New Year’s resolutions have been likened to babies – they’re fun to make, but difficult to maintain.
For overweight individuals, weight loss is a popular New Year’s resolution. However, unrealistic expectations and the wrong approach frequently result in failure.
“Dieting” is big business. We spend in excess of 40 billion dollars per year trying to lose weight. Americans have been buying diet books, popping pills, drinking their meals and ordering the latest weight loss gadgets for decades. Meanwhile, we continue to get fatter.
Currently, 40 percent of Americans are obese, and two-thirds of Delawareans adults are classified as either overweight or obese.
The term “diet” connotes deprivation, restricted eating and angst. Programs that restrict entire food groups require “special” foods, or encourage unsustainable practices such as drinking your meals, and are destined to fail long-term.
In addition, if the plan does not address the behavioral, psychological and environmental reasons that cause some people to overeat, the lost weight is often regained once the “diet” is stopped.
If you’re one of the many individuals who have tried and failed to lose weight and keep it off, keep reading. It’s easy to give up and say “Why bother?” But given the strong link between obesity and chronic disease, you need to re-focus your efforts.
There is no “magic bullet” for safe and healthful weight management. Successful weight management requires the adoption of healthier habits long-term.
Following are some misconceptions and guidelines that may assist you getting started with your weight management goals in 2018:
1. You don’t have to reach your ideal weight to start reaping health benefits. Research finds that with as little as a 5 percent to 10 percent weight loss, health markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar start to improve. Rather than be overwhelmed by the total amount you need to lose, set your sites on achieving a smaller goal initially, such as 5 to 0 pounds.
2. It’s not an all or nothing proposition when it comes to food. A sensible eating plan should include foods you enjoy, in moderation. And it should revolve around foods that are familiar and that you can access long-term.
3. Small changes in your daily choices can add up to big calorie savings. Strategies such as reducing portion sizes, switching out soda for water and limiting the frequency of fast foods can single-handedly promote steady weight loss.
4. You’ll get more bang from your buck by focusing on changing your food intake. Working out won’t cause significant weight loss itself, although it has multiple benefits. Find something that you enjoy doing that involves movement. Start a walking program with a friend, find a work-out video you can do at home, or simply dance daily around the house.
5. It’s okay to seek assistance. Enlist the help of a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). They can create a tailored and sustainable approach to healthful eating and weight loss that is based on your personal lifestyle, preferences, medical history and health issues. If you are an emotional eater, you might want to consider working with a counselor or therapist. Also, many health insurance plans offer health coaches that can help you set realistic goals and keep you accountable.
Marianne Carter is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified health education specialist. She’s the director of the DE Center for Health Promotion at Delaware State University.
January 5, 2018