Lifestyle Changes to Help You Lose Weight
It’s easy to fall into the latest fad diet craze. Many products promise so much — but rarely do any of them result in weight loss alone.
If you want to lose weight, it takes a lifestyle change in what you eat and how you eat, and a commitment to regular exercise. That’s the key to losing weight and keeping it off long term.
Focusing on lifestyle changes and forming new healthy habits will help you find success.
The first step probably comes as no surprise: Commit to a regular exercise routine. “Exercise is by far the most effective way to maintain a healthy weight,” said David Basel, MD, Avera Medical Group Vice President of Clinical Quality, who practices at Avera Medical Group Harrisburg. “Exercise helps control hunger and increases your sense of well-being.”
Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity (such as walking quickly or riding a bike) five times a week for a total of 150 minutes per week, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (such as running), or a mix of both. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends incorporating muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.
“That is the No. 1 key. If you can do that, you’re going to be in good shape. It may be almost impossible to maintain a healthy weight without exercise,” Basel said.
Weight loss tips
- Pay attention to portion control. Focus on eating healthy, minimally processed foods. Avoid fast foods, and especially watch your portion control at restaurants, where plate sizes often make it difficult to monitor your calorie intake.
- Eat slowly. Take your time while you’re eating and enjoy your food. “In our stressful, busy lives now, we’re eating so quickly that our body doesn’t have time to tell us when we’re full,” Basel said.
- Move more, more often. Beyond focused exercise, look at ways to improve your activity level throughout the day. Currently, more than one half of an average person’s day is spent in activities involving prolonged sitting. That much sitting can come with harmful health outcomes. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk around at work whenever you can find an opportunity. Instead of grabbing a handful of chocolate, walk and get a glass of water. It all adds up.
- Set a realistic goal weight. Visit with your provider to set a goal weight. Your provider can help you identify a weight that is achievable and that you will be comfortable maintaining.
- Take advantage of health and wellness benefits offered through your health plan. Many health plans sponsor wellness benefits, such as a health coach. As you are setting wellness goals, it’s also a great time to take an overall health risk assessment (HRA). This assessment will provide you with an overview of your potential risk for health concerns such as heart disease and stroke. Find a free online health risk assessment at Avera.org. Click on Health Information and Tools & Multimedia.
- Increase your exercise gradually. When you’re starting a new weight loss program, the tendency is to overdo exercise. Gauge your exercise appropriately, and increase the amount of exercise gradually over a period of two to three weeks. The older you are, the more you may have to modify the intensity of your exercise plan.
- Have reasonable expectations for weight loss. A weight loss of two pounds per week is a realistic goal. Don’t get too discouraged if you’re not seeing results right away.
Sit less and move more during your day by following these tips:
- Spend a third of your lunch hour walking.
- Walk on your breaks and while talking on the phone.
- Have a walk-and-talk meeting instead of a sitting meeting.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park at a spot farther away from the entrance of your building.
- Spend time walking before and after work.
- Replace watching TV with active hobbies.
- Be active during TV commercial breaks.
- Set a goal to limit your sitting time to less than two to three hours per day.
- Consider using a standing desk or treadmill desk at work.