Many individuals in their 30s have a difficult time balancing their personal lives with their professional lives, and often times, their eating and exercise habits get neglected. If these habits go unchecked for too long, it can lead to weight gain and obesity, which increases the risk of other chronic health conditions. To battle the bulge while in your 30s, it is imperative that you monitor your food and beverage intake, while also keeping up a regular exercise regimen and learning stress-management skills.
Cut Your Calories
Women in their 30s need as few as 1,800 calories per day to maintain their weight. In order to lose weight, you will need to reduce your calorie intake. Cutting 500 calories from your daily diet will result in weight loss of 1 pound per week, because 1 pound of fat is roughly equal to 3,500 calories. The easiest way to do this is by increasing your intake of low-calorie, non-starchy vegetables and fruits like broccoli, carrots, berries and melon and decreasing your intake of fatty meats, processed starches, snack foods and desserts. In general, when you sit down to eat a meal, half of your plate should be filled with fresh vegetables, one-quarter of your plate should comprise whole grains and the other quarter of your plate should be lean meat or legumes. You can also have a small serving of low-fat dairy and a piece of fruit on the side.
In order to create a calorie deficit for weight loss, you will also need to increase your exercise and physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity and two or more days of strength-training activities each week. Keep in mind that you do not have to join a gym to meet these recommendations. Walking briskly, pushing a lawnmower and gardening all count toward your weekly cardio goals, and easy strength-training activities include pushups, situps and wall-sits.
What you may not realize is that the calories from alcohol quickly add up and, more importantly, they can negate any progress you have made toward your weight loss goal. Like sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages contain anywhere from 100 to 350 calories per serving. In addition, those who drink alcohol with meals are also more likely to ingest more calories from food. Women should limit their intake of alcohol to no more than one serving per day. One serving is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
Control Your Stress
Thirty-somethings are often pulled in many directions due to professional, school and family obligations. Unfortunately, these high-stress lives often lead to poor eating habits and subsequent weight gain. Stress increases the body’s production of a hormone called cortisol, and high levels of cortisol can increase your appetite while also increasing abdominal fat. In addition, many people who are stressed, anxious or depressed find themselves eating unhealthy foods that are high in sugar and fat in order to comfort themselves, and this also contributes to weight gain. To combat emotional eating, it is important that you manage your psychological health. Practice reducing your stress levels with activities like Pilates, meditation or yoga. You can write or journal whenever you feel particularly stressed out. If you are stress eater, it is also a good idea to consult with a psychologist or therapist to identify and learn to control the source of your anxieties.
- American Diabetes Association: Calorie Intake Chart
- MayoClinic.com: Counting Calories: Getting Back to Weight Loss Basics
- Kaiser Permanente: The Plate Method
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- The Ohio State University: Drinking Your Calories with Alcohol
- MayoClinic.com: How Do I Control Stress-Induced Weight Gain?
- University of New Mexico: Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight
Dr. Courtney Winston is a registered/licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator and public health educator. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her doctoral degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Dr. Winston was recognized in 2012 with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Emerging Leader in Dietetics Award for the state of California.