There are seemingly dozens of ways to lose weight. The obvious ways are eat better, exercise more and generally live a healthier overall lifestyle. But doing so isn’t as easy as it may sound. If it was, we wouldn’t be looking at a nationwide obesity epidemic. Right now, the majority of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, which increases the likelihood of developing several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. As a result of these increasing health concerns, many adults strive to lose weight. But despite the availability of weight loss programs, achieving and maintaining weight loss is difficult for many people.
Blount Memorial registered dietitian Chelsi Cardoso says achieving lasting weight loss requires some understanding. “Our weight is a reflection of our energy balance – calories in versus calories out,” she said. “Weight loss occurs when we consume fewer calories than we burn or when we achieve a calorie deficit. This equation sounds simple, but the complicated part is that we need to make lifestyle changes in order to achieve a calorie deficit. People who have successfully lost weight are prone to certain traits and tasks. For starters, they reduce their caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day to assist with a slow, steady weight loss of one to two pounds a week. This can be done with virtually any type of diet. Next, they engage in 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five times per week. They also limit television viewing to less than 10 hours each week, as well as track their food and drink intake daily and measure their body weight at least once per week,” she explained. “The trick for people trying to lose weight is figuring out how to apply these changes to their everyday routines,” she added.
Cardoso says there are three key steps to begin trying to lose weight. “First, you want to begin tracking your current eating and physical activity,” Cardoso said. “This will allow you to see what adjustments you need to make to achieve your weight loss goals. Second, you really should evaluate and examine those goals. Remember, this is about changing your behaviors, so you need to design and customize your goals in ways that make them more achievable. Part of this includes positive thinking. Instead of saying ‘I will stop eating so much,’ be more positive by saying ‘I will plan dinner menus with no more than 500 calories.’ Instead of saying ‘I will get more physical activity,’ lock yourself into a specific time by saying ‘I will walk 20 minutes on Tuesday after work.’ This also involves setting goals that are realistic and reachable. Instead of saying ‘I will never eat fast food again,’ try ‘I will decrease the number of times I eat fast food from four times a month to just two times a month,’” she explained. “Time frame is important, too, so it’s critical not to be too vague or open-ended. Don’t say ‘I will lose two pounds,’ say ‘I will lose two pounds by June 15,’” she added.
The third key step, Cardoso says, is finding the right plan for your needs. “Come up with a plan to help you achieve your goals,” she said. “Achieving a healthy weight is more than following fad diets and changing what is in your cupboard. It’s about making lifestyle changes and sustaining those changes over time. Do a little research to find a plan that’s right for you, and talk with your health care provider or a registered dietitian if you have questions or need some guidance,” she added.