By Mike DuBose with Blake DuBose
How many of you also have a pesky ghost who creeps in and shrinks your clothes while you’re sleeping? Many of us start to gain a few pounds each year as we age and our metabolism changes. I’m no exception—at six feet and four inches tall, I weighed just 160 pounds in college. At age 61, however, I found myself at 242 pounds! Finally, frustrated with my 42-inch waistline and concerned about the consequences to my health, I had enough! I finally buckled down in October 2011 and resolved to do something I had been talking about for 15 years: lose weight. Now, I weigh 207 pounds and fit comfortably into 38-inch-waist pants. In addition to the health benefits, I have never received so many compliments! Here are some tips that worked for me:
• Before beginning any diet or exercise regimen, obtain a comprehensive medical exam (I highly recommend Dr. Surb Guram, who can be reached at 803-749-1111). Your doctor can tell you whether you have any health issues (such as an imbalanced thyroid) that may be causing you to gain weight.
• Thoroughly research any medications you take to see if they can cause hunger or weight gain. I was recently prescribed a medication that caused me to put on seven pounds in one week! Drugs.com and webmd.com are great resources that can identify adverse prescription side effects.
• Consider your family history. If you are genetically prone to be overweight, the fight may be tougher, but don’t lose hope!
• Set a serious goal to lose one pound per week—that’s it! You must sincerely believe that you can and will reach your objective. It may take two weeks to lose your first pound, but don’t get discouraged.
• Play weight loss like a game. There’s no single diet or approach that works best; keep trying until you find one that’s right for you.
• Don’t lose too much weight too fast. Rapid weight loss makes the brain think Starvation! and it sends the body signals to eat. Be patient!
• Consult a nutritionist or take a nutrition class. Lexington Medical Center’s excellent one-hour class changed my life!
• Read food labels and avoid foods high in calories, carbohydrates, and sodium. As former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler reported in 2011, The food industry works hard to create high calorie foods with the most addictive possible combination of intense flavor. For example, according to a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, high fructose corn syrup is not only full of empty calories, but it also makes you hungry.
• You need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories each day to lose one pound per week, so look for small ways that you can cut calories daily (i.e., using mustard versus mayonnaise cuts 100 calories per sandwich). I love cheese and crackers, so I switched to 2% milk sharp cheddar, and it’s good! I pair it with Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuit crackers, which are lower in carbohydrates and calories and high in fiber, for a delicious snack.
• Eat more fiber, which is the good guy of foods, slowing digestion, making you feel full, and helping protect you from colon cancer and heart disease. Replace caloric junk with high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
• Eat four small servings of fruit each day. We mix berries, grapes, and other kinds of fruit in a big bowl and eat reasonable portions each day instead of high-calorie desserts. Adding a little NutraSweet really turns up the flavor.
• Eat more home-cooked vegetables, especially those grilled or sautéed in a little olive oil. They are high in fiber and vitamins, low in calories, and add volume to the stomach, which makes you feel fuller.
• Reduce your intake of high-carbohydrate foods like bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice. In a 2012 National Institute of Health study, individuals who followed a low-carbohydrate diet burned 300 calories more during exercise and were more successful in losing weight than those on a low-fat-diet! For many people, counting carbohydrates can be even more beneficial than counting calories. However, don’t lean too heavily on red meat in an attempt to cut carbs. Lean proteins like fish, chicken, and even lean cuts of pork are better choices.
• Following Dr. Oz’s recommendations, eat small snacks of healthy foods (like blueberries) throughout the day.
• Chew your food slowly, enjoying every bite. It’s amazing how much better food tastes—and how much longer it lasts—if you don’t shovel it in!
• Increase your daily fluid intake. Water flushes toxins from the body and makes you feel fuller. Other liquids can count toward your six-to-eight-glass-per-day goal, but water should be the majority.
• If you drink alcohol, stick with wines, which have less than one carbohydrate per glass. One glass of wine per day has been shown to have health benefits! Hard liquor is also low in carbohydrates, but use diet mixers. Beer contains significant amounts of carbohydrates, so beware!
• Don’t eat out as often, especially at fast food restaurants. There are few things that taste better to me than a juicy cheeseburger, but I was astonished to learn how much saturated fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and calories they contain! If you eat out, go for the non-fried foods.
