Whether it’s through friends’ social media posts about their favorite diet supplement, a fitness magazine touting a new way to trim our waistline or a reality TV show about people competing for the lowest number on a scale, we are bombarded with messages about how to lose weight. However, long-term weight management isn’t often discussed, even though it can be just as challenging and equally as important as the weight loss itself.
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for your overall health, as well as for preventing and controlling diseases and other chronic conditions. Losing weight to improve your health is just the first step. Maintaining the weight loss and keeping up your healthy new habits are equally important.
Kim Smith, a certified health coach and wellness education specialist with the Sharp Rees-Stealy Center for Health Management, offers 10 healthy tips to lose unwanted weight — and keep it off.
- Know your needs. On average, women need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day, while men need between 2,000 and 3,000 calories. However, your age, height, lifestyle, general health and activity level can also affect your daily caloric needs.
- Educate yourself. Ditch all the fads and false promises you’ve heard about weight loss and learn about appropriate portions; calorie counts and contents of your favorite foods; and which foods will better fuel your body.
- Find balance. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to learn how to balance your plate with the five food groups that are the building blocks of a healthy diet: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.
- Set realistic goals. Start small and shoot for behavior changes, rather than weight loss. Remember that fluctuations are normal.
- Take note. Keep track of what you eat and drink each day in a food diary or smartphone app to bring accountability. Learn from your diet choices that worked and those that didn’t.
- Increase your activity. It is important to be active a minimum of 45 to 60 minutes each day. Whether you attend scheduled fitness classes or have some spontaneous recreational play, keep moving!
- Focus on health. Rather than obsessing over a number on the scale, take note of how you feel when you are active and eating a well-balanced diet. Do you have more energy? Do your clothes fit better? Have your vital signs — pulse, blood pressure, respiration — improved?
- Persevere. Make yourself a priority, stick with the plan and don’t let others derail your efforts.
- Be kind to yourself. Have patience — old habits die hard and new behaviors take time to learn. Make sure you have variety both in your diet and your activities, and practice moderation in all you do.
- Create motivation. If you practice your new healthy habits long enough, you will begin to see results and be motivated to continue. Focus on the destination and enjoy the ride!