Longtime VA registered Dietetic technician offers sage advice on keeping resolutions to lose weight in 2015
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Did you stick to it?
With good intentions, many aim to change their life by leading a healthier lifestyle but often they fail at making these changes permanent. At the start of any change there needs to be both a strong desire and a strong goal. A goal needs to have several reasons WHY you want to reach that goal. This can offer a better connection for behavior changes and therefore help with your motivation .
Some examples are: “I want to lose weight so that I can play with my kids without getting out of breath,” or “I want to lose weight so that I can get my diabetes under control.” It’s not just the simple goal of losing weight – there are reasons why this would be beneficial.
Make your goals SMART:
Specific: There are specific actions to take to reach the goal (e.g. reduce foods high in calories).
Measurable: You know how much to do and when the goal has been achieved (e.g. walk every other day starting with 10 minutes then gradually increase to a goal of 30 minutes each day).
Action-oriented: You need to take action to achieve your goals (e.g. don’t buy sweets for the house).
Realistic: The goal is practical, given your resources and time (e.g. if unable to walk every day, maybe walk 4 times each week).
Time-based: There is a specific time frame to achieve the goal (e.g. Work up to 30 minutes of walking, 4 times per week by the last day in February).
Only set one-two goals at a time so that you don’t get overwhelmed with too many changes. This will help you to concentrate on the changes that you would like to make without getting frustrated.
How to get started if your goal is to lose weight:
- Figure out your calorie needs based on how many you are eating right now. From that number you take away some to see a calorie-deficit (more calories burned than eaten or exercised off) – this will promote weight loss.
- Achieving a half pound to two pound weight loss a week is ideal to make sure you are losing fat, not muscle. To achieve a one pound weight loss you will need to eat approximately 500 calories less per day than your usual intake OR burn an additional 500 calories through exercise. An alternative is to choose a combination of decreased calorie intake and increased calorie burn to meet your goal.
- Plan your meals and exercise plan to help you achieve your goal of weight loss. Remember, you do not gain weight overnight so do not expect to lose it in one week. Planning is the key.
- Make small, reachable goals and once you reach them reward yourself by doing something special for yourself. Know that setbacks are normal, the goal is bouncing back into your healthy ways right away.
- Weigh yourself daily to assess your progress; if daily seems too much for you, even 1-2 times per week can be beneficial.
- Read food labels so that you can track and achieve your daily caloric goal to lose weight
Go to Choose My Plate (USDA) for more tips on healthy eating.
- Incorporate healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet. Log on to the Fruits and Veggies-More Matters site, there they have a list of produce to see What’s In Season.
- Be more active. What type of exercise do you like to do or what would you like to try? Look on the VA’s MOVE website for Tips to Increase Physical Activity.
- To help with accountability, try finding a walking/exercise partner. Have your exercise clothes and shoes set out the night before and ready for the morning. Find out what time is good for you to exercise during the day so that you can stick with it. You can break up your exercise into 10 minute segments throughout the day if you don’t have time to do it all at once.
- For more tips to get your New Year resolution off to a good start, check out the Basics of Weight Control and other education materials on the MOVE website.
Good Luck! This is New Year which for many means a new start on their health goals! For additional help contact your local VA PACT dietitian, or local MOVE! /TeleMove weight management program.
If you are interested in reading more about weight management, check out the position statement from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association). They recognize that successful weight management will improve overall health and that it requires a lifelong commitment to healthful lifestyle behaviors. Weight Management Position Statement
Dawn Hart is a Registered Dietetic Technician. She has worked at the Durham VA Medical Center since 2010. She has been a Registered Dietetic Technician for 20 years working in multiple venues including healthcare and school environments. Currently, Dawn teaches classes in the VA’s MOVE and the Healthy Teaching Kitchen programs.