I need help -- what can I do to actually keep working on my New Year's Resolution to lose weight past February this year?
Such tips are plentiful this time of year, but you know that sustained weight loss is never easy. The first step is to accept that fact: It will help you take your resolution seriously and stick with your plan for the long-term.
The Mayo Clinic's Web site offers some great guidance for successful weight loss (see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/weight-loss/HQ01625). Their tips include:
- Make a commitment. It's going to take a lot of physical and emotional energy to change your daily habits -- the key to reaching any weight-loss goal. Be sure you are at a point in your life that will allow you to focus on your efforts and not be easily distracted by other major life events.
- Make your goals realistic. You might want to lose 50 pounds by the end of 2009, but your chance at success is better if you focus on how you'll get there, day by day, instead of where you want to end up. It helps if your goals are specific and measurable. For example, if you decide you'll count calories as one way to lose weight, keep a notebook, write down your food intake, and add up your calories every day. If you decide to increase your physical activity, set a specific goal -- walk 30 minutes a day at least five days a week, for example, and do your best to achieve that goal as often as possible.
- Understand that you need to change your lifestyle. You already know that "dieting" doesn't work long-term. You have to change both your eating habits and your day-to-day routine. In fact, an article last summer in the Archives of Internal Medicine backs this up: In a study of 200 sedentary overweight or obese women who lost at least 10 percent of their weight, those who exercised an average of 275 minutes a week, or just under an hour five times a week, were most likely to maintain their weight loss over two years. Most people just can't fit in that much physical activity without changing everyday habits.
With all this in mind, you'll also want to be sure to do what you can to lose fat instead of bone or muscle. A 2008 weight-loss study in the Journal of Nutrition found that participants who followed standard dietary guidelines suffered bone loss during the year they lost weight, while a comparable group who followed a higher protein diet (about 30 percent of calories from protein, 40 percent from carbohydrate, and 30 percent from fat) and included three daily servings of dairy were able to maintain their bone mass. In addition, lifting weights and other forms of weight-bearing exercise can help preserve muscle tissue when you restrict calories, which can be an important element in keeping weight off for good.
Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1044, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor: This column was reviewed by Julie Shertzer, registered dietitian and program specialist for Ohio State University Extension in the Department of Human Nutrition, in the College of Education and Human Ecology.