Making it my business: let’s drop some lbs.

OMG, it’s almost bathing suit season! What’s a Richmonder to do?

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Dear Valerie,

I’ve decided it’s time for me to lose some weight – about 20 pounds. Do you have any tips for getting started?

Battling the Bulge

Well, BTB, you’ve got the first part down: making the decision to lose weight. About a year ago I was struggling to get rid of about 30 extra pounds, accumulated thanks to a sedentary lifestyle and a penchant for Wendy’s among other things. All in all, it took me about 6 months to lose it, mostly because I spent the first two month futzing around. I would go to the gym and then call my husband to see if he wanted me to pick up McDonald’s on the way home. And, uh, of course he did because *he* didn’t need to lose any weight.

And then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror on day. Like a *real* glimpse. It was time for things to change. I buckled down, started exercising and eating well, and eventually the pounds started falling off.

While I’m not a doctor and I don’t know the circumstances of your weight gain, BTB, I can offer some tips that worked for me:

1. Water. And then some more water. Oh, and then have some water.

More often than not, when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty. When you feel that hunger pain, drink a glass of water and give yourself a few minutes to see if you’re still “hungry.” If so, eat something. If not, don’t. Please note, I’m not advocating replacing food with water; I’m simply pointing out the need for you to better understand what your body is telling you. (Helpful hint: To determine your ideal daily water intake, convert your height into inches. That’s how many ounces of water you should have each day. For example, I am 5 foot 4 inches, or 64 inches total, so I should drink 64 ounces of water a day.)

2. Prioritize your food.

When eating a meal, eat the green stuff first – and there should always, always be something green on your plate. This way, if you fill up before cleaning your plate, you’ve gotten in the good stuff. This takes discipline, I know, but trust me, your body will thank you.

3. Cut back on the alcohol.

People hate it when I say that, but it’s true. The average serving of beer (12 oz.) is about 150 calories, while wine (4 oz.) is about the same. To me, drinking your calories is a complete waste (unless it’s useful calories that you’d find in milk or orange juice). If you’re going to indulge, save it for something that’s easier to keep track of. Like mozzarella sticks.

4. Exercise and often.

The more you exercise, the faster your metabolism. The faster your metabolism, the faster you burn calories. It’s cause and effect. Unfortunately, for someone who has never exercised before, the whole process of getting started can be pretty daunting, often to the point where you don’t want to do anything. It’s ok to start small. Just remember to keep challenging yourself so you don’t get bored or start to plateau.

5. Forgive yourself.

You’re going to mess up and probably in some pretty horrible ways. I recall a certain incident myself in which I ate a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, Biggie Fries, and an order of chicken nuggets all in one sitting. The key is to not use a slump as permission to throw all of your progress out the window. Acknowledge it, forgive yourself, and move on.


What are the best ways for a Richmonder to lose weight? Gyms to join. specific restaurants to eat at, stores to shop?

Ready to Reduce in Richmond

You’re in luck, RRR. While Richmond is in the South, and we in the South do love the fried delicacies, the River City does have a lot to offer for those looking to take the healthier path.

Gold’s Gym, American Family Fitness, and the YMCA all have several locations in and around the city. Be sure to check out the amenities at the different locations in your area and choose the one that offers what you’re looking for. And for the record, I highly recommend actually joining a gym, just in general. If you’re paying upwards of $30 a month to be a member, you’re much more likely to get off your duff and go than if you just stick to doing Tae Bo in your living room.

As far as eating out goes, I’d recommend limiting it as much as possible as it’s difficult to *really* know what they’re putting in the food and how many calories you’re putting in your face. But, if you must eat out (and I am one who must indulge in a night out every once in a while) try going for the vegetarian options available to you. Places like Ipanema, and Cous Cous, among others, offer a wide selection of cuisine for the veg-lovers.

As far as shopping goes, I could be a lovely little local and tell you to head to Ellwood Thompson’s or Fresh Market and stock up, but very few of us can actually afford that. Instead, think about joining a farming co-op like Sprout Richmond!, giving you access to fresh, local vegetables throughout the spring, summer, and early fall. It’s a big output of cash at first, but it works out to just a few dollars per person each week, and you get more vegetables than you could ever, ever eat. If you don’t manage to get in with a co-op, try to get the majority of your produce at the farmer’s market, just so you know where it’s coming from. When it comes to items that just aren’t available locally, I go with my mother-in-law’s advice and stick to the outer areas of the grocery store, buying only fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of fresh meat.

As usual, if I left something out (or completely offended you with inaccuracies) share it in the comments.

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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