- By Dana Sparks
Trying to Lose Weight? Six Strategies for Success
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. — If you want to lose weight, you can’t expect it to happen quickly, and it will require work. Here are some tips that can help you become successful in a healthy way.
1. Make a commitment: This means a lifelong commitment. “You must be ready to make permanent changes to support your health.” says Martin Oates, M.D., family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Prairie du Chien. Dr. Oates goes on to say, “This requires you to focus on placing your mental and physical energy into changing your habits.” Make a plan to address other stresses in your life as well (i.e. financial issues or relationship problems).
2. Find inner motivation: If you want to lose weight, nobody else can make it happen. You have to find a reason to lose the weight. What’s going to drive you to want to lose the weight? This could be an upcoming beach vacation, a special someone or overall better health. Posting encouraging notes to yourself can help as well. Try to log your weight loss in a journal as this will help you see how far you’ve come and motivate you to keep going. Also, create a support group consisting of people whom you trust to give you unwavering support and encourage you without shame or sabotage.
3. Set realistic goals: What is a realistic weight loss goal? It’s realistic to lose no more than two pounds per week. Initially you may lose weight more rapidly if you make drastic lifestyle changes. To lose one to two pounds per week, you have to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day.
You can get SMART:
An example of a SMART goal would be to walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for the next three months, and then logging your results.
4. Enjoy healthier foods: You have to change your diet if you’re going to lose weight. Eating healthier foods doesn’t mean giving up taste, satisfaction or the ease of meal preparation. You need to lower your caloric intake, and this can be done in a couple different ways. Eating more plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help. Try to maintain variety so that you don’t get bored. Variety makes you less likely to eat unhealthy foods. It’s important to eat breakfast every day and use healthy oils when cooking (i.e. olive oil, vegetable oil or nut butters). Get four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit per day, and keep your meat consumption to about three ounces (about the size of a deck of cards).
5. Get active, stay active: One pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories.. So, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose one pound of fat. Cutting calories from your diet, combined with regular exercise, can help you really lose weight. “Exercise can help you burn off those excess calories you can’t cut through your diet,” explains Dr. Oates. There are also numerous health benefits to exercise, including boosting your mood, improved cardiovascular health and reduced blood pressure. One of the best ways to lose body fat is through steady aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, most days of the week. If you can’t fit a steady exercise plan into your busy life, think about ways you can increase your physical activity throughout the day (i.e. taking the stairs or parking at the far end of the lot).
6. Change your perspective: Weight loss starts with taking an honest look at your exercise and eating habits. You must make lifestyle changes to lose weight. You can’t simply work out and eat right for a few weeks. Once you’ve identified your barriers to weight loss, try to work out a plan to attain your goals. Weight loss involves not being afraid to take a long, hard look in the mirror and telling yourself some tough truths. Once you’ve gone through this process, you can better understand what it will take to attain your goals.
Rick Thiesse, Mayo Clinic Health System, 507-284-5005, [email protected]