Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Calories: A Primer

Happy New Year!

A lot of people will begin the year with a pledge to get in shape and improve their health.

Those are worthy goals — but ones that, from the fitness guru messages, workout DVDs and self-help and health books on the shelves, appear to be harder than it should be.

So let's start the year with a simple formula: calories = weight. It doesn't matter whether your calories come from sausage, bread, watermelon or latte after latte. Calories equal weight. If you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight.

Cut your calories, you lose weight.

Boost your metabolism with exercise, burn more calories and feel better, and lose weight.

Now, having said that, realize that not all food is equal. Some food has a higher nutritional value than other food. The key is to eat food with a higher nutritional density: you can consume fewer calories while still ingesting the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. Make sure your plate has a good balance of color and texture.

Don't diet! "Diet" translates to "deprivation." Instead, increase the amount of healthy food you eat every day and decrease the food with little nutritional value — but don't deny yourself your favorite treats. Rather, allow yourself a taste from time to time. You don't have to have a sundae every night, but a spoonful or small scoop of strawberry ice cream (or better: ice cream with fresh strawberries, or frozen yogurt with fruit) a couple of times a week will curb your cravings and won't cost you all that much.

If you're really serious, keep a food diary and write down every single thing you eat — including the sugar in your coffee and those lemon drops you mindlessly consume every time you pass your co-worker's desk to get to the copy room. Once you see what you're really eating, you'll see how to adjust your food consumption accordingly.

So, go take care of yourself. Be honest with yourself, love yourself and put your health first this year. You deserve it.

- Chris

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