As the new year begins, many of us think about making changes to our lives to be healthier, which often includes weight loss goals. Have you been more active? Are you eating better and moving more, but finding progress on your weight loss goals to be frustrating? While sticking to your resolution to lose weight may be challenging, Advanced Laparoscopic Associates (ALA) has weight loss tips to make staying on track easier.
Set Realistic Expectations
First, set realistic and concrete expectations about your goals for weight loss:
- Aim for slow, modest weight loss
- Set specific, measurable goals
- Move at your own pace to reach them
For example, instead of saying “I’ll be more active,” set a smart goal for weight loss such as, “I’ll take a walk after lunch at least two days each week.” Also, expect setbacks as they happen to everyone. Forgive yourself, adjust your plan, and focus on meeting your goals again as soon as you can.
Find What Motivates You
People have a variety of reasons for wanting to lose weight. Think about why you want to be healthier, and remind yourself often of your “why.” Perhaps you want to have more energy to play with your children or to be able to carry your own grocery bags to your car at the grocery store. When setbacks occur, remember your reasons for making changes and then make the decision to get back on track.
Prioritize Healthy Food Options
When making dietary changes to support your weight loss goals, prioritize foods and beverages that are rich in nutrients, such as:
- Colorful fruits and vegetables, like collard greens, kale, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes
- Whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-grain bread and pastas, and brown rice
- Seafood, lean meats, poultry, and eggs
- Beans, peas, unsalted nuts, and seeds
- Low-fat milk and milk products
Limit foods and drinks that pack a lot of calories, but lack the essential nutrients your body needs, such as:
- Sugar-sweetened drinks and foods
- Foods with solid fats like butter, margarine, lard, and shortening
- White bread, rice, and pasta made from refined grains
- Foods with added salt
When making your grocery list, fill it with nutrient-dense foods and stick to it. Never shop when you’re hungry! Your cravings will take over your grocery list and you’ll likely find yourself reaching for less healthy food options.
Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
Whether you’re at home, at work, or on the go, snacks can help combat hunger and prevent overeating, as long as you include healthy choices and snack mindfully. A “recipe” for healthier snacks to keep on hand includes:
- Baby carrots or sugar snap peas with hummus
- Fresh fruit
- Nuts or beans (like hummus)
- Low-fat dairy (string cheese)
- A whole grain, such as whole-wheat bread or whole-grain crackers and guacamole
These types of snacks are easy to prepare in advance for the week. Many of them even come individually prepacked in the produce section of your grocery store. A combination of these healthy food groups also gives your snacks more “staying power” to keep you from getting hungry before meal time. Don’t forget to include a glass of water with your snack instead of a sweetened beverage.
Don’t keep foods high in fat, added-sugar or salt in your home, workplace or car because you can’t consume what’s not there. Limiting high-calorie sports drinks and packaged, processed snacks, like chips or cookies, can help you reach your weight loss goals.
Remember – Moderation is Key
Adopting a flexible mindset about what to eat and drink can help you feel better and achieve your weight loss goals. Ditch “all-or-nothing” thinking, which can lead to negative self-talk or being hard on yourself for small indulgences, overeating or even weight gain.
When you feel the desire to splurge in less healthy ways, try something else first, such as drinking a glass of water, eating a piece of fruit, or walking around your house or office for five minutes. These diversions might be enough to help you resist those less healthy temptations.
Practice Mindful Eating
Eating mindfully helps you slow down when consuming a meal and gives your body time to signal your brain that you’re full, which typically takes about 20 minutes. Practicing mindful eating also allows you to really taste and enjoy your food.
When eating, focus on the taste, texture, and flavor in each bite of food and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Keeping a food journal may help you recognize these cues. Eating more mindfully can start with something as simple as sitting down at the table for your meals. You may even notice something new about a food you’ve been eating for years.
Making physical activity a priority can help you to achieve your weight loss goals. Being physically active may also help you start feeling better by boosting mood, sharpening focus, reducing stress, and improving sleep.
There are many ways to be active, including walking, dancing, gardening or lifting weights. Try to do at least 150 minutes (combined) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. If your time is limited, add in small amounts of physical activity throughout your day. Not sure where to start? Make a list of exercise options that appeal to you, and stick with what you enjoy. For example, each time you get up from your desk, do 10 squats. And remember, some physical activity each day is better than none.
Make a Plan
Sticking to your weight loss goals when dining out or traveling is challenging because you have less control of your food choices and availability. Planning ahead will help avoid setbacks and ease stress. When eating out, share an entrée with a friend, or eat only half your meal and take the rest home. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about ingredients or how the food is cooked. You also can ask to leave less healthy items out or replace them with healthier choices. View the menu online beforehand so you know your choices.
Before you travel, think about any challenges that may arise and plan for how to manage them on your trip. Think in advance about how you will make healthy food choices and get enough physical activity, while also enjoying your vacation. If you’re able to pack healthy snacks, do so. Look online for grocery stores and healthy restaurants near where you will be staying.
Track Your Progress
Use a diary or food journal to help you track the foods and beverages you consume in a day, allowing you to see when you’re eating a healthy diet and when you might be slipping into less healthy eating or drinking patterns. You can also track your weight and measurements to help you see the progress you are making toward your weight loss goals. Using an app on your mobile phone is a popular way to track your goals and improve your health. Find a health app that best fits your weight loss goals and habits.
Find a Diet and Exercise Partner
Your family and friends can be a great source of support as you work toward your weight loss goals, and they may even want to join you on the weight loss journey. Plan healthy meals with your family or start a healthy potluck once a week at work. Recruiting others to be active with you will help you stay motivated too. Consider signing up for a fun fitness class together. Many fitness classes are now available online to keep you safe from COVID-19 by staying home, but also still connected to your fellow classmates. By making healthy choices together, you may find it’s easier to achieve your weight loss goals.
The Aftercare Advantage at ALA
If you’ve recently had bariatric surgery, sticking to a healthy eating plan is even more important than ever. The ALA Aftercare Advantage post-op program provides ongoing support and helps you focus on your unique, individual needs after bariatric surgery. A nurse, dietitian and fitness advisor work with you to provide the support and expert advice you need to modify your behaviors and your relationship with food by creating an individual aftercare plan specific to you.
If you’re interested in bariatric surgery, watch our free webinar and request an appointment with one of our surgeons. Our team at Advanced Laparoscopic Associates can help keep you on track toward your goals for weight loss.