It might not sound like a lot. In fact, some people roll their eyes if they hear someone lamenting they want to lose 10 pounds. “You’re not fat! Whatever.”
An extra 10 pounds of weight on your body is equivalent to carrying a sack of potatoes, an infant, a turkey or maybe a ham, day and night, 24/7.
“I used to be one of those people who wanted to punch people who said they needed to lose 5 or 10 pounds,” said Houston resident Sharon Stinson. “But now I know better.” That’s because Stinson, who used to weigh 300 pounds, is now a fitness coach.
The good news is, losing a few pounds does not require a major overhaul. Some tweaking here and there will probably take care of it.
“Your body is sensitive and responsive to the food you give it, even for 10 pounds,” said Louise Goldberg, a registered dietitian with an Apple a Day Nutrition Consulting in Houston.
Cut out foods that have been highly processed or refined, because they make you feel hungrier, Goldberg said. For example, instead of drinking juice, eat fruit.
Read it and weep
Learn how to read labels, but also master the art of the quick peek.
Read the first three ingredients on convenience or processed foods, because ingredients are listed in the order of quantity. If sugar is in the top three, put it back on the shelf.
And keep it simple by reading percentages instead of grams.
“If you think of 5 percent as low, and 20 percent as high, you can get a good idea if that food is OK for you or not,” Goldberg said. “Maybe something says it’s 25 percent (of your daily recommended intake of) sodium. You know that food is really high in salt. You’re going to want to aim for that 5 percent number instead.”
Weight loss plans that encourage eliminating a particular food group, or one that pushes one food type over another, might result in quick pound-droppage, but it’s probably not going to last, Goldberg said.
That’s because you’re losing water weight instead of belly fat. So, as has been said over and over again, everything, or perhaps most things, in moderation.
“I adore food and always will,” Stinson said. “It’s part of my life.”
Stinson began losing weight by taking small steps that work whether you want to lose 10 pounds or 100.
Switch from regular mayonnaise to light. Ditto for cheese. Use one piece of whole-wheat bread on your sandwich, instead of two slices of white.
“I love bacon cheeseburgers more than life,” Stinson said. “The old Sharon would get a burger, large fries, a real Coke and a milkshake for later. The new Sharon? a burger. With water. If I have fries, I split them with somebody. The thing is, it’s calories in and calories out. People want to make it complex, but it’s not.”
But Hank Richardson, owner of Define Body and Mind, a fitness and nutrition center with two locations in Houston, said “calories in versus calories out” is a common misconception, especially when it comes to minor weight loss.
“A lot of our clients are already doing the healthy diet and are working out consistently,” Richardson said. “The last 5 pounds just tends to linger.”
Blame it on age and stress, but add this to the list: obesogens, he said.
Obesogens, a term even Dr. Mehmet Oz is fond of, are chemical compounds foreign to the body. The idea behind this is that everyday products – such as perfume, hair spray, even the plastic surrounding food and drink – contain obesogens, which in turn mess with the body’s endocrine system.
“Obesogens confuse the body’s metabolism,” Richardson said. “The body goes into fluctuation because it doesn’t know what to do. People should pay attention to elements like that. It can be a huge, powerful step in making your body better.”
Richardson said eating organic is a good first step.
If organic is out of reach, make simple changes, such as eating fresh vegetables instead of canned. Also consider what you’re drinking. Carbonated beverages and artificial sweeteners tend to bloat your belly.
Use it or lose it?
Even if it is “just” 10 pounds, do you really need to lose it? Is this vanity speaking? After all, muffin tops and skinny jeans don’t mix any better than spare tires and miniskirts.
If losing it is strictly a matter of health, a recent study conducted by Australian researchers said people who are 10-15 pounds overweight appear to have no greater risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease than those of a lighter weight.
In fact, the ability to pinch an inch can be a deterrent when it comes to developing osteoporosis, a bone-deteriorating condition that thin women are at higher risk of developing.
And then there’s this to consider. Would you rather look good coming, or going? Because slimming down your backside might lead to more wrinkles on your face as you age. Fat keeps the face plumper and, therefore, healthier looking.
That being said, here’s the catch about the Australian study: it was printed in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and targeted people in their 70s.
However, bottom line – if you’re not comfortable in your skin and clothes, go about fixing it the right way. Weight loss of up to 2 pounds a week is reasonable, Stinson said.
And make a date with the scale no more than once a week.
“If you’re not seeing the number on the scale change, but your clothes fit better, you’re losing fat,” Stinson said. “And be reasonable. If you try to change everything overnight, you will fail. At least 95 percent do. You have to find what works for you.”