Too Busy to Diet?
These round-the-clock strategies will help you drop the pounds fast — no matter how crazy your life is.
After my son was born, I managed to lose the 40 pounds of baby weight within a year. The kid weight? It's still hanging around, and Patrick is now 23. You know what "kid weight" is — those pounds you accumulate when your life gets so busy that "air traffic controller" sounds like a laid-back job. You're not just Mom — you're chauffeur, waitress, counselor, cook, homework assistant, medic, and about a thousand other things. And that's before you even suit up for the job that comes with the paycheck.
It's hard to pay attention to what you eat (let alone measure, count calories, and keep a food diary) when your main form of exercise is running errands. So you eat whatever, whenever — and over time, that can add up to major pounds. Yet there are actually simple solutions to busy women's diet dilemmas.
7:00 A.M. You get up early to make sure your kids have a nourishing breakfast, but while they're eating, you're making their lunches or getting ready for work, so you don't have breakfast yourself.
If you had dinner at 6 P.M., you've been fasting for over 12 hours. Even if you don't think you're hungry, your body has another opinion. When you fast or skip meals, you are going to get hungry — and when those pangs hit later on, chances are greater you'll do something you'll regret. "People who skip breakfast are more likely to snack impulsively during the morning," says Joan Salge Blake, R.D., clinical associate professor at Boston University's Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences. "That makes you a prisoner of what's available around you, like the donuts served at your meeting or, if you're running errands, the Danish you find at a convenience store." To avoid donuts and Danish:
• Have breakfast — a real one: Pay attention to the habits of people who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off: Seventy-eight percent of them start the day with breakfast. Those are the findings of the National Weight Control Registry, an ongoing study of successful losers who have dropped 30 pounds or more (70 on average) and kept it off at least a year. Their typical breakfast: cereal and fruit.
• Think big: While you're putting out breakfast for your kids, load up a plate for yourself. Really. A study from Virginia Commonwealth University found that eating a high-protein and carb-rich breakfast helped dieters lose impressive amounts of weight — an average of 23 pounds over four months and then another 17 in the next four months — simply because they didn't get so hungry and overeat during the rest of the day. Their breakfasts sound more like lunch — a sandwich of turkey and cheese on two slices of bread, a cup of milk, an ounce of chocolate, and a protein shake — and totaled 600 calories. But you can try following the spirit of this landmark study: While making your children's lunches, whip up a sandwich for yourself — to eat on the spot. Keep prepared protein shakes in the fridge or take them to your office for breakfast, part two.
• Or try eggs: Researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Saint Louis and Wayne State universities found that men and women who, as part of a low-fat diet, ate a 340-calorie egg breakfast at least five mornings a week for eight weeks experienced a 65 percent greater weight loss than a group who ate a bagel breakfast (same calories). No need to whip out pans and stand over the range, either. Microwave an omelet by mixing two eggs with a little milk and cooking for one to two minutes until almost done; stir, then microwave again until eggs are not at all runny. Sprinkle on some reduced-fat cheese, and you'll get a start on fulfilling your daily calcium quota.
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