Making a decision to lose weight or changing the way that you eat is always a positive first step. But how do you keep going until your goal is met? Here are suggestions from some of the top nutrition and weight-loss experts from around the country. The suggestions are very do-able and are tried and true changes that can help you reach your goal. These suggestions work for both eating healthfully and weight loss.
Know yourself. Come on—you know what your weaknesses are. Do you snack in the evening while you are watching TV? Do you drink a lot of sugary drinks every day? The good news is you know what your strengths are too. Maybe you really like salads, or you like to drink water. Maybe you enjoy cooking. STACK THE ODDS IN YOUR FAVOR. Don’t just wish you could do better—think of ways you can be successful. Build on your strengths. For example, if you like to drink water, keep a pitcher in the refrigerator. If you enjoy cooking, look for “lighter” ways to fix some of your favorite foods.
Get the rest you need. There is research to support that sleep deprivation (listen to this new parents!) is linked to obesity. Researchers are still studying why but for now just know that being rested will help be a healthy weight.
Start small. Make a list of what you would like to change and pick one of these to work on. Break your goal down into steps, or habits that you would like to change about your eating. Now pick just one or two of these small steps to work on at a time. This is a way to be more successful than one big goal.
Give yourself permission to be human. People who lose weight and keep it off know how to pick themselves up after they slip. Do you generally gain weight over the holidays? That shouldn’t derail your efforts. Just get right back into healthy eating and exercise to lose the weight.
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This is not rocket-science. You already know this. Eating more fruits and vegetables is healthier and will help fill you up while keeping the calories low. Choosing whole-grains increases your fiber (helps you feel full faster) and contains wonderful nutrients that processed breads, cereals, rice, etc. don’t contain. Think of your plate like the face of a clock. Hours 12 o’clock through 6 o’clock should be vegetables and fruits. Grains should be from 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock and protein/meat should be from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock.
Keep your evening low-calorie. Evening can be a high-calorie trap for many of us. Watching our favorite show does not have to mean it is time to drag out the bag of chips. Have an evening routine that is low-calorie. Fix yourself a cup of tea, or have a glass of water or diet soda nearby. If you do have a snack, put a small amount in a bowl or baggie and when it is gone, be done with eating.
Pay attention when you are eating. Sometimes we eat and we are so busy or distracted we don’t even realize what we ate or how much we ate. Try to sit down (with your family), put your food on a plate and eat. Turning off the TV may help you focus on your food more and allow everyone to talk about their day.
Escape food cravings. When food cravings strike try chewing flavored gum, brushing your teeth, drinking a glass of water, take a 5 minute walk, or wait 20 minutes and see if you still want the craving. If so, see if you can just have one bite of whatever it is that you are craving.
Stop eating before you are stuffed. Think of hunger on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is “starving” and 10 is stuffed (like on Thanksgiving). Try to stop eating when you are at about a 5 or 6 on the scale. You will be full, but not stuffed.
Eat before you are “starving.” Try to eat before you are too hungry. When we let ourselves get too hungry, we tend to either eat too much at a meal or choose something very fast (and often not as healthy). Remember, plan for success. Plan you meals and snacks and when you will eat them. This will actually help you eat less.
Weight lose is simple math—if you want to lose weight you have to use a bit more calories than you take in.
A pound of fat equals 3500 calories. To lose 1 pound a week you will need to expend 3500 more calories than you eat than week, whether through increased activity of decreased eating or both. Losing 1-2 pounds of fat a week is a sensible goal. You may think that 1-2 pounds of fat isn’t enough. Think of it this way.
One pound of fat is about equal to four sticks of butter or margarine. If you lost 1-2 of those lumps of fat in a week you should be proud of yourself. That is a lot of fat!
Don’t underestimate the value of exercise. Stretching, strength training, walking, running, etc. are all ways to burn calories, get your mind off of food and build muscle. Having good muscle tone helps our body burn more calories even when we are resting.
It can be hard to carve out time to take care of ourselves when we have an active family and young children. Make yourself a priority! You will be healthier for your family.