Lose Weight Safely
At the start of every new year, many people aspire to lose a few pounds. While working toward that goal is admirable, it is important to be safe while trying to lose weight.
You should be able to maintain the lifestyle changes you make over time, says Dr. Julie Sayre, a third-year Middlesex Health Family Medicine resident. This will help you to keep weight off, and it will ensure that you get the nutrients you need to properly fuel your body.
Great advice, but what should you do to ensure that you are making meaningful changes that will keep you healthy and happy?
- If you are just starting out on a weight loss journey, begin by eliminating something from your diet that you know you can do, such as soda. You should then cut out refined sugar and refined flour, which is in items such as white bread and pasta.
- What should your plate look like? A good rule of thumb is to make sure half of your plate contains vegetables – every meal.
- Don’t snack! If so, choose to eat fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t eat again after dinner, and try not to eat anything two or three hours before bed. If your schedule doesn’t allow for that, eat a light dinner – not a big meal.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day, and drink water or herbal tea rather than juice, soda, alcohol or other high calorie drink.
- Watch what ingredients you put into your coffee or latte. Do you really need that cream?
- If you are an emotional eater, or if you eat when you are bored, Dr. Sayre says to pause and do something else instead. Create a list of things that you like to do. Read, take that hot bath or call a friend!
- Find a friend and start an exercise program. Exercise is good for your health, and people often have more success when they workout in groups.
“Diet is everything when it comes to weight loss,” says Dr. Ann Kelly, a colleague of Dr. Sayre who is also completing her residency. “Exercise is important for overall health and well-being, but diet is key to weight loss.”
Dr. Kelly tells her patients to stay clear of fad diets. Instead, focus on a whole food, plant-based diet. This does not mean that you strictly exclude any type of food. Instead, you limit, as much as possible, refined carbohydrates and animal proteins and fats, including dairy. Put down the ice cream, and opt for spinach, broccoli and other leafy greens, which are great sources of dietary calcium.
It is important to strike a balance, adds Dr. Sayre. You want to be able to continue these eating habits forever without nutritional deficiency, she says.
Apps like MyFitnessPal and Lose It! can be useful in tracking what you consume – and how much. It is important to recognize what you are eating, but Dr. Sayre cautions that you shouldn’t become obsessed with counting calories.
“Losing weight has to come from a place of caring for yourself and loving your body,” she says.
If your goal is to lose weight this new year, be sure to talk to your doctor about your plan. You should also consult your doctor before taking any nutritional supplements and if you notice any negative changes in your health, such as changes to your skin.