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I’m Really Losing It

seabaugh_face.jpgI’m saying it out loud. This is the year
I will lose those pesky 10 pounds. (Okay, so now it’s up to 15.) I
have been ranting and raving about ever since middle age took
control of my middle section. When you see me five months from now,
I will look like I did when I moved to California in 1970 (but with
a few more wrinkles and without the luxurious shag haircut).

Already, I have put into effect one of the best tips for losing
weight: Making a public statement that holds one accountable. Here
are three more of my top tips for losing weight in a healthy
manner.

1. Portion control.

I have very dark and dangerous feelings about those who smugly
practice this strategy. I, like most Americans, am untalented at
portion control. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention), American men have added an average of 168 calories
per day to their diet during 30 years. Women have been naughtier,
adding an average of 335 calories per day. Why is this? Perhaps
they were raised by the same mother as I, one who guiltified them
about starving children in faraway places. Also, we dine out way
more than we used to, and fast food joints can infuse us with as
many as 2,000 calories per supersized meal—more than most of us
should be consuming in an entire day.

A couple of tips on how to succeed at portion control: Cut
everything you have on your plate in half and—here is the trick—eat
only half of it. The other thing is to use smaller plates and
bowls. This has been scientifically validated: With a smaller plate
or bowl, your mind will perceive that you are fuller faster.

2. Don’t starve or deprive yourself. This, of
course, is my favorite tip. But it is true. If your body feels
starved, because you have deprived yourself of its adequate
calories, or even its treats, it will retaliate. The next time you
are near a chocolate fountain, you are more likely to be compelled
to stick your head into it. It is only human.

“I don’t think there are any sins about weight loss,” said
Dr. John La Puma, Santa
Barbara physician and nationally known medical nutritionist. “I
almost always advise my patients, starting out, that on the seventh
day they can eat anything they want. After that, they should choose
four days out of each year—I call them Fiesta Days—where anything
goes. Weight loss should be fun: A journey to a better place that
is about reward, but not about food reward.”

3. Diets don’t work; counting calories
does.

We have finally gotten the message that good dieting is about
“calories in/calories out,” which isn’t always easy to master. A
Web site that is helpful with this concept is CalorieKing.com. You enter
information about your age, weight, activity level, etc., and it
calculates the number of calories you need to consume in order to
lose weight. Using its helpful calorie calculation tool, you can
figure out how many calories you consumed in any one day, deducting
the calories expended in exercise.

For example, Calorie King told me that I need to consume no more
than 1,670 calories per day in order to lose weight. Today,
tallying my calories consumed and exercise that expended calories,
I entered my dinner hour with the full calorie allotment to spend.
Since I was going out to a dinner with a friend at a Mexican
restaurant, this was useful information. I was able to eat my
carnitas and drink a margarita or two with impunity. You can sign
up for a free seven-day trial on the Web site.

Dr. Michael O.L. Seabaugh is a licensed clinical
psychologist with a psychotherapy practice in Santa Barbara.
Comment at healthspan@mac.com and visit his
Web site and blog at www.HealthspanWeb.com for more
information on the topics covered in this column.

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