The teen years establish physical health habits for a lifetime. The National Center for Health Statistics reports staggering numbers of American teens with weight problems, and notes that more than 17 percent of teenage girls fall within the category of "obese." Extreme exercise and severe diets are not necessary to take off weight; a few simple lifestyle changes can accomplish the task and establish a healthy body weight.
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Nemours TeenHealth classifies sugary carbonized drinks as empty calories. The average soda, 12 fluid oz., contains about 150 calories. One soda per day adds more than 1,000 calories each week. During the course of a year, almost 50,000 calories are consumed by drinking a single soda each day.
Skip the ride and take a walk. Walking only 15 minutes each day burns more than 40 calories. In a year, a casual daily walk could burn more than four pounds. Use the mall stairs while shopping in place of elevators or escalators to reduce weight even more.
The calories from snacks quickly add up to extra pounds. Keep a snack diary and note the times when snacking is most likely. Purchase low-calorie substitute snacks to replace high-calorie alternatives. Popcorn, celery and carrot sticks are low-calorie alternatives to high-calorie snacks such as potato chips and cookies.
An 8-oz. glass of water fools the brain into feeling less hungry before a meal. Begin with one glass an hour before lunch and dinner, and in the evening several hours before bedtime. Water assists the body in keeping skin moist, and provides a satisfied feeling that reduces night snacking and the urge to eat large meals, according to Nemours TeensHealth. Use Twitter or text messaging to inform dieting friends when water is consumed. This provides a personal record and reminds others to drink up.
Develop an Outdoor Hobby
Developing an outdoor hobby is a way to integrate exercise with a high-interest activity. Nature photography and gardening incorporate walking and bending that burn calories, leading to weight loss. An hour of gardening burns more than 300 calories.
Limit Meal Portions
Smaller portions at each meal reduce calorie intake to help shed weight. Use a smaller dinner plate and glass to reduce food consumption. Measure portions as the items are placed on the plate, and store the remainder of the food right away to prevent second servings. Use visual images to keep an inventory of the day's meals. A digital camera or cell phone is a good way to capture food images.
Avoid Fast Foods
Fast-food meals and snacks come loaded with calories, not to mention unhealthy fats and chemicals. If fast food must be part of your diet, limit visits to only once per week as a reward for good behavior throughout the week. Bring money to purchase only one select food item; this keeps calorie intake to a minimum. Let friends know that fast food is off the diet and make a list of alternative, healthy dining locations for after school or weekend outings.
Set Goals in Writing
TeenHealth recommends setting goals as a way to lose weight. The goals should be easily attainable and reasonable. A goal of one pound per week is a good and safe place to start. This simple plan equals about 50 pounds each year. Use the corner of a diary page to keep track of daily records, and be sure to include exercise minutes and calories consumed each day.
Select an Exercise Buddy
Working out together makes weight loss easier. Buddy workouts encourage accountability, as it is more difficult to pass on required daily exercise. Options include working out with someone in person, connecting with a buddy via the Internet, or even checking in by cell phone as exercise is in progress. Call your buddy when a walk begins and make sure she knows the exact time requirement for the exercise session. A long conversation is a good way to distract from the exercise commitment.
Eat a Quality Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is critical to weight loss, according to Nemours TeensHealth. The medical group notes that female teens who do not eat breakfast are prone to be overweight. A healthy breakfast incorporates fruit, dairy and protein.