For many, a list of New Year’s resolutions tends to include losing weight. Before considering diets, gyms, expensive equipment and tech gadgets, a local dietitian offers some sensible ideas to help with weight reduction.
Sharon Cox with Parkland Hospital System recommends a slow and steady approach: Aim for losing one to two pounds a week through a combination of exercise and sensible changes in diet.
"Everyone commits to a different reason for it," she says. "If you lose the weight and your dress size changes, that’s all good. But the bottom line is we need to work on improving our health."
- How much weight: One or two pounds a week because your body has to adjust to it. So, if you’re losing more than the one to two pounds a week, then you need to look and see if there are other health-related issues going on. And if you lose it too fast, then you won’t be able to sustain it and keep it off.
- Better food choices: Make healthy swaps and have more vegetables on your plate. Those foods are lower in calories and higher in vitamins and fiber, which helps you feel full. Whole grain foods help, too. If you can start your morning with some steel-cut oatmeal or just old-fashioned oatmeal with some fruit, that helps your body kick in to gear and burn more calories. And fruit is wonderful.
- Smaller portions: You would lose a small amount of weight by cutting back on your calories —watching your portions, how you prepare your food, what food you do choose to eat. But exercise really is necessary to lose weight and maintain.
- Burn enough calories: If your body needs to run on about 1,500 calories a day, you want to provide at least that number of calories. Your deficit or your loss would come if you exercise and you burn off 250 or 300 calories, and then you would have a small weight loss.
- A good night's rest: You know how we feel when we don’t get that sleep at night. You need seven to eight hours sleep at night, and when we don’t get it, the next day we are a little sluggish and you look for some kind of food that can give you a little boost, a little energy. It could be sodas; some people turn to energy drinks or something with sugar in it to get them through. When we’re not fully rested, we don’t make the best choices.
- Water: It helps break down and transport the food we eat. Water also helps us feel full, helps with digestion. We’d love to see everyone drink maybe eight glasses a day of eight ounces (each), but that may not be realistic for everyone. So if you’re drinking two glasses now and you increased by one or two more, that helps – on top of the water you naturally get from the food you eat.