How about instead of trying to follow the template of The Biggest Loser, which frankly works if you can isolate yourself for 12 - 14 weeks away from your daily life, so that you can easily follow 1200 controlled calories daily plus hours of exercise - you follow elements of the show's program in a more realistic fashion.
It makes sense to create a non-tempting environment at home by only bringing in mostly healthy foods, preparing individual portion sizes of grains and proteins ahead of time, only buying water and unsweetened beverages, and committing to at least an hour of exercise daily, some days even a bit more. Suddenly the program doesn't sound so easy or so interesting, huh?? After all, you're not on TV and you don't have the support of team members, nor free round-the-clock personal trainers whom you love and hate at the same time, nor constantly available and free healthy food prepared by someone else. Despite the isolation factor, the screaming coaches and the long hours of exercise, these other "gifts" make The Biggest Loser approach seems incredibly appealing. But how are these participants fairing post show? Some have kept the weight off though not as low as goal weights hit on the show by the winners. Most have regained some, all or even more weight after they left the show. Because real life is tough and maintaining healthy habits daily is really tough. So why not be a realistic big loser and adopt some healthy habits that will help you lose and maintain your weight long term?
It helps to create certain guidelines or habit goals by age group, since each decade presents different weight challenges. So let me offer some basic recommendations by age group:
In your 20s: Learn to eat a healthy balanced breakfast every morning, so the habit becomes ingrained. Get exercise done before work in the am so you never skip it. If you aren't already doing it, add some weight training days and some balancing exercises. Embrace fish as an entree at least twice a week. And have a minimum of two meat-free days weekly.
In your 30s: Keep up those habits, but make sure you are having at least 3-4 servings of fruit daily and 5 servings of vegetables. Also start counting servings of grains closely and make sure you are getting adequate protein. Most days of the week target a goal of 60 minutes of moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise. Keep weight training and balancing exercises in play.
In your 40s: Add in daily fiber goals, about 30 - 35 grams daily for men and women is a reasonable target. Watch the salt intake and make sure your one or two snacks daily are equal to or less than 150 calories each, and include a fruit or vegetable serving. Make sure milk servings are mostly fat free and consider dropping some servings of grain in favor of more plant-based protein like beans or legumes. At this point in life you can still have red meat but only the leanest cuts and no more than one serving/week. Keep up the exercise so you don't gain weight or lose muscle mass or bone density.
By your 50s and beyond: Keep up all those habits you've worked on. Tracking calories closely is vital since aging does often mean weight gain if you are not vigilant. Divide up you exercise minutes if you have to, but get it done daily. If you can, add in some yoga and increase the number of balancing exercises in your program. Make sure you de-stress and get enough sleep. If you were a runner you may find a need to switch and embrace jogging or walking so there is less wear and tear on your knees and ankles. If so, keep your new workouts challenging so that you don't begin to gain weight because of less effort.
With healthier habits accumulating and entrenching themselves into your daily life over the decades, you are more likely to keep up those hard-earned habits!!
Published On: October 25, 2011