Set Realistic Goals
The foundation of every successful weight loss program remains a healthy, calorie-controlled diet combined with exercise. For successful, long-term weight loss, you must make permanent changes in your lifestyle and health habits. It may seem obvious to set realistic weight loss goals, but do you really know what’s realistic? Over the long term, it’s best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds a week, To lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular exercise.
Enjoy Healthier Foods
In particular, get your weight loss started by eating a healthy breakfast every day; eating at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits daily; and using healthy fats, such as olive oil and vegetable oils. In addition, cut back on sugar (one soda a day = 50lbs of sugar you consume per year), choose low-fat dairy products and keep meat consumption to around a 3-ounce portion, about the size of a deck of cards. Cut back or just eliminate sodas, decrease carbohydrates (breads, pasta, potato, French fries, etc…), fatty and greasy foods.
Smaller Portion Sizes
Americans typically consume more calories because of a larger portions size. The old adage of more is better, or going to an all you can eat buffet. We’ve all done that, and a lot of times, we feel very full afterwards. In fact, we usually feel bloated or sick after eating too much. There are easy ways and more complex ways to figuring out correct portion size. To keep it simplistic, reduce your normal portion size by about 1/3. This should help considerably.
Here is a list of portion sizes based on the USDA recommendations:
According to the USDA, one serving equals:
- one slice of whole-grain bread
- 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta
- 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes
- three to four small crackers
- one small pancake or waffle
- two medium-sized cookies
- 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
- 1 cup (four leaves) lettuce
- one small baked potato
- 3/4 cup vegetable juice
- one medium apple
- 1/2 grapefruit or mango
- 1/2 cup berries
- 1 cup yogurt or milk
- 1 1/2 ounces of cheddar cheese
- one chicken breast
- one medium pork chop
- 1/4 pound hamburger patty
Get Active and Stay Active
While you can lose weight without exercise, exercise plus calorie restriction can help give you the weight-loss edge. Exercise can help burn off the excess calories you can’t cut through diet alone. Exercise also offers numerous health benefits, including boosting your mood, strengthening your cardiovascular system and reducing your blood pressure. Exercise can also help in maintaining weight loss. Studies show that people who maintain their weight loss over the long term get regular physical activity.
The key to weight loss is burning more calories than you consume. Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.5 kilogram) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. So if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you’d lose about 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).
How many calories you burn depends on the frequency, duration and intensity of your activities or workouts. One of the best ways to lose body fat is through a steady aerobic exercise, such as riding a bike or stationary bike, brisk walking, stepping on a standing or seated elliptical all for at least 30 minutes 4-5 days a week. Any extra movement helps burn calories, though. Lifestyle activities may be easier to fit into your day rather than going to a gym. Think about ways you can increase your physical activity throughout the day if you can’t fit in formal exercise on a given day. For example, make several trips up and down stairs instead of using the elevator, or park at the far end of the lot when you go to work or go shopping. Formal exercise is one of the best ways to burn calories. The equipment that you find at Spectrum Therapy or in the gym is made very well to allow for great cardiovascular exercises. Gym activities will allow you to reach your target heart rate much easier than activities of daily living. Make sure you ask your MD to see if you should follow any precautions during exercise.
Change your Habits
It’s not enough to eat healthy foods and exercise for only a few weeks or even months if you want long-term, successful weight loss. These habits must become a way of life. Lifestyle changes start with taking an honest look at your eating patterns and daily routine. After assessing your personal challenges to weight loss, try working out a strategy to gradually change habits and attitudes that have sabotaged your past efforts. You likely will have an occasional setback. But instead of giving up entirely after a setback, simply start fresh the next day. Remember that you’re planning to change your life. It won’t happen all at once. Stick to your healthy lifestyle and the results will be worth it.
*If you have special dietary needs or concerns, please talk to your physician about your particular diet.
Dr. Gary Welch PT, CFCE, CFMT, CKTP, COMT
Owner – Spectrum Physical Therapy