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5 proven strategies to lose weight and keep it off

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Weight loss: It’s the number one New Year’s resolution people make. SIU Medicine registered dietitians say it may be the wrong resolution to choose. While losing weight for your overall health is a great goal to have, most people go about it the wrong way.

As losing weight is the result of a behavior change, it is not enough to proclaim that you are going to lose weight in 2020. Instead it takes preparation, accountability, structure and focus to eat healthier. The first step in this process is acknowledging that making these shifts in mindset is the first step to weight loss. The process of losing weight is truly a lifestyle change and needs to be treated as such.

Although losing weight and keeping it off takes a lot of hard work, it is completely doable with the right knowledge. Here are SIU Medicine dietitians’ top tips for taking your weight loss journey seriously, and actually achieving your goal of being healthier and transforming your life this year.

1. Be prepared

Think through what this means for your day-to-day routines. Likely your regular actions will need to change and therefore planning and preparation is key. Plan meals in advance, make healthy options easily accessible and make snacks and meals travel-friendly. Stock your favorite snacks, like carrots, cucumber, green pepper strips or celery that you know you like and will eat. To make things even easier, consider buying pre-cut veggies from the grocery store and individual servings of low calorie dressing.

Not feeling fruits or veggies? Work vegetables into your meal by chopping them small and mixing it into the meal somewhere. If you’re making spaghetti with meat sauce, try adding diced carrots. Opt for lean protein, such as chicken breasts, low-fat dairy and fish, or plant proteins like beans and lentils. Look for recipes online, bean tacos and lentil loaf can be tasty! Prepare mentally for an adjustment to how things taste, and what you eat. How you feel physically will make up for your less exciting meal options.

Grocery shop from a list! Having a list helps you buy the items that will keep you on track when making new choices. And, don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry. Going when you are hungry can influence what you put in your grocery cart.

Bonus tip: Try placing a bowl of fruit on the counter or in the refrigerator where you’re most likely to see it. Clean your produce as soon as you bring it in the house. You’re more likely to actually eat it if it’s ready to eat. Rinse berries in a wash of 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water. It helps them stay fresh longer.

2. Create accountability

To successfully create a lifestyle change, you need accountability. Whether you enroll in a program face-to-face or online, see a trainer, health professional or friend, or keep record of what you eat, you need to hold yourself accountable and making it less likely you’ll give in to temptations around you. If you have a day where you aren’t able to stay on your eating plan, forgive yourself and pick up on it again tomorrow.

3. Give structure to your eating

Having a structured meal routine is important in the weight loss journey. Make sure you eat high quality, lean protein at all meals, including breakfast. In between meals, have a healthy snack to curb hunger. Snacks should be 100-200 calories, at most. Aim to eat at least five cups of non-starchy fruits and vegetables, such as berries, watermelon, citrus fruits, carrots and green beans, each day. Eat from a smaller plate if you have tendencies of overeating. Chew more slowly. Enjoy the meal, don’t rush.

Bonus tip: Focus on what you can eat, not what you can’t eat.

4. Watch for hidden calories

There are hidden calories in so many of things we consume daily. One of the first things that should be eliminated from your diet is drinking your calories and carbohydrates. Coffee drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages and soda all contribute to huge amounts of calories, sugar, and, in some cases, fat, you are consuming. For every 4 grams of carbohydrates, you’re eating 1 teaspoon of sugar. It’s recommended that women limit to 6 teaspoons added sugar and men limit to 9 teaspoons added sugar daily.

Fast food is another culprit for many of us. The ease and cost make it a no-brainer for many of us, not realizing it is the exact reason why we’re overweight in the first place. Use the calories listed on the menu board and keep your meal to less than 500 calories as a woman or no more than 600 calories for men when eating out.

5. Include exercise            

Our bodies are made to move – they want to move! Therefore adding exercise to your weight loss journey is an easy way to get to your goals faster. Even if you’re not doing vigorous workouts, exercise does so much for our minds. Getting a little exercise or movement in every day will lead to many benefits to your overall life.

Make the right resolution this year - to be healthy. If losing weight is on your list of priorities for your health this year, go about it the right way, which is to prepare, stay accountable, be structured, exercise and focus on eating healthier.

If you need assistance during your weight loss journey, call SIU Medicine at 217-545-8000 to schedule an appointment with one of our expert dietitians.  

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