Dear Fun & Fit: My friend Patti and I have pledged to lose 50 pounds between us by March! As motivation, we have submitted to present about our success at a conference in March! Yikes! Now we REALLY have to do it! We are both caregivers for our parents who live with us. So we need tips and ideas to get fit and lose weight between our working and caregiving moments. Help!! Amy
Good news Amy – you and Patti are already doing a number of things that will help you reach your goal. Take a look at these 5 action items:
1. Set a realistic goal that includes mini-goals
You don’t say how the 50 pounds are split, so let’s assume 25 each. You have seven months to lose 25 pounds, which means you have to drop just under 4 pounds a month. People who have been successful at losing and keeping weight off lose no more than 1.5 – 2 pounds per week. You only need to shed 1 pound a week. Make that your mini-goal; it’s less daunting than focusing on 25 pounds.
Because you have until March, you can choose low, moderate or high intensity cardio. If you are caregivers for your parents, we think you are probably past 40, which means you may have knee or hip joint issues. High intensity is the most time-saving method for burning calories, yet you may not wish to do high impact. The link to our post on losing weight via high intensity, lower impact activity includes a video. You two will also need to add some strength training (hand weights, tubes or your own body weight work great). The combination of cardio movement and resistance training will have you burning calories at a higher rate even when you’re finally sleeping at the end of your very long days! You might like to take a look at this post from a woman who wanted to lose 100 pounds. The focus is on choosing movement you enjoy.
3. Create a record
Successful “losers” write things down, especially their goals and food intake. You’ve already publicly stated your goal, so you’re halfway through this one. A fun fit fact: just the act of writing down your food intake can cause you to lose weight! How? The mind (whooooo eeeee oooo)! If you tell yourself that you’re just taking stock, not judging or eliminating, it’s easier to make an honest, complete record. And you don’t get stuck in that mental loop of wanting what you think you “can’t” have. Yet once it’s written down, you unconsciously will find yourself dropping some of the unhelpful foods out of your daily intake.
4. Change your diet in increments
Again, the mind is the leader in weight loss, as well as the saboteur. You cannot go from 1 – 10 without going through 2, 3, 4… Drastic changes or denials don’t lead to success. Figure out what the increments look like. Do you switch out one soda a day for water? Do you cut one high-calorie, low nutrient food in half before eating it? Change the mental, “I can’t have this,” to “I choose to not eat this because it gets in my way.” Another fun fit fact: when you find yourself about to eat something that will not help you reach your goal, give yourself permission to eat it…in 5 minutes. In five minutes you’ll either eat it or you will have moved on to something else. But telling yourself “Yes” instead of “No” tricks your brain into losing interest. We have some other incremental tips in this post about overeating at the holidays.
5. Get time to work with, not against you
As women who work and provide care, your time is probably precious and quite limited. Maybe you can’t go to an hour-long group fitness class (our favorite), but can you go for a 3 minute walk several times a day? It doesn’t have to be outside – pacing your kitchen for 3 minutes works just as well. Do you have stairs? That is the #1 weight loss tool in your home. Add in an extra set up and down a few times daily. Pace when you’re on the phone. Fidget when you are seated. When you go to sit down, pause just before your seat hits the seat, stand back up, then sit down. That one extra squat each time you go to sit adds up to thousands of squats, which adds up to calories burned. Circle your car 3 times before you get in to drive to work. You get the idea. I, Alexandra, like to crank up the Led Zeppelin songs and dance while I sweep and iron. What works for you?
6. Bonus Tip – Team up with a friend
Boom. You have this one down, done and did!! Whether you team up in person or via text messages, having a support system is key. Schedule regular accountability check-ins with each other to stay on track.
Math Problem: Working + Caregiving = Stress. Stress can actually make you gain weight. Within the demands of your life, choose some actions that help you relax. This can be as quick and simple as clenching your fists as tightly as possible for 5 seconds, then completely relaxing your hands. You cannot physiologically be stressed and relaxed simultaneously.
Let us know what works for you and Patti as you lose, then maintain your weight. We love to share good tips and successes.
Once you reach your goal, read this post about maintaining weight loss. The steps are different, yet the mind is still in charge.
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Identical twins and fitness pros Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA have been in the fitness industry for over 30 years. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write the blog FunAndFit.org, which focuses on healthy aging for Boom-Chicka-Boomers! As freelance writers, they combine their fitness and educational knowledge (Alexandra - Counseling; Kymberly - English) to share tips for aging actively.
They can be found at their website funandfit.org