steffanie rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*I was on the way to an appointment the other day and due to arrive twenty minutes early despite blinding rain and heavy traffic. But I missed my exit off the interstate. It took me thirty minutes to get back on track, arriving ten minutes late for my appointment.

Life is funny that way. You can do nine things right, but it’s that one wrong turn which can change the outcome of the best laid plans. NFL player Sam Hurd can testify to that, but I digress. It’s probably the reason the majority of Americans don’t bother to set goals. They plan a vacation better than they plan their lives.

But in a few weeks millions of people will flood their neighborhood workout facilities with one goal in mind: To lose weight and get fit in the New Year. The trouble is, unlike that inappropriate Christmas gift, it’s not the thought that counts.

To lose weight you actually have to put in some work on a consistent basis, probably for the rest of your life if you plan to keep the weight off. So before you go to the trouble of writing a prolific weight loss statement of purpose for 2012 you should realize the best way to achieve goals is to make them realistic and measurable.

Don’t wait for January 1st to start an exercise routine and reduce your caloric intake after you ate and drank yourself into near insulin shock between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It’s like waiting until you say “I do” to be monogamous after sleeping with the stripper at the bachelor/ette party the night before the wedding: The angel-act won’t last long. Be sincere and realistic about weight loss goals. Start today by cutting 500 calories every day from your food and drinks. According to the Mayo Clinic, reducing food and drink intake by 500 calories a day will cut 3,500 calories a week and that amounts to one pound lost every week. Here’s the best reason to start now:

Sitting down to family style meals as millions of people will do on Christmas Day can be detrimental to your waistline because the platters full of food at the table is like having a buffet at arm’s length: it entices people to eat seconds and thirds when normally they would not. Instead of passing food around the table, dieticians say it’s better to leave it in the kitchen and have people fill their plates before they sit down. Most people will be too full – or too embarrassed – to go back to the kitchen for seconds and thirds, thus cutting 500 calories from their daily intake.

Since it’s hard to turn down rich foods that are high in calories try eating on a smaller plate. It’s the same as eating a medium pizza instead of a large one. You still ate a whole pizza but not as much as you might have. Using a smaller plate will reduce the amount of food consumed by as much as 25%. It’s a baby step to cutting 500 calories from your daily food intake.

This also is the season to drink and be merry. Surprisingly some alcoholic beverages are worse that eating a piece of pie when it comes to counting calories. Cut down on the hundreds of calories by mixing drinks with club soda, lemon juice and tonic water. And if you have to choose just one way to cut calories cutting sugary carbonated drinks goes a long way. A 12-ounce carbonated drink has 150 calories. Most people drink at least three a day. Others confess to drinking a six-pack of carbonated drinks every day. Cut that out altogether and that’s a 900 calorie reduction every day. Of course the best beverage is water. You will lose weight faster and your skin will look better.

Incorporating these habits will cut at least 500 calories every day and help you to lose one pound a week. And it will save on the cost of paying monthly membership fees at a gym that most people won’t use.

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist. Send your comments, questions and appearance inquiries to Steffanie at [email protected]