Spring Slimdown Tips
Colette Heimowitz is Director of Education and Research for Atkins Health and Medical Information Services. Prior to working at The Atkins Center, Heimowitz spent 20 years directing nutrition departments in the offices of complementary doctors such as Leo Galland, MD, Serafina Corsello, MD, and others. She serves on the Board of Advisors at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Now that the weather is getting warmer, and you are shedding layers of clothes, it’s natural to start thinking about new weight-loss goals. It’s easy just to resolve to eat less and exercise more. But a vague statement like that does not always work. It’s important to set goals and a timeline and plan ahead to improve your chances of success. Your goal is not to start on a crazy regimen of militaristic low-carb eating and intense exercise that will be impossible to maintain. Start by committing to an Atkins way of eating that’s realistic. By realistic, I’m referring to eating foods you enjoy while paying attention to the right carbs in the right amounts to allow your body to burn the fat that may have accumulated over the winter months. This will set the stage for an enjoyable way of eating that you can continue to stick with all summer long and beyond, while still achieving results.
Here’s how you can get started:
Do your meals need a makeover? Now that the weather is nicer, you can start grilling outside. What’s more delicious than a perfectly grilled steak seasoned to perfection, accompanied by a generous salad topped with an olive oil or creamy Italian dressing? And speaking of vegetables, it’s time to take advantage of all the spring vegetables coming into season, including artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, snow peas, Swiss chard, radicchio, and more.
Don’t forget to spice up your snacks. Healthy snacks will keep your metabolism moving and your hunger at bay. Keep cut-up fresh vegetables on hand and enjoy with 1 tablespoon of ranch, blue cheese, Italian, or homemade low-carb dressing. Roll up sliced ham, turkey, roast beef, or smoked salmon with asparagus, cucumber, or avocado and spread with aioli, mayo, cream cheese, or egg salad. And speaking of eggs, cook up a batch of hard-boiled eggs for a protein-packed on-the-go snack or as deviled eggs or egg salad. Make snacking even more convenient by keeping some of your favorite flavors of Atkins bars and shakes on hand.
Now that the weather is warmer, it’s time to get moving. If you’re new to exercise, start slowly. Take the dog for a walk, hit the park with your kids, skip the elevator or escalator in favor of the stairs, and park farther from your destination. Keep in mind that exercise is not a requirement of Atkins; you are losing weight because you are changing the way you eat—by burning fat for fuel, instead of carbs. But exercise does have many other health benefits. It can help you sleep better, improve your mood, boost your endurance, make you feel more energetic, and can help manage or even improve a variety of health conditions, including heart disease, depression and diabetes.
Cardiovascular exercise is often considered a mainstay, but studies show that weight training is beneficial as well. It helps reshape your body more efficiently than just cardio because it helps build muscle, which is more metabolically active than fat. This means that you burn more calories, even when you’re not exercising. Weight training also helps increase bone density and maintain joint flexibility. In addition to all these benefits, a regular exercise routine will help you maintain the weight loss you’ve experienced with Atkins. You can squeeze cardio in just by taking a walk or brisk jog, jumping rope, running stairs, or doing an exercise video or using a stair-stepper, stationary bike, or treadmill. As far as weight training, you can buy an inexpensive set of resistance bands and get a full-body workout. Even push-ups and pull-ups are considered weight training because you are using your own body weight.
Remember not to try to make too many drastic changes at once or you may get overwhelmed or lose motivation. Start with your improving your eating habits, slowly add exercise to the mix, and enjoy the results!