Healthy Ways to Lose Weight for Special Occasions

by Misha Biden, Registered Dietician

You have an event coming up — wedding, reunion, a trip to Maui — so naturally you want to look your best. You may have put on a couple of pounds over the past few months — or years. Now, you want them gone. But you may not have the luxury of time. So what’s the best way to get back to your ideal size on short notice? A few simple, commonsense changes can go a long way towards shedding the pounds.

Tried and true

While it may seem like a cliché, the ideal, and healthiest, way to reduce weight is to decrease calories and increase exercise. We’ve come to equate this approach with suffering in the form of hunger and painful, long workouts. But that’s not really necessary.

Think portion size

We tend to eat what’s on the plate, so it’s a great idea to use smaller plates and limit your meals to one plate. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, especially when snacking. Stay away from refined carbohydrates, fatty meats, desserts and fruit juices. These foods are all calorically dense, making it difficult to reach your goal. If you must indulge, once again, keep the portion small. There’s no sin in putting the other half of that ice cream sandwich in the freezer for tomorrow.

Prepare your own meals

That means eating at home and bringing a lunch to work. Restaurants generally serve richer, higher calorie foods, and more of them, than you would prepare at home. That turkey sandwich may seem boring when compared to the BLT drenched in mayo from your favorite deli, but it’s also a better way to stay on track. By preparing your own meals, you take control of all aspects of your food, rather than allowing someone else to make those decisions.

Watch the liquids

Juices and sugary soft drinks and even sports drinks are very high in calories. At the same time, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Your body will function better on all levels, including metabolically. If you need some flavor in your water, try squeezing in some fresh lemon, freshly peeled ginger root, or cucumber slices.

Exercise more

Does this mean killing yourself? Absolutely not. If you’re not working out at all, start taking brisk 30 minute walks. If you’re already working out, kick it up a notch. Also, find opportunities to exercise in your daily life. Search for the farthest parking space at the mall, rather than the closest. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Spend some time in the garden. Just be active.

Most of all, don’t starve yourself. Our bodies fear famine, and know what to do when that happens. Our metabolism slows down, right down to the cellular level. If you’re hungry, have an apple. Just stay away from the chips and dip.

This health and wellness tip was provided by Misha Biden, a registered dietitian specializing in diabetes and endocrinology at Scripps Clinic Center for Weight Management.