance writer who likes to share her simple joys.
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Reader Comments

I like the way you organize your information. It's easy to read and very informative. Thanks!
- lmkenney
May 28, 2000

Great tips and as always well written.
- wells
May 30, 2000

Thank you. Excellent, Ruby. You give the best advice, I always say. :)
- doris_lane_jerseycoa
May 31, 2000

Took a break from my writing and saw your article. Glad I did, good advice for this body. Thanks!
- Wendy Thorne
August 28, 2000

Thanks, Ruby. This is excellent and very sensible advice--now if I could only follow it.
- marlene mccarty
September 11, 2000

Simple Strategies to Keep Your Weight Down
by Ruby Bayan

Media bombards us with reminders that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are the primary culprits of heart disease, depression, and a shortened life span. Every other lifestyle magazine features articles on how to lose those potentially fatal extra pounds, and all the health publications shout out the benefits of not only the proper diet and a positive outlook, but more importantly, staying within your ideal weight.

A few lucky individuals were born with good metabolism and hormonal balance -- they can eat anything and still maintain their slim form and proportionate weight. Some have the genetically-bestowed energy to stay active all day, burning enough calories to stay firm and trim.

Lucky, too, are those who were born in health-conducive cultures or environments (like the fish-mushroom-and-tofu-eating Japanese or the mountainous-terrain-climbing Austrians) -- somehow their natural lifestyles already take care of ensuring proper diet, good exercise, and long life.

But what about us, regular people? We gain weight at the sight of food, we work seated in office cubicles all day, our only aerobic activity is climbing a dozen steps to the upstairs bedroom, and the only walking we do (most of us don't have dogs) is from the car to the couch. What can we do to burn calories and keep our weight down?

Fortunately, our dedicated dieticians, nutritionists, and fitness experts have come up with a few simple strategies -- to help maintain our ideal weight and maybe even shed off those pounds that have miraculously managed to tip the scale.

1. Build muscle to burn fat. Strength training, rather than aerobic exercise, is now becoming a more logical solution to keeping weight gain in check. Muscles burn calories even while you sleep. For every pound of muscle you add to your physique, you burn an average of 50 calories a day just to maintain these muscles. Strength training makes the muscles demand energy which makes the body burn its fat reserves. Leg and thigh muscles, being the most massive group, burn the most calories per workout session.

2. Keep moving. Researches at the Stanford University and the Mayo Clinic have determined that fidgeting burns extra calories. Moving about and changing positions, like crossing and un-crossing your legs, stretching, and just plain "restless" movements, can actually help you lose weight. So, to complement your regular workout, stay active and avoid falling into the habit of sitting in the couch and using your remote control to operate every gadget in the room. House chores are good calorie burners -- even small tasks like setting the table, straightening the books on the shelves, and picking up after the kids. Every little burn helps.

3. Walk like you have a purpose. For years, fitness experts have been emphasizing the health benefits of walking. They say get a dog so you're forced to take a stroll daily; or park at the far end of the parking lot so you'll need to walk a little to and from your car. Now, the experts are saying we should try to burn more calories from walking by picking up our step. Walk tall and add a little spring to your stride. Take each walking opportunity to the hilt -- burn as much energy as you can. When you walk down the office corridor, walk like you have a purpose. You do -- you want to burn more calories!

4. Eat more often to keep your blood-sugar levels up. When your body starts to tell you that you're hungry, eat. When you start to feel that you're not hungry anymore, stop. When we allow ourselves to go too hungry, our blood-sugar levels drop, we get lethargic and craving, and we end up bingeing. More and more dieticians are teaching us to eat five to six "small meals" (of complex carbohydrates with a little protein and fat) daily. This way we even out our calorie intake, blood sugar levels, and all-day energy.

5. Make dinner your lightest meal. Experts are asking us this rhetorical question: "Why should you eat so much when you're already going to sleep?" The orientation they want us to take is: we eat to fuel ourselves for the tasks we need to do. That means, we must put the high-calorie meal earlier in the day, for the energy we require to perform our daily activities. Dinner may be the best time to sit down and have a feast -- but unfortunately, there's no time to burn the calories.

Five simple strategies that obviously make sense. Strength training, fidgeting, walking, small but frequent meals, and a light dinner -- all leading to calorie burn and weight loss. Why don't you try them and find out?

[First published by WhOOdoo.com, 2000; Also published by PowerhouseGym.com Fitness News, Sept 2001]

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