Many of us look back on photos from our young adult years and yearn to squeeze into the jeans we wore back in high school. Depending on how much weight you’ve gained since then, it may time to restructure your weight loss goals. Are you really going to make it back into your size 2 pants as a 45 year old mother of three? That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself! People who use health as a motivation for weight loss often have greater success than those who have goals more closely linked to their appearance. (Though a small dose of healthy narcissism can help!)
Did you know that the health benefits of weight loss can accrue after losing just 3 – 5% of your current weight? Those who lose 5 – 10% have more profound health gains. Shooting for a 3 – 10% weight loss is definitely attainable without surgery or diet pills. You can do that with diet, exercise, self monitoring and weight loss counseling. Don’t expect to see much weight reduction with exercise alone. While it’s crucial to increase your physical activity, restricting calories is the key to success. Often that can be done by inserting more fruits and vegetables into each meal and snack, rather than focusing on restriction of your favorite foods.
Which diet should you choose? There’s the DASH, Mediterranean, Paleo and recently the AARP New American Diet, among others. You can go low protein, high protein, gluten free or flexitarian. While there are pros and cons to various diets, the greatest predictor of success is tenacity. If you stick with it, you’ll do well. If you stray from your diet plan, you will find it harder to reach your goal and keep the weight off. I think Michael Pollan said it best: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. If you stick with that credo, and continue to work at it, you can expect to improve your health with a realistic amount of weight loss (3 – 10%) over the next six months.
When it comes to keeping weight off…we all know it’s a tremendous challenge. Here are a few hints from the National Weight Control Registry. Track your progress and avoid regression by checking your weight at least once a week. Exercise for about 45 minutes to an hour daily. Brisk walking is the routine chosen most often by those on the registry. Remember, this degree of exercise is what you’ll need to do to MAINTAIN your weight loss over years. Eat breakfast each morning, preferably something healthy and filling, such as steel cut oats or fruit & nuts. Limit your screen time to less than 10 hours per week. Less than 5 hours for extra credit!
Whether you make it back into your skinny jeans or just reduce your weight by 3 – 5%, you’ll reap the health benefits for years to come if you focus on your weight today.
Thanks for listening and I wish you the best of health!
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