Shaping up for Your Valentine … and Yourself

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January 25, 2011

by Paula Loehr, R.N.

Over the years, your doctor has probably convinced you that limiting caloric intake and upping the exercise quotient will improve your overall health and fitness. After all, it’s commonly known that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to major health problems such as diabetes and osteoarthritis, as well as diseases of the heart, liver, gall bladder, respiratory system, and intestines. What better present can you give your beloved valentine than the gift of a healthier you? And what better gift can you give yourself for Valentine’s Day?

Finding Your Natural Balance
There’s no denying that variations in individual metabolic rates make some of us lose weight more readily or less readily than the average person. Even so, the most effective weight-reduction strategy for everyone is — quite simply — a balancing act. It’s a constant tug of war between incoming calories versus calories burned through physical activity. Fortunately, it’s just as easy to wage the war against excess pounds from the comfort of your RV galley as it is in a traditional kitchen.

In the article “Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics,” the Mayo staff defines calories as “the energy in food,” and explains that all calories consumed are either “converted to physical energy or stored within your body as fat.” The stored fat doesn’t budge until you reduce your intake of food and/or increase physical activity enough to burn off the excess calories.

As stated by the experts at Mayo, “If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight.” Fortunately, the inverse effect is also true. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, your body weight drops. So the ultimate weight-control techniques are 1) eating less and 2) moving more.

The Mayo team recommends easy strategies such as giving up one customary high-calorie treat every day, trading in other high-calorie choices for comparable foods with lower calorie counts, and routinely reducing the portions you place on your plate. Other pound-purging tricks recommended by the experts at Mayo include paying close attention to everything you eat, browsing food labels for caloric contents, and stopping eating as soon as you feel satisfied, even if your plate isn’t empty.

In his article “Dr. Oz’s Top 5 Mistakes Dieters Make,” Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” cautions strongly against crash diets. Instead of quick weight-loss plans that are impossible to continue long term, he recommends eating a generous variety of healthful foods, tracking progress with a food diary, and decreasing your daily caloric intake by just 100 calories each day. Dr. Oz is a proponent of always eating breakfast plus several additional small (healthful) meals and snacks every day. He also recommends drinking at least eight glasses of water per day, and replacing high-calorie drinks with low-cal alternatives such as black coffee or a bubbly homemade soft drink –- a glass of club soda with a splash of fruit juice.

Comparing Calorie Counts and Eating Less
When you’re making an effort to shape up, consider first how different foods with common ingredients or similar purposes have notably different calorie counts. Remember that for every 3,500 calories you either avoid eating and/or burn off while exercising, you banish one pound of body fat. In your quest to cut calories, every little bit helps the cause.

So try drinking 12 ounces of brewed unsweetened hot or iced tea (2 calories), water or seltzer water (0 calories each) instead of your favorite canned soft drink (120 – 180 calories). A crisp, unpeeled apple (72 calories) is a sensible food choice too, as compared with a slice of homemade apple pie (411 calories).

While half of a roasted chicken breast contains a respectable 86 calories, the same-sized portion of batter-fried chicken breast yields 140 calories. A slice of frozen cheese pizza baked in your RV galley has 169 calories, and a one-ounce slice of low-fat cheddar cheese contains 49. Fast food French fries are well-documented diet-busters, having 578 calories per large serving. On a healthier track, a large unsalted baked potato with skin contains 188 calories. When you add a tablespoon of unsalted butter, the total count rises to 290. Are you wishing for something creamy and smooth? Try a half-cup of low fat plain yogurt (72 calories) instead of the equivalent amount of vanilla ice cream (133 calories). To check alphabetical listings for the calorie counts of a wide spectrum of foods, consult the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard References.

Moving More to Melt Away Pounds
The second part of the ‘shape-up’ equation relates to stepping up physical activity –- on a day-to-day basis. RV campers have an advantage when it comes to exercise opportunities, since a camping lifestyle is naturally active. Better still, typical RV resorts tend to offer guests a wide array of onsite activities, both indoors and outdoors. So you can pick your favorite form of exercise and run with it, or try out a whole host of calorie-burning activities.

Keep in mind that the benefits of exercise go far beyond the prospects of losing weight and shaping up your physique. Exercise is a very effective, all-natural mood elevator. It also helps enhance the functioning of your cardiovascular system and can even lower your blood pressure.

As noted in the table below (according to the Walgreens Wellness News website), a 170-pound person burns the noted number of calories when engaging in the listed forms of exercise for 30 minutes. You can double the numbers (and your weight loss potential) when you engage in more ambitious, hour-long workouts. Remember, your overall goal is to burn more calories than you take in. As luck would have it, an RV resort full of active campers is the ideal location for doing just that!

Calories Burned

Bicycle riding at 12 – 13.9 miles per hour 309
Softball 193
Canoeing 135
Cleaning 135
Frisbee tossing 116
Aerobic dancing 232
Golfing, carrying clubs 212
Judo, karate, kickboxing or taekwondo 386
Jumping rope 386
Racquetball 270
Shuffleboard 116
Snorkeling 193
Stretching yoga 155
Swimming 309
Tennis 270
Volleyball 116
Walking 3 miles per hour/20-minute mile 135
Water-skiing 232
Weightlifting 11

As Valentine’s season approaches, you can aim to become your own best friend and your sweetheart’s dream come true –- by slimming down, shaping up, and improving your overall health and well-being.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For more info about RV travel visit the Good Sam Club Trip Planning section where you can route your RV trip, read interesting RV travel articles, learn about points of interest, find RV campgrounds and print out RV checklists.

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