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May, 22 2013

Are you constantly looking for strategic ways to shave off some calories or up your activity level to keep your weight down? If so, you’re reading the right article and have many good reasons to do so! Here’s just one: I recently wrote an article called 3 Tips for Saving on Healthcare Costs where I learned that obese women rack up an extra $3,613 a year in medical spending. Yikes! That’s $300 a month!

To help with some practical tips, I spoke with Lisa Hammett, a Weight Watchers leader, who shed some pounds when she went through the program herself in the late 1990’s. She explains, "I actually went through the program twice. The first time, I lost 45 pounds and kept it off for 3 years. Then, I moved to Texas, fell in love with Tex-Mex, told myself it was too hot to workout and gained it back. In 2010, I was sick of it - my knees and ankles hurt, my husband was having medical issues - so we both went on the program and I lost 65 pounds that I've kept off ever since then." {Author's note:  I've seen her.  She looks great.}

Here are a few of Lisa's practical weight loss tips that might work for you, too!

1) Control Your Portions

Keep this top-of-mind the next time you start scooping up a big ol' helping of mashed potatoes (why do they call it a "helping" when it really isn't helping?). Lisa suggests sharing with someone, ordering from the appetizer menu (NOT the deep fried, high fat/carb versions) or kids menu, or getting a lunch portion.  

Lisa advises, "If sharing or smaller portions aren't an option - when you order, ask your server to bring a to-go box when they bring your meal. Then, put 1/2 of the meal in the to-go box before you start eating. Now that you've made this public display, there's little chance you’ll crack it open and dig in! And 10 minutes after you finish your 1/2 meal, you'll feel satisfied and not want it anyway." You can do this at fast food restaurants, too - ask the preparer to wrap ½ that Subway or Chipotle burrito ahead of time so there’s less temptation. If pre-meal bread or chips are your weakness, ask the server not to bring them or to bring 1/2 the normal amount.

2) Eat Your Fruits & Veggies

If you’re really hungry, a good way to bulk up your meal is with fruits or veggies. Supplement with these vs. another helping of carbs or fatty foods. For instance, get a salad with pizza and you can eat fewer slices because you'll fill up on salad, too. 

Fortunately, we’re moving into fresh fruits and veggies season! "Aim for variety," Lisa says, "If you’re only eating bananas and apples, you’ll get bored and reach for an unhealthy choice. Go to a Farmer’s Market or a store with a great produce section and try something new: pineapples, mangos, kiwis, artichokes, etc.  Just buy one to see if you like - it's an inexpensive way to sample a few new ideas."

3) Move Your Bum

Lisa is quick to point out that it’s not necessarily about “exercise.” She says, "So many of us hate to exercise, but it's really about getting more activity in your day."

Personally, I can believe that! I went from working on a large corporate campus where it took 12 minutes to walk from my car to my desk. Throughout the day, I had meetings in rooms far away from my desk, so much of my day was walking to and from my car and meeting rooms. I never realized how much all these steps helped to keep my weight down. Now, I usually work from a home office and I'm surprised how much less activity I get in a day and how much harder it is to keep weight off.


Lisa says, "You don’t have to go running, sweat buckets at the gym or walk the dog for an hour. There are so many activities you can easily fit into your day if you’re willing to think about it and be more strategic." Here are a few of her suggestions:

**Most of us consider getting the close parking space to be a win in our day. How about just planning to park further away and taking a few more steps?

**Skip the elevator and take the stairs

**If you have a two-story home – don’t stack items on the stairs to take up at one time. Instead, do one trip at a time and burn those calories.

**If you're more sedentary at work, make a point to do something that gets you moving every hour.  

**Drink liquids - not only because it's good for you, but to force yourself to walk to the bathroom. And shoot for one that's further away from your desk.

**Stand more. According to, standing is like walking: It increases energy, burns extra calories, tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow and ramps up metabolism. If your employer is agreeable, ask for a standing office space. Go here to calculate your standing burn rate (my calculation resulted in 30% more calories burned while standing)

**Use a Pilates ball as an office chair. This strengthens your core and burns calories, while you sit!  Click here to learn 10 reasons why you should try it.

**Get a Fitness Monitor like a Weight Watchers ActiveLinkfitbitNike FuelBand, or bodybugg. Unlike a pedometer that tracks steps taken, these next-gen monitors track ALL your activity (and more!). Lisa says, "Obviously, I use the Weight Watchers ActiveLink. One day, I was cleaning out closets – with all the bending, walking, reaching, etc., I earned 15 activity points. That’s a full 2 days worth of points for some. All of a sudden, vacuuming and mopping are my friends because I earn more points for these activities."  

So, you can have a clean house AND a small waistline…that’s what I call a win-win!

Now, let's hear from you! What are some things you do during a typical day to eat better, burn calories or stay active? 


Heidi has a passion for helping busy families control their healthcare dime, time and peace of mind! She writes articles to do just that, while keeping it fun and simple for her readers! She also speaks on healthcare issues and is the owner of

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