NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Was one of your goals for the coming year to lose weight and keep it off? According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s a good chance this goal would benefit you since 61 percent of the U.S. population is overweight or obese. Body weight that is higher than recommended for your body frame increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer and orthopedic problems such as knee, hip and back pain. Health experts agree that if you are overweight, losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can have significant health benefits.
When we realize it’s time to do something about our weight, many begin crazy diets and set unrealistic goals that may work for a while, but unfortunately, most people don’t keep the weight off. This yo-yo cycle is discouraging but there is good news. It is possible to lose weight and keep it off. Successful “losers” have valuable lessons to share.
The National Weight Control Registry tracks the weight loss success of approximately 3,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a year of more. Here are some of their suggestions for long-term success.
Keep a detailed food journal. Recording the food and amount you eat raises the awareness of what you are actually eating. Studies have proven that most people underestimate the number of calories they eat by 500 to 1,000 calories per day. And, the more overweight a person is the higher the miscalculation. A food journal is an excellent “reality check.” Honestly record everything you eat for seven days. Note the amount and the specific food. Remember to include the taste tests from the grocery store, the piece of candy and the bites when preparing or cleaning up dinner. You may be shocked at the amount of mindless eating you do.
Weigh yourself once a week to check your progress. Weighing more often does not give a true indication of weight loss or weight gain. Set a specific time each week to weigh when the conditions are similar. Use other measurements of progress such as body measurements and the fit of your clothing. Changes can occur in your body that the scale may not register.
Eat small meals throughout the day. Small, planned meals every three to four hours stabilize blood sugar levels and head off binge eating.
Eat breakfast every day. Breakfast is the power meal of the day that kick-starts your metabolism. Eat within two hours of waking up. Include complex carbohydrates such as whole grain cereal or bread and protein sources such as milk or yogurt for a balanced start to your day. People who skip breakfast consume approximately 15 percent more calories throughout the day than those who eat a healthful breakfast.
Eat low-calorie, low-fat, complex-carbohydrate food — the most efficient and beneficial body fuel. Examples include whole grain bread, rice, vegetables, legumes (such as kidney beans), oats and barley.
Exercise regularly to fire up your metabolism. Exercise has many benefits: burning additional calories, strengthening muscles, using stored fat for energy, reducing stress, warding off diseases and increasing restful sleep time.
As believers, we can honor God when we properly care for the body he has given us. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” A solid weight loss and weight maintenance plan is not a quick fix or fad diet. Begin a step-by-step approach to achieving your goals and establishing life-long habits.
Branda Polk is a certified personal trainer, wellness coach and Fit 4 coordinator at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn. For more information about wellness and health issues, check out www.fit4.com.