Warm weather and summer are right around the corner and you know what that means - bathing suits.
And the big question I've been mulling is, "How on earth am I going to squeeze this year's bottom into last year's swimsuit?"
Many of us really do tend to put on a few pounds over holidays.
And if you, like me, could stand to flush out a couple, here's a quick-and-easy, 5-point plan that can help you. Remember to use common sense when you change your diet or fitness regimen in any significant way. Talk things over with a healthcare professional you trust.
See you at the pool!
1. Eat breakfast every day. A sensible and balanced breakfast is mandatory if you want to lose weight and keep it off.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found in a study that men, women and children who miss breakfast are five times more likely to get fat and stay fat.
Starting your day with low-fat proteins (an egg) with high-fiber carbohydrates (whole wheat or multi-grain toast), and a little healthy fat (a teaspoon of butter for your toast), you jump-start your metabolism for a high-energy, fat-burning day.
2. Get a good night's sleep. When you snooze fewer than seven hours a day, your carb-burning metabolism misfires, blood sugar levels rise, and the body instantly starts storing that sugar as fat, even if you haven't overeaten.
3. Be nutty. Purdue University found in a study that a quarter-cup of almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds eaten as a mid-morning snack and then once again after dinner curbs appetite and keeps you feeling full for up to 90 minutes.
Compare that to potato chips and other junk snacks that increase your appetite by causing swings in your blood sugar levels.
The old ad slogan, "Bet you can't eat JUST ONE" is right - nobody can eat just a few potato chips. We all want the whole bag.
The moral of the story? Make nuts a healthful part of your food plan.
4. Supplements can help. Numerous herbs and supplements really can help curb cravings and suppress appetite but you are well advised to steer clear of herbal stimulants that can raise blood pressure and cause other problems ranging from nervous tension and "the jitters" to heart disturbances and more.
A trace element - chromium picolinate - after meals helps balance blood sugar levels, according to serious and respected USDA research. Blood sugar imbalances, of course, can contribute to habitual over-eating and weight gain.
Research also shows that non-stimulative herbs such as gymnema sylvestre, nopal cactus, and even ordinary cinnamon may help level out blood sugar levels as well. The appetite-suppressing African herb "hoodia gordonii" is winning over a lot of true believers since Oprah Winfrey touted it on her show. Pharmicists or your doctor can help you decide which supplements safe for you and won't interfere with any prescription medications you might be taking.
5. Don't forget delicious deserts. You heard right - desserts. One cup of sweet and delicious cooked fruit after a healthful dinner is not only a taste treat, it's a surefire way to curb sugar cravings.
Try this recipe: Fill a glass casserole dish suitable for baking with fresh or frozen blackberries or blueberries and unsweetened canned peaches.
Sprinkle a handful of oats on top, cover with foil, pop in an oven preheated to 350 and bake for one hour.
See I told you these weight-control tips were easy. And they really will help you flush out winter flab in time for summer.
Susan Ambrosino is a health writer and friend of the Herald-Guide.