Baby steps to weight loss in the new year

New Year’s 2011 has come and gone. New Year’s resolutions have been set…. and possibly already broken. It is believed that less than 10 percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them.

This year, I want to challenge you to think twice before setting that same old New Year’s resolution. Or, if you’ve already broken the resolutions you set at the beginning of January - I want to encourage you to start fresh today.

Is one of your goals to lose weight in 2011? Don’t start out by setting your expectations too high. If you plan to follow a super-strict diet and work out vigorously every single day, you are likely setting yourself up for failure. Instead, start small, and make realistic, consistent lifestyle changes that you can actually maintain.

Consider adopting one or more of my five favorite “baby steps” to weight loss and weight management:

1. Move more every day. Our daily lives have become so sedentary that adding little bits of movement throughout the day can really add up. Take a 15-minute walk break at lunch. Visit the gym a few times a week. Try a dance class. Consider using a pedometer to track your steps each day, and aim for consistently increasing your daily steps. (The Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook offers a great scientific pedometer for sale at the front desk). Our fitness and weight management manager and fitness expert, Chad Hodson, encourages people to aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week.

2. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat, but great sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Aim to include at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal and another one or two as snacks between meals. More fiber helps to keep you feeling full longer, keeps blood sugar levels steadier, and may decrease the urge to snack on less-healthy junk foods.

3. Eat a healthy breakfast. Studies have repeatedly shown that regular breakfast-eaters tend to weigh less than non-breakfast-eaters. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, but start your day with a healthy breakfast that ideally includes a healthy carbohydrate plus healthy protein. A great at-home solution could be as simple as a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread plus some berries. If you must pick up fast food, try one of the egg white sandwiches on a whole-grain English muffin. You can find that option now at several fast food restaurants.

4. Cut out liquid calories. That regular soda, fruit juice or sugar-sweetened ice tea really piles on extra calories. So does the grande or venti-sized mocha latte. Make an effort to drink more plain water. Unsweetened tea or coffee is fine in moderation, too. One of my other favorite tricks if I’m craving something bubbly is to have plain seltzer or club soda with just a splash of real fruit juice - I get the carbonation of soda with the sweet taste of juice for a much lower calorie load.

5. Finally, practice eating mindfully. Most Americans simply eat too fast. With our busy lifestyles, it is easy to get into the habit of eating way too quickly and not chewing our food well. Our brain doesn’t even have time to register that our stomach is full. Practice slowing down, taking smaller bites, and chewing your food well. Listen to your hunger and fullness cues, and practice stopping eating when satisfied, not full.

My best wishes to you for a healthy and happy New Year!

Angie Tillman is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and director of the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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