Learn to Handle Stress

Personal growth comes from making wise choices every day.

I don’t mention this often, but it’s important to handle stress in healthy ways in order to lose weight and maintain it at a healthy level. I am one of those persons who would, if I let myself, turn to food for comfort when life becomes stressful. In addition to that, I tend to want to eat when I’m bored. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and feel bored. I’m not making a joke, it’s an odd quirk. As long as I’m aware of it, I can go back to sleep without snacking.

I digress, let’s go back to handling stress. Life will always be stressful, and when that changes, it may only be to become more stressful. This is why we must find healthy ways to deal with it that don’t involve eating. Vigorous walking is one of my favorite things. It works for me, and it burns calories. it’s a perfect solution. Whatever method you choose to handle stress, it needs to be enjoyable, and something you can do consistently. When life drops a bomb on me, I go for a walk, rather than eating or drinking. That reminds me: alcohol offers only empty calories, and it’s addicting. It’s not a solution. Leave it behind as a part of your lifestyle change. I know this last point will be unpopular, but I stand by it as part of a healthy overhaul of one’s daily routine. Personal growth comes from making wise choices every day.

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Exercise apparel improves attitude and results

Nadia wearing yoga pants and leggings, working out on her favorite exercise bicycleFeeling good physically spills over into all aspects of our lives, and as a bonus, lifts our spirits. When I do my morning exercises in old pajamas, my efforts are okay, don’t get me wrong (and there are plenty of times I do just that). But when I invest the extra minute it takes to put on something nicer than pajamas or old clothes (yoga pants, a contrasting shirt, some colorful leg warmers or some other fun accessory), suddenly I’m emotionally invested in my routine. It is then I work out a little longer and a little harder. Are my results better? Yes, I always feel better than usual after a workout I’ve approached with enthusiasm, and preparation.

Healthier lifestyle is good for men too

Chuck-before-after-Febr-2013-webIt took 5 years before my husband, Chuck, was ready to follow my lead and adopt a healthier lifestyle, but look at him now. I’m so proud. What’s even better, he is loving how he feels. He’s been at it a little over a year, making changes in his food and drink, replacing bad choices with good ones. It seemed effortless and one day he looked at himself in the mirror and was surprised to see himself so much slimmer and healthier looking. About two months ago, he added exercise to his routine, and now I can barely keep up with him. How much has he lost? 45 pounds. He started at age 70. It’s never too late.

The 2,000 calorie per day misconception for women and how it messes up your diet

THE 2,000 CALORIE PER DAY MISCONCEPTION FOR WOMEN: How It Messes Up Your Diet, And How To Calculate What Your True Calorie Intake Should Be

For the purpose of this argument, I’m referring to women and the USDA recommended calorie guidelines. We tend to forget that they are simply guidelines. Other factors that can affect your daily calorie needs are age, gender, and activity level. You can find dozens of websites that will help you zero in on your specific calorie needs but I’ve included a workable outline here for women using myself as an example.

I am a petite, mature woman, 5′ 2” tall with small bones. My calorie requirements are lower than those of a younger, taller woman with, let’s say a medium to large frame, yet we seem to focus on that nebulous number, 2,000 calories across the board for  all women (2,500 for men).

Question: I know I’ve been eating around 2,000 calories a day so why is it that I’ve gained so much weight?

Answer: If you continue to eat 2,000 calories per day with your sedentary lifestyle, you will soon weigh 200 pounds, I can guarantee it. You are taking in more calories than you are burning each day.

Here is a formula to calculate what your calorie intake should be:

  • If you are sedentary: you work a desk job and get little or no additional exercise—multiply your desired weight (the weight you want to be) times the number 10. This will give you the number of calories you need each day to maintain that goal weight once it is achieved. Since you currently weigh more than that, eating only the number of calories needed to maintain a lower weight will, steadfastly result in a loss of weight, until balance is achieved.
  • If you are lightly active: you get some exercise only 1-3 days per week and it’s not strenuous—multiply your desired weight by 13.
  • If you are moderately active: you get some exercise on weekends or about 10-15 (up to 30) minutes 3-5 days a week—multiply your desired weight times the number 15.
  • If you get vigorous exercise regularly: you have a physically demanding job or you exercise 60 minutes 5-7 days a week—multiply your desired weight times 17.
  • The highest level of fitness activity, that of an experienced athlete, uses a multiplication of your desired weight times 19.

The preceding information is a guideline only, and for general purposes, one of the first four levels will apply to almost anyone reading this book.

The formula works like this:

Desired weight, 150 pounds

Sedentary: 150 x 10 = 1,500 cal/day

Light activity: 150 x 13 = 1,950 cal/day

Moderately active: 150 x 15 = 2,250 cal/day

Vigorous exercise: 150 x 17 = 2,550 cal/day

Athlete: 150 x 19 = 2,850 cal/day

Desired weight, 125 pounds

Sedentary: 125 x 10 = 1,250 cal/day

Light Activity: 125 x 13 = 1,625 cal/day

Moderately active: 125 x 15 = 1,875 cal/day

Vigorous exercise: 125 x 17 = 2,125 cal/day

Athlete: 125 x 19 = 2,375 cal/day

As you can see, a woman of my size cannot eat at a 2,000 calorie per day level without inevitably gaining weight, unless I were to significantly and consistently increase my level of physical activity (something I have done in recent months).

About 1,200 calories is the minimum number per day for the average person to fulfill necessary nutritional needs. True, you can eat less than that for short periods of time and lose weight without harm, but it is also likely to lead to bingeing and other harmful habits. A better way is to find a natural balance you can live with. I have become accustomed to eating a 1,300 to 1,500-calorie-a-day diet, making sure I include foods that satisfy me nutritionally, physically and emotionally. I never feel like I am on a diet.

–Nadia Giordana

Lose an extra pound or more per week

A pedometer is small and easy to wear. It will measure your steps (and open your eyes). Get one and wear it for a week to determine the number of steps you actually take in any given work day. For the average person, about 2,000 steps equal a mile and burns between 100 to 120 calories. Then dust off that treadmill you’ve been hanging laundry on (I know–that’s how mine was used for several years) and start walking an extra 2-3 miles per day; or if weather permits, go for a real walk outdoors. We hear a lot about the recommended 10,000 steps per day and that’s a good rule of thumb to follow. For me, walking a comfortable 2.8 to 3 mph burns 120 calories per mile and I can cover three treadmill miles in the time it takes to watch “The Dr’s” on afternoon TV. Burning off this extra 360 calories per day will help you drop a pound every 10 days. Bump this up to 4 or 5 miles per day and you will be losing an additional pound per week. Combined with the elimination of 500 excess food calories per day (eliminate one unnecessary indulgence, like designer coffee, or a frozen smoothie) and you’re at 2 pounds per week. One pound = 3,500 calories. In order to lose that one pound, You must burn it off through exercise or eat fewer calories each day than your body needs to maintain its present weight. (See “The 2,000 Calorie per Day Misconception” post in this blog).

IMPORTANT: Don’t ignore your mental, spiritual and emotional well-being. Your state of mind must be in the right place if you hope to maintain your focus and make good progress. I was not able to use the treadmill until I had lost 60 pounds because of a leg injury. That’s why I began to use nightly visualization techniques along with a dialogue with the Holy Spirit to speed up my progress and get me to the point where I could add weight-bearing exercise. It made a huge difference in my success. This is what I’m talking about when I say you can supercharge your weight loss program. I cover those techniques, step-by-step in the book, THINKING SKINNY.

 Nadia Giordana