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?

scaleWith 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:Math

  • 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.plate

  • 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.

DawnHartPicture thumbIf 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.

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Published on Jan. 22, 2015

Estimated reading time is 4.5 min.

Views to date: 146


  1. Ryan Stacker February 9, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    ChooseMyPlate brought me here because I have to make more conscious decisions about my eating habits and health. Gallstones have formed in my gallbladder making it difficult to eat foods I used to enjoy the most (and the unhealthiest). So my diet has completely changed and I’m able to put off gallbladder surgery if I continue to make smart eating decisions. Mainly because having your gallbladder removed is expensive and it’s not something we can afford. I have also found myself in the weight room a few times a week to help gain some muscle as I’ve found that also helps lose weight.

    • Danny February 11, 2015 at 10:06 am

      Hey Ryan, I’m down from from 230 to abt 180; trying for 170. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel! Keep trying, & don’t get upset if you slip. Good luck!

  2. Danny January 25, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    I made a new year’s resolution abt 30 yrs ago and have never broken it. Never again to make a new year’s resolution!

  3. brenda hayes January 24, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I posted here the other day about a MOVE program problem in West Palm, Ft. Pierce, Jupiter CBOCS. WHAT HAPPENED? I heard the new Sec is giving his number out? Plese send it to me as I would like him to know how my Vet husband was treated!!

    “…if you transfer here to Florida…and you go back to Virginia…then you might be “thrown out” of the VA health care system. You can be seen for emergencies only!!

    Duh, he has medical needs–he’s on a blood thinner-clots in both lungs…He’s gained considerable weight…which IS a medical issue!! He finally agreed to do the MOVE program; and they won’t let him in!!! He can’t audit it while the “paperwork” is being processed? What is the ISSUE? MONEY…CBOCS are contractors!! Mr. Secretary, you need to find out about this Vet was treated. We are still waiting for the person at West Palm Move Program to call him to get him into the program???


    Oh, the CYA formerly called Patient Advocates…don’t return phone calls at McGuire VAMC. and you can’t get through to the DIRECTOR!! (Operators were told only to put calls through to the PA…so what do you do when they don’t return calls, Mr. Secretary?
    Seems like you need to add to that 1,000 that were fired!! We’re still NOT believing you, Mr. Secretary!!! Again, I will check and see if my posts gets Deep Sixed!!

    • brenda hayes January 27, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Thank you for posting my Complaints! You can’t fix it unless you know about it!!

      West Palm Finally called and “invited” him into their Move Program!!
      The ISSUE with the Behavior of the CBOCS still need to be addressed; we are available to give direct feedback. This attitude and what the Vet was told is NOT ACCEPTABLE!

      The other ISSUE Definitely NEEDS to be ADDRESSED. They VAMC think they are AUTONOMOUS! The Secretary needs to let them know…they aren’t!! The BUCK stops with the Secretary; he needs to let them know that he can ADD them to the 1,000 and counting list!!

      RICHMOND VAMC (McGUIRE) needs to get a look over from the Secretary. Consider this a direct complaint against them!! It is NOT acceptable for CYA (formerly known as Patient Advocates–Joke) to not return phone calls!! It is NOT OK for the Director to put through a message to the VAMC Operators NOT to put calls through to his office; that the complaints, concerns, etc. can only go though the Patient Affairs (CYA)!! Nothing in place for someone to call if the system is broken. Apparently, it is a Higher Mgmt issue–for the new Secretary!! Something is wrong when the Director will NOT take a call!! This was trying to get an apptmt quicker than a 4-5 day wait for someone who was walking around with leftover blood clot in his heart vein!!! Do they look to do things to ask for 1151? I would appreciate someone calling me and discussing these issues directly? Is there change or just talk of change (SOP)? Appreciatively, HW in charge!! I should NOT be the only one who has his back!! Step up Mr. Secretary!! P.S. Your office has still not fixed the CAPTCHA code problems….that is why I make a copy of my comment prior to hitting SUBMIT!!!

      • Danny January 27, 2015 at 4:23 pm

        Brenda, I believe Secretary McDonald is being kept aware of these posts. Don’t give up on him. Congrats on getting some response! Thank You for standing by my brother veteran.

  4. Dennis Gramm January 22, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    hello Dawn, thanks for the good article…i am an american citizen/vet living in the philippines…can you or someone send me any specific recipes for a health living…i eat the food here, but seem to gain weight…please email with attachments if you can please..thank you, Dennis Gramm dennisgramm@live.com

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