Healthy Manhattan: Healthy Ways to Drop the Weight

Written by Lisa Elaine Held on . Posted in Healthy Manhattan, Posts.


Last month, on one of the first days that the temperature rose above 60 degrees, NYU students sprawled out in bikinis in Washington Square Park, soaking up the sun next to signs that warned them to keep off the freshly seeded lawn. Young women in sundresses scoured the aisles of DSW in Union Square for sandals to show off their brand-new pedicures. All of this compulsive skin baring associated with the first hint of summer’s approach comes with a related phenomenon—an obsession with weight loss. The sun is out in New York, and so are carbs.

At gyms like Equinox, there’s a huge bump in business that starts in March and climaxes in June, according to David Harris, vice president of personal training.

"My business takes off this time of year," said Christy Maskeroni, a registered dietician who is the nutritionist-in-residence at the luxury fitness center CLAY on 14th Street.

Maskeroni said that 80 to 85 percent of her clients are women, and they come to her already seeded with the latest ideas about weight loss. Should I try the Dukan diet like Kate Middleton? Should I start a juice cleanse?

While juice cleanses are more mainstream, and diet pills are still out there, increasingly, nutritionists are focusing less on ways to help their patients lose as
many pounds as possible for that week in the Hamptons, and more on
helping them make a complete lifestyle shift in which healthy habits
based on whole, unprocessed foods rule out the need for dieting.

"In
my eyes, people still want the quick fix—what can I do as quickly as
possible," said Maskeroni. "My goal is to explain the importance of food
as fuel and the process of how weight loss works."

Even
Weight Watchers, which used to assign the same amount of points to an
Oreo as an apple (because the calorie counts were the same) has jumped
on the whole foods bandwagon. Last December, they updated their system
for the first time in 14 years, allowing participants to enjoy unlimited
fruits and vegetables and assigning higher point values to processed
foods.

"We had to
change the system because of what we now know about nutrition," said
Janice Mielarczyk, the head of New York City Weight Watchers. "There’s
so much information about how our bodies process the food, and it’s not
just about calories."

Andrea
Moss, a health counselor and founder of Moss Wellness who specializes
in weight loss, welcomes this change. Before she attended the Institute
for Integrative Nutrition, she was 45 pounds heavier and had tried every
diet out there, including one that only allowed her to eat for one hour
per day. Now, she helps her clients achieve balance over dieting. She
calls whole foods like produce, whole grains, nuts and fish "honest
foods" because the body knows how to get nutrients from them and is left
feeling satisfied.

"If
you’re eating an imbalanced diet— for example, not getting enough
protein or complex carbohydrates—your body may send up sweet cravings
all the time," she explained, "and it’s very hard to deny those cravings
since your body can be screaming them at you."

For
example, lots of women trying to lose weight reach for artificial
sweeteners like Splenda, but the body recognizes the sweet taste and
prepares itself for sugar intake. When it doesn’t get it, it craves
sugar for the rest of the day, making weight loss harder.

Some
of Moss’ top tips for safe, healthy weight loss are to increase fiber
intake, switch to wheat bread and brown rice, eat healthy fats found in
fish and nuts and to switch from refined sugar to a natural alternative
like honey, maple syrup or stevia. Plan ahead, and choose healthy foods
and exercise that you enjoy.

If
you really need to drop more weight quickly, juice cleanses can be OK,
but listen to your body. If you feel faint, make a beeline for the
nearest Shake Shack.

Another
unlikely component to weight loss? "Most importantly, sleep, sleep,
sleep," stressed Maskeroni. "The hormone that makes you feel hungry is
elevated in those that aren’t sleeping enough, so you’ll feel hungry
more often."

Following
an integrative nutrition plan like Moss’ or Maskeroni’s will allow you
to shed about a pound per week. So, you may not be the svelte figure
you’d imagined by the time you make your first trip out to Long Beach in
June, but it will likely last much longer.

"If
you want to lose weight and keep it off, it has to always be about a
lifestyle shift," said Moss. "There is no quick fix that will last
forever."

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