Goals to Hold Your Weight Steady

Monday, November 19, 2007; 1:40 PM

Welcome to the seventh annual Lean Plate Club Holiday Challenge. The goal is simple: Maintain your weight from now until New Year's. If you do that, you'll be a step ahead when you ring in 2008.

Here are the goals for each week:

Week 1

Weigh yourself.

Get into caloric balance -- that is, make sure the calories you eat equal the calories you burn. To estimate your caloric needs, take your weight in pounds and multiply by 12. So if you tip the scales at 150 pounds, you require about 1,800 calories to maintain your weight.

Another option: Log on to My Pyramid ( http://www.mypyramid.gov) to have your daily caloric needs estimated for you, then record what you eat and how much you burn exercising at the companion Web site My Pyramid Tracker ( http://www.mypyramidtracker.gov).

Walk 10 minutes daily

Week 2

Eat more fiber and other high volume, lower calorie foods. Fruit and vegetables, soup and stews help reduce overall caloric intake. Puffed and whipped foods -- popcorn and whipped yogurts, for example -- do the same, because they contain so much air. So does food with a lot of fiber.

Control your portions.

Add another five minutes of walking or other activity per day beyond what you did before Thanksgiving. Add that to the 10 extra minutes that was the goal last week, and you'll be doing 15 minutes more of exercise.

Week 3

Add a little protein to your daily diet, a good way to help boost metabolism

Add four five-minute walks to your daily routine to burn more calories.

Week 4

Switch your grains to whole grains. Here are some products to get you going.

For activity, take five short walks -- just five minutes each -- per day, something that even the most hectic schedules can accommodate.

Week 5

This week's food goal is to swap good fats for bad. So choose foods with healthy mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated oil, such as olive, canola and safflower oils; as well as omega-3 fatty acids found in avocados, fish, healthy margarine and nuts, and stearic acid, found in dark chocolate.

For exercise, get 30 minutes of activity daily. You can do that by taking six walks of five minutes each or three 10-minute walks. Or you can do it all at once. Whatever works for you.

Week 6

Add more fruits and vegetables.

Maintain 30 minutes of daily activity.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company