The best way to quit smoking is never to start.
The safest way to treat a heart attack is to prevent one.
The easiest way to lose weight is not to gain it in the first place.
If you are an ex-smoker, you know this is true. Ditto if you ever tried to lose weight.
The idea of weight loss can feel so overwhelming that many give up before they start. I invite you to think of it in a little different way—first . . . just stop gaining.
If you weigh more today than you did a year ago, you are gaining weight. Simple as that. Yes, a few pounds in a year doesn’t seem like much until 5 or 10 years later (read 20 to 40 pounds later). This is how easily it can happen:
When you eat 3500 calories more than the number of calories your body burns, you will gain a pound of fat. No matter the timeframe. Let’s look at a specific example:
A 5’6”, 140-pound woman uses about 1300 calories a day to keep her body functioning (this is the Basal Metabolic Rate--the BMR). If she ate 1800 calories every day, in one week she would gain a pound of fat. In one month, she would gain 4.
Now that would be considered rapid weight gain.
More often than not, people gain weight much more slowly. They may not even realize they are gaining until one day their favorite pants are a little snug (“what did those dry cleaners do?!”)
In order to gain a pound of fat in one month, that same woman would need to eat only 120 calories over her BMR every day. 120 calories! That is just one of the following foods:
The good news and the bad news is the same--It doesn’t take much! Cutting out one of those food items each day would prevent our woman from gaining any more weight. That seems do-able, right?
I love Ben Franklin’s saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the 1700’s he was referring to fire prevention in cities. I take it a bit more literally to mean that if we put in a little effort today, we will save ourselves the more difficult work of taking off a pound of fat tomorrow.
Prevention is a novel concept in weight management circles. If you have been consistently gaining over years or even months then stopping the creeping weight gain is the equivalent to losing.
Let’s start here.
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