It’s no surprise that diets do not work for long-term weight management. Drastically cutting calories, eliminating food groups, or deprivation of foods that are enjoyed are not sustainable over time. Successful weight loss comes from lifestyle change, developing a healthy relationship with food, and physical activity.
When counseling patients who are experiencing excess weight or obesity, these ten tips can help them stay on track to achieve and maintain health goals.
1. Set Appropriate Goals
There is no denying the satisfaction that can come from setting and achieving a goal. Motivation to reach goals can trigger new behaviors and guide focus. However, this only works if the goal is realistic and achievable. Aiming for a particular number on the scale, clothing size, or body measurements can lead to frustration and demotivation if the goals is not realistic. Encourage patients to stop worrying about reaching a specific weight target and rather focus on setting a goal of losing 5-10% of total body weight. This is much more realistic and also has a beneficial impact on reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases.
2. Be Accountable by Being Aware
You can only be accountable for what you can measure. And, maintaining accountability also maintains motivation. Research shows that tracking food, weight, and activity is effective for sustained weight loss. Simply put, awareness creates accountability.
- Food: Calories count. Tracking what is consumed will help ensure proper calorie intake to prevent weight gain.
- Exercise: According to Yale University, most people (about 9 out of 10) lose weight, and keep it off, when they get about an hour of physical activity daily. According to the American Heart Association, a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise aids in prevention of weight gain. Tracking exercise can ensure those goals are met.
- Weight: Studies show that people who maintain weight loss participate in weekly weigh-ins and self-measurement. It creates awareness of upward trends in weight and allows for the creation of a plan to get back on track.
3. Use Mindful Eating Techniques
Mindfulness is an intentional focus on thoughts and actions in the present moment; being aware without reaction. In practice, mindful eating means giving full attention to eating, using physical and emotional senses to enjoy food, how it tastes, looks, and feelings of hunger or fullness without distraction. Regular practice of mindful eating promotes better food choices, helps reduce portion sizes, and drives greater attention to food labels, and prevents overeating.
4. Seek Social Support
A positive mindset for weight loss can be bolstered by support from a family member, friend, coworker or even a virtual or in-person support group. Having support creates a sense of community to share questions, struggles, and triumphs. Research shows how social support provides accountability and camaraderie that ultimately helps sustain weight loss.
5. Focus on the Why
Knowing and focusing on the “why” for weight loss will help make the journey more meaningful. But, those reasons need to come from within the patient in order to be motivating and lasting. Doing something simply because someone else told us to do it is not the most effective motivator. Focusing on the personal “why” helps individuals stay committed and overcome challenges or mistakes when they occur. When health becomes the reason “why”, versus appearance, evidence shows high likelihood of long-term success, greater weight loss, and less weight gain.
6. Reframe Failure
There will always be a time when there is a “slip up” or even an unintentional extended “vacation” from lifestyle modifications. What’s most important is to not consider it a failure. Ask what circumstances, behaviors, or attitude shifts led to it slip up. From there, identify what can be done differently and realign with the “why”. Learning is fundamental for long-term changes.
7. Stay Hydrated.
This sounds easy, but beverages are the leading source of added sugars in our diets. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended amount of sugar intake should not exceed 150 calories or 36 grams – yet one can of soda contains 32 grams of added sugar! Drink plenty of water or other no-calorie unsweetened beverages. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, juice, flavored coffees. Those calories add up.
8. Avoid Absolutes.
Words like “never”, “always” or “must” are detrimental for success. As long as the “why” remains the same, it’s realistic to indulge on special occasions. The key is not to feel guilty about it. Smaller portions of high calorie foods allow for enjoyment and are part of lasting lifestyle change.
9. Plan for Challenges.
Temptations are easier to avoid when they are anticipated. Identify who, what, where a temptation may strike and have a plan in place. It can be an alternate food, healthy snack, or diet-friendly food. Face challenge and obstacles with a sense of empowerment and confidence to stay motivated and committed to lifestyle changes.
1o. Plan for Busy Days:
Failure to plan, is planning to fail. Busy schedules can easily trigger unhealthy choices. When meals are planned in advance, eating will not be influenced by hunger. Creating a nutritious menu for busy days and meal prepping makes it easier to stay on track, committed, and motivated.
To get started with CoreLife, contact us at (800)905-3261 or fill out the “Contact Us” form and one our Patient Navigators will give you a call.
American Heart Association