10 Tips for Lasting Weight Loss

More than half of Americans are trying to lose weight, recent studies show.

There is no doubt that obesity — or just being a few pounds overweight — has hit a nerve with the national consciousness.

Surveys show that individuals are drinking more diet sodas, reading more nutrition labels and more are at least trying to incorporate some exercise in their lives.

But good intentions are just that.

Most dieters fall back into bad habits after some initial success. That is evident in the official numbers: the national obesity rate has more than doubled since about 1980. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7 percent) are obese. A BMI (body mass index) of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

Moreover, obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer — some of the leading causes of preventable death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Losing weight and staying fit takes a strong commitment and lifestyle changes that are very challenging to most people,” said Manuel Torres, M.D., a family practice physician with the Baptist Health Medical Group. “It’s important to consult with your doctor to get the full picture of your current state of health. That’s the best starting point.”

Knowing your vital numbers — starting with blood pressure, and cholesterol and blood sugar levels — gets your started. With the help of your physician, and possibly a nutritionist and personal trainer, you can determine how much weight you need to lose and the best course of action.

Losing weight — even just 10 percent of your body weight — has been linked to health benefits, including lower blood pressure and an overall reduction in the risk for heart disease.

Here are 10 tips that can help you lose weight and keep it off.

1. Exercise. Research has shown that people who do physical activities, even a minimal of walking or biking for two to four hours a week, are more likely to achieve their weight-loss goals, and even lose extra pounds. The U.S. government’s “Physical Activity Guidelines” recommend that adults get at least 2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of “vigorous-intensity” aerobic activity, such as jogging — or a combination of both moderate and vigorous activities.

2. Set realistic weight-loss and weight-maintenance goals. Losing one-half a pound to 2 pounds a week is realistic. After you’ve reached your desired goal, keeping it off is even more challenging because it entails lifestyle changes in diet, portion control and exercise.

3. Keep track of what you consume. Studies have shown that people who keep track of what they eat and how much they exercise are more likely to achieve their goals. That includes monitoring calories and food groups. For example, ask yourself: Did you have your two portions of vegetables today?

4. Reorganize your refrigerator and pantry. Keeping weight off and staying healthy likely requires an overhaul of what’s in your kitchen. Get rid of drinks and snacks that sabotage your diets. Anything with an unfriendly nutritional label, with too much fat, carbs or sugar, should be replaced with whole fruits, vegetables and packaged foods that meet your new nutritional standards.

5. Avoid hunger by pacing yourself.  Eat regular meals and snacks that are composed of smaller portions than normal. And make sure those meals and snacks contain fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. The best protein sources can be yogurt, lean white meats, such as chicken and fish, and beans.

6. Reduce liquid calories. Many people don’t realize how many calories are consumed from popular, sugary drinks, such as sweetened iced tea, sodas, sports drinks and alcoholic beverages. One can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar — that’s nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar. Choose sugar-free drinks, low-fat milk or stick to water.

7. Stock up on healthy snacks. You’re going to be hungry between those smaller meals, so be ready with healthy, natural fruit snacks. For example, keep or carry to work grapes, apples, bananas or berries. These foods are easy to eat and contain complex carbohydrates that aid proper metabolism.

8. Find motivation. Whatever motivation it takes to maintain your diet or exercise routine can go a long way to helping you succeed. It can be as simple as having a picture of your at your maximum weight next to your computer. Or inspiration can come from enlisting friends or family to accompany you on brisk walks. Dieters who have support from a partner at home tend to lose more weight than those who don’t.

9. Downsize. This applies both to your portions during every meal and even the size of your plates, bowls and glasses. When it comes to reducing portions, every little bit counts.

10. Measure success. Just as keeping track of calories keeps you on track, seeing positive results keeps you motivated. This entails not only weight, but vital stats such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Regular check-ups with your doctor can help you monitor how much healthier you have truly become.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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