Weight has a way of creeping up on us over time but there are several techniques that we can use to adopt a healthier lifestyle and establish a routine for sustainable, long-term weight management. Often, we counsel our weight loss patients to start by using a few of these strategies first, working up to adding more as they begin to get comfortable with their new routine.
Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint – but you have to start your training somewhere.
#1. Write it down
One of the key challenges in losing weight is becoming conscious about what we really eat. That’s why one of the first things we recommend to new patients is for them to start keeping a food journal.
Keeping a food journal means writing down what you ate, when you ate it and how you felt when you were eating it. Were you really hungry or were you bored? Stressed out? All these facts are important
Food journaling also provides you with a concrete record to review and learn from. You will start to see some patterns and trends when you look at your journal. Maybe you eat more after a stressful situation or too late at night. It is a valuable tool in your weight loss efforts.
#2. Smaller plates/smaller portions
It’s easy to fill your bowl or plate without really considering what the appropriate portion size is that you should be eating. In fact, research has shown that simply eating dinner from a smaller plate can help encourage weight loss by tricking the mind into thinking it is eating more.
Another portion-control strategy we recommend for weight loss patients is to cut everything in half and package up the other half for the next day before eating, so you are not tempted to eat more.
It’s almost impossible to accurately measure portions when eating out, of course, but there are rules of thumb that can be helpful to avoid over eating. Try eating about a fistful of pasta, for example, and take the rest home. Meat portions should be the size of a deck of cards or the size of your palm. Share a meal when possible, since the first few bites of something are the best anyway. Put your fork down between bites so your body has time to catch up and feel full.
#3. Get Moving
Exercise and active lifestyles are a crucial part of any effective weight loss strategy. You don’t need to run out and join a cross-fit class, unless you want to, but it is important to get moving in some way.
Even the simple act of parking farther away from the store when shopping or taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator can help to increase the amount of calories burned. Similarly, try walking, jogging or biking to nearby errands when possible instead of taking the car.
When you are ready to consider a more formal exercise regime, try joining a gym or buying some weights and do some simple muscle building exercises at home when you can work it in. Research suggests that weight resistance exercises twice a week and cardio four to five times a week is a good mix for achieving the fastest results.
In order to ensure long-term weight loss, it’s important to consider strategies for how to stay motivated for the long haul. Getting a walking partner or joining a weekend bicycle group can help build a supportive community that can keep you on track. Learning to play tennis with a partner or friend may be a great addition to your social life.
The trick is to find something you enjoy doing so you will stick with it and it won’t seem like so much work. An added benefit is in addition to promoting weight loss, exercise will improve your mood.
#4. Drink More Water/Cut Out Soda
One of the simplest lifestyle changes to make when considering how to lose weight, and one of the most important, is giving up drinking soda. Soda provides zero nutritional value and is a fast way to gain weight. We recommend our patients replace the soda in their diet with more water. Because dehydration can sometimes be mistaken for hunger, drinking water helps you feel fuller before meals, causing you to actually eat less.
#5. Eat Breakfast
Studies have shown that skipping breakfast is associated with weight gain and other negative health impacts, because people tend to make up for their missed breakfast by over eating later. Better appetite control gained by eating breakfast, means you will eat less at other meals and snacks, and this improves your ability to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight in the long term.
#6. Don’t Quit if You Deviate
Nobody is perfect, and holding yourself to unrealistically high standards can be a recipe for failure. The time eventually comes, when you will find yourself in a situation were making the best food choice appears to be impossible. But you always have a choice, so stay strong, and apply “moderation.”
If you are choosing to eat something that’s less than ideal, choose a small portion of the offered food, eat slowly and do not go back for a second serving. The consequences of poor quality food choices are dose related. This means that the odd deviation will not sabotage your weight loss efforts, but if you let that single occasion ruin your resolve you will have lost the battle.
Stay focused. Don’t let deviations sabotage your efforts – see them for what they are just small deviations – nothing more.
#7. Get assistance from a professional registered dietitian or other certified medical professionals
At all times weight loss efforts are difficult in a modern world that promotes the wrong food choices at every turn and inactivity as a way for life. Evidence shows that professional support can and will help you realize your weight loss goals.
Our providers at LifeStyle Medical Center can be your partners in your journey on how to lose weight. Our interdisciplinary team includes doctors, nurse practitioners and registered dietitians who look at your complete lifestyle. That means taking everything into consideration: your eating habits, your occupation, any medical conditions you may have, exercise regime, daily activity and body composition, and then formulating a plan that’s specifically tailored for you.
You do not have to do this alone. We are here to help you be successful. Contact us today to learn more.