Molly’s 10 Weight Loss Tips
1. Track what you’re eating right now. For one week write down everything you eat and how much you eat. Here are questions that I ask during a food recall: what did you have for breakfast? What kind of cereal? How many cups? What kind of milk? How much milk? Did you add any toppings to your cereal? What did you have to drink with that? What kind? How much? he more specific that you are, the more helpful this tool will be! Being able to see everything you eat over the course of the day/week will clue you in on what your strengths and weaknesses are.
2. Set an objective and set specific goals to meet that objective. An objective would be what you set your sights on. For example, a total weight loss of 25 pounds or to fit into a size 4 pants. Goals are what you are going to do to achieve your objective. For example, switching from 2% milk to skim milk or increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to at least 6 servings per day. Goals also help you stay motivated. It feels good to make short term goals that lead to your long term goal.
Along the same lines, have a purpose. Ask yourself why you want to lose weight. Do you want to have more energy? Do you want to not be short of breath during daily activities? Do you want to improve your overall health? The more specific you make your purpose to lose weight, the more driven you’ll be.
3. Eat at least 3 meals a day (if not snacks as well). Don’t go any longer than 4 to 5 hours without eating. Often, when you go too long without eating, you’re starving by the next time you eat which makes controlling your portions and food choices very difficult. Also, if you consume too many calories at any given time, your body will store away excess calories away as fat. So if it is recommended that you eat 1500 calories per day and you eat 1100 calories at one meal while you limit your 2 other meals to 200 calories each, you will be storing that extra energy from the large meal. Also, your body has a feast and famine mode. Your metabolism will slow down if you deprive your body too much or go long periods without eating. Patients often ask why our bodies do this. The answer is for our ancient survival…before there was a Jewel or Trader Joe’s located every 4 blocks.
4. Cut back on your portions. I have yet to meet someone wanting to lose weight that eats appropriate portions. Whatever your portion is right now, only take ¾ of it the next time. For example, if you eat 1.5 cups of rice, next time only take 1 to 1.25 cups of rice. Meat is typically the area that needs the most scaling back.
5. Do NOT drink your calories! The only acceptable calories to drink are milk calories. Avoid juice and regular soda. I personally believe in avoiding diet soda or other drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners as well, this explanation is for another time. Studies have shown that a group of people given an allotted amount of sugary cereal ate less later on in the day than a group of people who consumed the same amount of calories from juice. If you get bored with water, add lemon or lime slices to you glass. Also, alcohol calories add up fast! These calories add up almost as quickly as fat calories. And think about what type of food choices you make after a night of drinking. Keep it to 1 drink when you go out but don’t make it a daily habit. You’ll save money and Tylenol anyways.
6. Fiber! Make sure to have at least 2 sources of fiber in each meal. Fiber helps to fill us up and to keep us feeling full. Foods higher in fiber are generally lower in calories than other foods. Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. I recommend that if the peel is edible, eat it! Examples include potatoes, apples, peaches, etc. Don’t eat the banana peel. Each meal should include either a fruit and/or vegetable. Choose whole grains such as brown or wild rice, whole grain bread (make sure not to be tricked by “wheat bread”), whole grain tortillas, whole grain pasta, high fiber cereal, oats, etc. Remember, just because it’s whole grain, doesn’t mean it’s calorie free.
7. Choose foods that resemble their natural form. All foreigners and ancestors should be able to identify what you’re eating. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, nuts, oils, unprocessed meats fit nicely into this category. Thomas Jefferson would be perplexed by Cheetos, Funyons, Pop-Tarts, Cap’n Crunch, strawberry milk, Cheez Its, and Twinkies.
8. Get moving! I don’t care what you do as long as you get your heart rate UP. If you’re not moving now, make your goal to be 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Split this up into 3 intervals if you need to make it fit into your schedule. After achieving this goal, aim for 60 to 90 minutes, 5 days a week. Make sure to take off days. Make sure to stretch 5-10 minutes before and after exercise. Also, add in resistance training such as yoga, Pilates, free weights, etc. In addition to that, start taking the stairs and parking farther away from the store. This adds up over the course of a year.
9. Avoid the slippery slopes. Surely you can have days when you can eat anything you want, right? That’s dangerous territory that I advise you to avoid. Continue to watch your portions and make some appropriate choices on holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations. Patients often say that they “cheat” by eating a particular food. I always ask who they are cheating on. No one is being fooled and no one is getting away with anything. Your body takes zero excuses and doesn’t fall for tricks. Also, don’t have a “last meal.” This will only make more work for you in the future.
10. Tomorrow is a new day. You ate a donut that someone brought into work? Ok, erase that from your memory and move on. Don’t fixate on your personal “mistakes.”
*Note most of these recommendations come from evidence-based practice. Only a few explanations or recommendations come from developing research or what I’ve noticed as a trend during my education and current career.