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Published on January 22, 2014

Healthy Weight Week

Sara German
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital Clinical Dietitian

January 19-25 is Healthy Weight Week. Are you at a healthy weight? The answer may depend on how you define it. If you eat a balanced diet, are physically active, and feel good about your body, there’s a good chance you are at a healthy weight for you. (You might want to read on to learn what “balanced diet” and “physically active” mean, though.)

Many health professionals use a tool called the Body Mass Index (BMI) to group people into weight categories, including underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese. To calculate your BMI, go to http://nhlbisupport.com/bmi/. The BMI is only a starting point, however. Although it can give you some idea of a healthy weight, factors such as diet, physical fitness, lifestyle, health, and age should be considered along with the number on the scale.

Here are a few things everyone can do to reach (or maintain) a healthy weight.

  1. Balance your plate. The website www.ChooseMyPlate.gov has a ton of great information about healthy eating (and physical activity, too – see #3). A typical lunch or dinner plate should look like this: ½ fruits and vegetables, ¼ starchy vegetables (like potatoes) or grains, and ¼ lean protein, completed with a glass of low-fat milk.
    Sound impossible? Start by substituting chopped veggies for potato chips as your mid-afternoon snack. Eat an apple instead of a candy bar.
  2. Eat breakfast. It really is the most important meal of the day! Eating breakfast helps rev up your body to burn more energy later.
  3. Move more! For adults, the minimum recommendations are 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 times per week.
    Sound intimidating? Start by adding movement in small bits and pieces throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a brief stroll through the halls after lunch. Wear a pedometer and find ways to get to 10,000 steps.
  4. Get enough sleep. Most adults need 7-9 hours per night. A good night’s sleep isn’t just a luxury – it’s something your body needs to function properly.
  5. Keep track of your efforts. Recording what you eat and how much you exercise – whether in a notebook or a smart phone app – has been shown to be a winning strategy for people trying to lose weight, and successful weight “losers” weigh themselves regularly so they aren’t surprised by weight gain.

Finally, savor the moments. Weight loss (even weight maintenance) is hard work and doesn’t happen overnight, but taking the above steps can help you feel better today. Don’t obsess over a number; do appreciate the benefits. (Example: I ate more slowly, enjoyed my food and didn’t eat too much. Now I feel good about myself and don’t feel overstuffed.) Celebrate your accomplishments! It’s the little changes every day that add up to big health benefits.