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Smart Weight Loss for that Beach Body

February 27, 2011       Leave a Comment
By: Stacy Sawyer

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It's that time of year when I start hoping for warm weather, the sun, and days at the beach. But as I was dreaming about 90 degree weather the other day, beach means bathing suit and bathing suit means YIKES for me. So the exercise DVDs are back out, calorie counting is back on along with searching my favorite website - heart.org - for tools and tips on how I can make weight loss a reality. Here's some info if you're in the same boat I'm in...


Since losing weight means changing the balance of calories in to calories out. If we eat more calories than we need, we gain weight. If we eat fewer calories than we use, we lose weight.

So first thing is first, learn how many calories you should eat each day for your individual level of activity, and then you'll need to find ways to stay within your limits. You can find your personal daily calorie intake and fat needs at www.heart.org/ fatsandsodiumexplorer. The tool tells you how many calories you should consume and simple ways to reduce your calories.

Experts say to lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in. One pound equals 3,500 calories. To successfully and healthfully lose weight, and keep it off, most people need to subtract about 500 calories per day from their diet to lose about 1 pound per week.

Now that we have calories under control, let's focus on physical activity. Regular physical activity has so many proven benefits, such as to help control weight and blood pressure and decrease the risk for heart disease and stroke. All healthy adults (ages 18 to 64) should get at least 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking every week or 1.25 hours (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity such as jogging or running every week.

Additionally, we need on 2 or more days a week muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). Besides helping lose weight, it also helps reduce abdominal fat and preserve muscle during weight loss. Something I definitely need after having baby number two at age 39.

The amount of physical activity any individual person needs for weight loss can vary, but you will need to get both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan to lose weight and keep it off. A good plan may include 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, like brisk walking, done nearly every day.

Experts say find something you can do and find ways to enjoy it. So I use my kick-boxing videos when I'm stressed, but take a walk when it's nice out and the kids want to be outside. Food diaries are also recommended to help learn how much you are eating and whether you're eating out of habit instead of real hunger. This helps me be aware of roadblocks so I can plan alternative choices.

For more information visit www.americanheart.org where you can find various tools to help you with your beach body too.

Stacy Sawyer
Communications Director -- American Heart Association
989-225-7513 (cell)
517-349-3240 (fax)

I invite your questions and feedback.



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Stacy Sawyer

Stacy Sawyer is the Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. She can be reached at (989) 225-7513.

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