We learned many strategies for counseling and the importance of making weight loss a lifestyle change, while also hearing about new research and developments in the field (can you tell that nutrition excites me?)! In this issue I wanted to share some of the things I learned and offer a few ways to approach weight loss on your own.
Sometimes, when I tell people that I am a Registered Dietitian I get scared of some of the questions they will come up with. I am frequently asked about diets or supplements that appear on the cover of magazines, in infomercials or on the Dr. Oz show. The truth is, I don’t know about every single diet or supplement claim out there, but I do know what works. What works is not complicated or trendy. It doesn’t ask you to take an entire food group out of your life, or replace every meal with a fruit or vegetable. What works has been around forever. Ready? Here it goes…decrease your calorie intake and eat balanced and whole foods. Simple, right?
Some of you are probably thinking back to a time when you tried a diet that actually worked. I’m sure you felt pretty good while doing it and maybe you even lost a significant amount of weight, but how long did it last? Did you start to get cranky because you were constantly hungry? Were you bored? Were there dozens of complicated steps to follow? You probably woke up one day and said, “screw this I’m have a cheeseburger!”
What I’m describing above is called macronutrient restricted diets. They restrict or cut out a whole macronutrient (protein, fat or carbohydrate) from your diet. They work because in the short term because you are also cutting calories, but in the long run are very difficult to maintain. Before you know it you’re eating an entire basket of bread while your date goes to the bathroom at dinner.
All that said, every dietitian will tell you though that restricting fat is part of the equation for successful and sustainable weight loss…so maybe I exaggerated there a little bit. In that instance, you are not completely cutting fat out of your diet, just changing the source and the quantity… in other words, striking the right balance (are you sick of that word yet?)
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s first tip for successful weight loss: Awareness.
Be aware of what you are doing right now. Find out where your weaknesses are and target those areas first. Is it that you pick when you are making dinner? Try chewing gum while you cook. Do you use way too much salad dressing when you are pouring it yourself? Try making your own so you use fresh and lighter ingredients. Do you crave juice or soda? Try flavoring your water with some of the flavor tips from the last post. Start by understanding your own habits and weakness, then commit to making a change.
In my last post we talked about the importance of portion size. Be aware of the portion size you are supposed to be consuming vs. what you are really consuming. A reduction of even 100 calories will make a difference. What I find really helpful during the awareness phase is to use an app called “My Fitness Pal.” This app literally has every food in it and if you are honest with yourself and really track every bite that goes into your mouth, you might be surprised. It adds up quick.
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s second tip for successful weight loss: Simple ingredient swaps.
Nutritional Yeast – This product is power packed with B-Vitamins and has a somewhat nutty, cheesy flavor. It is gluten free, salt free, sugar free, has protein and a little fiber and is low in calories. I put it on my salads, sandwiches even rice dishes to add extra flavor and so many nutritional benefits.
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s third tip for successful weight loss: Use children’s plates!
I recently bought a plate from Target with my favorite Disney Princess’ on it. It is separated into three sections, but the size of the plate as a whole is smaller than the set of “salad plates” that I have. Use smaller plates to decrease the amount food you eat. Use the biggest section for your vegetables and the smallest for your carbohydrate!
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s fourth tip for successful weight loss: Cook.
You already know this, and we did go over some meal ideas before, but in order to control exactly what goes into your food and therefore into your body, you have to learn to love cooking!
If this isn’t totally possible for you, try decreasing the number of times you go out to eat. If you can’t or won’t cook, try finding healthy meal replacements: such as smoothies, frozens or canned food items (watch the sodium here). If you do go out to eat, attempt to make appetizers your entrées, or when the food arrives to the table immediately ask for a take-out container and put away at least half of the portion so you don’t get tempted to over eat. Our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs, so if you take away the temptation from the beginning you will likely eat more sensibly.
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s fifth tip for successful weight loss: Focus on your colors.
Another one previously discussed, but like I said before, the more colors the more nutrients and the healthier the meal (when using fresh, natural ingredients, I am not talking about food coloring here wise guys).
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s sixth tip for successful weight loss: Get your exercise.
Can’t make it to the gym? Have you heard of the internet?? There are hundreds of sites that let you do their simple, at home work out tapes online for free! Not your thing? Take a walk and enjoy the beautiful weather coming up. Take advantage of wherever you live and what it has to offer. Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be 60 minutes of all out sprints to be effective. Taking a 10 minute walk 4 times during the day is better than nothing. Take the stairs instead of the elevator all day long and I bet your legs feel a little different at the end of the day! Try parking really far away at the grocery store that gives you even a couple extra steps, these steps make a difference. Every little bit counts. (And it can all be tracked on “My Fitness Pal”)
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s seventh tip for successful weight loss: Drink Water!
Besides your cup of black coffee, make all your drinks water. Why waste any precious calories on juices and sodas?? Even if it says zero calories on the label there may be sugar or a handful of other unnatural ingredients that you just don’t really need. Stick to water and add flavor dress it up.
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s eighth tip for successful weight loss: Start Slow.
Identify one area where you can make a small change. A change that is something that is meaningful, but also substantial and can be incorporated into your everyday routine. Once you have that conquered, move on to something else. If you take on too many challenges at once, or you try to drastically change your, it will be too hard to maintain and you will likely end up abandoning it. Start slow and make life time changes.
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s ninth tip for successful weight loss: Plan Ahead.
I suggest you create a happy, slim, healthy roadmap. Prepare for the grocery store by planning your three meals for each day of the week and decide when, where and how you will get your daily exercise. Sounds like a lot more work than it is. What I have found to be very helpful in this area is finding things that I love and repeating them. I basically have the same thing for lunch every day, and I still love it. I know how many calories is in it, I know exactly what and how much to put in it, I know what ingredients I need at the start of each week and most importantly, I know that it satisfies me. When you are working during the week and are really busy, we often don’t want to spend time thinking about small things. Well, take the thinking out of this equation and find your favorite healthy meals for breakfast and lunch during the work week and make them the night before. When you get sick of that meal, cycle into your next one and after a little bit of time you will go back to that old one and it will taste new again (I promise).
Happy, Slim, Healthy’s tenth tip for successful weight loss: Be Happy.
When you are happy, your mind and body can be connected. Be good to your body, be good to yourself. Make changes now so you can be happy forever.
I am still waiting to see some of your delicious meal creations on Insta-gram! Don’t forget to use the hastag’s: #happyslimhealthy #headtotoewellness and follow us @Headtotoewellness
- Jenna A. Stock, RDN