Losing weight has benefits that go far beyond a smaller pant size. If you’re overweight, reducing just 5-10% of total body weight has countless health benefits that include improved cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as lower blood sugar levels—all of which can reduce your risk of heart disease. But losing weight isn’t always easy because it involves creating new habits like modifying food choices and increasing physical activity. It can help to start small with these tips to create sustainable changes:
- Set specific and realistic goals. Losing weight may be your ultimate goal, but it’s vague and more of an outcome than a goal. Your goal should be the behavior(s) that you adopt to support that outcome. Some ideas may be to commit to eating more vegetables at dinner, choosing fruit for snacks or to reduce the amount of added sugar you consume. Short term, achievable goals can help to keep you on track and set you up for success reaching your long term goal of weight loss.
- Be mindful of your eating habits. Taking a good look at what you eat, how much you eat and how often can help to identify where you can make some changes. Using an app to track your intake for a minimum of three consecutive days can be an eye opening experience to see exactly where your calories are coming from; this promotes awareness, which is the first step toward change.
- Right size your portions. Portion sizes have increased over the years and so have our dinner plates. Research shows that eating off larger plates correlates with serving ourselves larger portions, and if you serve yourself larger portions, it stands to reason that you’ll eat more food and take in more calories. Get familiar with what an actual portion size is and aim to use 8-9 inch dinner plates at meal time.
- Choose smart substitutions. Cut calories, but not flavor. Make smart substitutions like using plain Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise or sour cream, choose evaporated skim milk in place of cream in your coffee, opt for a tablespoon of chopped nuts in place of granola topped on yogurt or oatmeal and use cinnamon to flavor foods in place of sugar. These small changes can help you enjoy your favorite foods without all the fat and calories.
- Be physically active.
Create more movement in your day. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. This amounts to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. If you’re time-crunched, it doesn’t have to be done all at once, break up exercise into 10 minute increments throughout the day to hit the total of 30 minutes. Additionally add more movement throughout the day by pacing while on the phone, walk around the house or the office once every hour and take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
Content submitted by: Janyce Gately MS, RD, LDN CHC