Lasting Results: Take Baby Steps, Not Giant Leaps
By Sara Bennett, BSN RN
If your goal is to take off big pounds and keep them off, you can achieve permanent results by making small tweaks to your weight loss routine every week. There’s no need to try to do too much at one time. For instance, every day, you could opt for using smaller plates or exercise for 5 minutes longer. Weight control, whether related to bariatric surgery or not, is all about making small changes that you can live with forever. As you incorporate these minor adjustments into your lifestyle, you'll begin to see how they can add up to big calorie savings and weight loss. Here are some tips to help you turn your dream of weight loss into a reality:
1. Evaluate your eating habits. Are you eating late at night? Are you nibbling while cooking or finishing the kids' meals? Take a look around, and it will be easy to identify a few behaviors you can change that will add up to big calorie savings.
2. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. You need a strategy for your meals and snacks. Pack healthful snacks for the times of day that you know you are typically hungry and can easily stray from your eating plan. It’s the moments when we aren’t prepared that we are most likely to choose those convenience foods that are loaded with carbohydrates and fat, just because they are quick and easy.
3. Always shop with a full belly. It's a recipe for disaster to go into the grocery store when you are hungry. You should shop from a prepared list so impulse buying is kept to a minimum. Eating right starts with stocking healthy food in your pantry and refrigerator as well as not purchasing food that you know you can't resist.
4. Eat regular meals. Figure out the frequency of your meals that works best in your life and stick to it. Regular meals help prevent getting over hunger and then over eating.
5. Eat your food sitting down at a table, and from a plate. Food eaten out of packages and while standing is forgettable. You can wind up eating lots more than if you sit down and consciously enjoy your meals.
6. Serve food onto individual plates, and leave the extras back at the stove. Bowls of food on the table beg to be eaten, and it takes incredible will power not to dig in for seconds. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes for your mind to get the signal from your belly that you are full.
7. Eat slowly, chew every bite, and savor the taste of the food. Try resting your fork between bites. Revisit the taste and texture of food. Savor the flavor of every morsel.
8. Don't eat after dinner. This is where lots of folks pack on the extra pounds. If you are hungry, try satisfying your urge with a non-caloric beverage or a piece of hard candy. Brushing your teeth after dinner helps reduce the temptation to eat again.
9. If you snack during the day, treat the snack like a mini-meal. The most nutritious snacks contain lean protein and complex carbohydrates with fiber.
10. Start your day with breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day. After a long night's rest, your body needs fuel to get your metabolism going and give you energy for the rest of the day.
11. Move with a purpose. Walking as little as 30 minutes a day has a profound effect on your weight loss and overall well-being. Walking helps you build healthy lean muscle, lose inches of fat, and pump up your metabolism.
12. Clean out your pantry. Don’t keep “bad” foods in the house. Everyone at home can make changes and eat better. Remember this is about overall wellness and not just your weight. It is a whole-family approach to health.
13. Shut off the television and go to bed! Studies suggest that a lack of sleep may make weight loss and weight control more of a challenge by altering our metabolism, as well as our eating and activity patterns. Be sure to get enough sleep.
14. Relax. Stress and weight gain (or lack of weight loss) go hand in hand. Though you may not be aware of it, being under constant stress can increase production of the hormone cortisol, which can cause an increase in appetite as well as extra fat storage in the abdominal region.