These days, it seems like every magazine headline is screaming “Lose Weight – FAST” or claims to have the secret to weight loss. But if weight loss, was as effortless as it appears in the magazines, would anyone have a weight problem? Truth is weight loss is relatively easy. Keeping the weight off is the tricky part. As a Dietitian, my most successful clients have followed these tips to lose upwards of 50 pounds!
1) Take your time
For most people, especially women, weight loss seems painfully slow. I mean, you’ve had salad for lunch every day this week, so you should have lost at least 2 pounds by now, right? Unfortunately, weight loss is not linear. Some clients lose 2 pounds in the first week, only to lose a 0.5 pound in the second week.
Keep a weekly log and calculate your loses over a months’ time. A slow, steady loss of 1-2 pounds per week is typically the most sustainable way to lose weight.
2) Pay attention to measures other than the scale
Keep an eye on additional biometric measures like waist circumference, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Consider my client, RL. Over 3 months of working together, the scale never budged. He was annoyed until we checked his bloodwork. In 3 months, he dropped 20 points off his blood pressure, 32 points off his cholesterol, and 5 points off his blood sugar! His doctor even cut back his blood pressure medication, all by changing his afternoon snack and adding in a high protein breakfast. Although the scale never moved, his health measures and mood improved drastically.
If possible, schedule your annual physical and blood work before making any lifestyle changes. Schedule a follow up a few months later to evaluate the impact. Pay close attention to how you feel – are you more energetic? These are important indicators that the lifestyle changes you’ve made are working!
3) Stay busy
Too often, we reach for snack foods and sweets out of boredom or stress. Has anyone heard of The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment?” In the early 1960’s, Stanford researchers gave children the choice between one reward (a marshmallow) that they could eat immediately, or they could wait 20 minutes and have 2 marshmallows. Turns out, the children who distracted themselves by playing with their hair, singing or dancing where able to wait the 20 minutes for 2 marshmallows. Down the road, the children who distracted themselves weighed less years later in life.
The morale of this story is not to relay on your willpower – but to fight it by distracting yourself! Find an activity that you can channel your energy into as soon as a craving strikes. Call a friend or family member, run an errand, exercise or meditate. Anything you personally enjoy that keeps your mind off food counts.
You may have noticed that these tips have nothing to do with superfoods or strict meal plans. Most people know that eating less sweets and exercising more is important, but don’t quite understand how to stay motivated. Not to mention that different programs work best for different people. You too can be successful in the program of your choosing by following the tips above. Consider hiring a dietitian or trainer to hold you accountable and suggest specific changes tailored to your lifestyle.
Megan is a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer in the Baltimore area. Her mission is to connect people with nutrition and fitness information that makes sense – information that is reliable, realistic, and fun.