• Don’t eat until your stomach feels full. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain to turn off hunger, so when you think you’ve eaten enough, put the fork down and wait. Repeat to yourself, I’m full (believe me, it works!). At the beginning of a meal, drink water and eat plenty of healthy, low-calorie, high fiber, and low-carb foods like salads so your stomach lining feels the fullness.
• Avoid sugary sodas and fruit juices, which have been linked by numerous studies to America’s soaring obesity rates. According to Richard Mattes, Ph.D., professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, we don’t feel as full when drinking calories as we do when we eat an equal calories’ worth of solid food.
• Watch the salt. The body needs sodium, but not as much as most people consume. As an alternative, Mrs. Dash comes in a variety of flavors and is salt-free.
• Use salad dressings sparingly. I used to drench salads with 1,000 calories of dressing! If you mix a little of your favorite dressing with lower-calorie vinaigrette, it tastes great! Most restaurants offer reduced-fat options like light ranch. Many sauces are also loaded with bad stuff. Ask for them on the side so you can regulate how much you consume.
• At work, don’t box yourself into a day filled with meetings where you don’t have time for lunch. If you must eat at your desk, close your door, don’t accept any calls, and cut off your phone and e-mail notifications so you can have a slow, restful meal.
• Don’t feel guilty about splurging a little—if your diet is boring, you’ll be tempted to throw it out the window! I still eat Kroger fried chicken cooked in peanut oil every Sunday; however, I pair it with fruit and eat light the rest of the day.
• Get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least five days per week. You cannot target problem areas, but the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will burn.
• I recently broke my toe and could not exercise for five weeks. I kept the weight off by carefully watching my food intake. However, the diet-exercise combination works best!
• You don’t have to join an expensive gym—there are plenty of ways to get fit without them. My wife, Debra, and I take daily walks outside on nice days and in the mall during inclement weather. In addition to burning calories, it’s a great time to chat.
• If you are on vacation, step up your exercise to counteract any rich foods you may be eating!
• Promote overall good health by getting a solid night’s sleep and taking breaks from work throughout the day.
• Weigh yourself first thing every morning (we use Salter electronic scales with large numbers from Bed, Bath & Beyond). To avoid getting discouraged, don’t weigh at night, while wearing clothes, or after a big trip!
• Cut your electronics time. We’re all guilty, but research shows that we burn few calories sitting in front of computer and TV screens.
• Assess your happiness levels. We often overeat because of unhappiness, depression, grief, anger, resentment, stress, and anxiety. If you’re unhappy, it’s ok to seek professional counseling—in fact, it’s often the only way to move on from unresolved conflicts.
• If you tend to stress-eat, review all the activities, responsibilities, and other stressors in your life and eliminate as many as possible. If you dislike your job or work environment, look for a better one—even if it means less money! Exercise also helps decrease stress.
• Don’t live your entire life for others! Set aside some fun time for yourself each week.
• If you apply these tips and still find it difficult to lose weight, consider a physician-supervised weight loss program. Other options include Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, which have their own brands of food and offer structure that works well for some people.
• Hypnosis can address a wide variety of areas that contribute to weight gain, such as anxiety, stress, and overeating. Dr. Fredric Mau of Watermark Hypnosis in Columbia, SC is excellent.
• It’s normal for your weight to fluctuate slightly each day, so don’t obsess over it!
• Once you have reached your desired weight, level off your diet and enjoy life! Some folks become obsessive-compulsive and lose too much only to gain it back. However, set a danger zone. If I reach 210-212 pounds, I know that it’s time to cut calories/carbohydrates and exercise more, and if I drop to 205, I splurge some to maintain a balance.
• If you are spiritual, pray for good health—after all, if God created the universe, surely He can help you lose a few pounds!
The bottom line: Healthy, sustainable weight loss comes as a result of many small changes that become a permanent lifestyle. If I can do it, so can you. See you at the fried chicken counter!
Blake DuBose graduated from Newberry College School of Business and is president of DuBose Web Group. View our published articles at www.duboseweb.com.
Mike DuBose has been in business since 1981, authored The Art of Building a Great Business, and is a field instructor with USC’s graduate school. He is the servant owner of three debt-free corporations, including Columbia Conference Center, Research Associates, and The Evaluation Group. Visit his nonprofit website www.mikedubose.com.
Katie Beck serves as Director of Communications for the DuBose family of companies. She graduated from the USC School of Journalism and Honors College.