By Chelsi Cardoso
Did you know the majority of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese?
Being overweight or obese increases the likelihood of developing several diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
As a result of increasing health concerns, many adults want to lose weight. But despite the availability of weight loss programs, achieving and maintaining weight loss is difficult for many adults.
Understanding Weight Loss
Our weight is a reflection of energy balance—calories in versus calories out.
Weight loss occurs when we consume fewer calories than we burn or when we achieve a calorie deficit. This equation sounds simple, but the complicated part is that we need to make lifestyle changes—specifically changing eating and activity behaviors—to achieve a calorie deficit.
What behavior changes are known to help people achieve their weight loss goals? People who have successfully lost weight do the following:
- Reduce caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day to assist with a slow steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week. A calorie reduction can be achieved with any type of diet.
- Engage in 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity.
- Limit television viewing to less than 10 hours a week.
- Track the intake of all food and drink.
- Measure body weight on a weekly basis.
So how can you begin to apply these changes to your everyday routine?
Let me share some key strategies with you that are known to be effective for weight loss and provide suggestions for starting a successful weight loss journey.
Step 1: Start tracking your current eating and physical activity. This allows you to see what adjustments you may need to make for weight loss.
Step 2: Start setting achievable weight loss goals. Goals can make a difference when working on changing behaviors. Use the guidelines below to help design your weight loss goals:
|Helpful goals are:||Example|
|Positive||“I will plan dinner menus with no more than 500 calories.” Instead of negative: “I will stop eating so much.”|
|Specific||“I will walk 20 minutes on Tuesday after work.”Instead of vague: “I will get more physical activity.”|
|Something You Control||“I will stop buying ice cream and ask my spouse to only eat ice cream when he eats out.”Instead of what you can’t control: “I will get my spouse to stop eating ice cream.”|
|Time Specific||“I will lose 2 pounds by June 15.”Instead of open-ended: “I will lose 2 pounds.”|
|Small Enough So You Can Reach Them||“I will decrease the number of times I eat out from 4 times a month to 2 times a month.”Instead of: “I will never eat out again.”|
|Broken into Small Steps||“I will buy carrots and celery at the grocery store, cut them into sticks and put them in the refrigerator in small plastic bags for my lunches this week.”Instead of not broken down: “I will eat carrots and celery sticks for lunch.”|
|Related to a Reward||“I will buy a copy of my favorite magazine if I pack my lunch three times this week.”Instead of: “I will pack my lunch three times this week.”|
Step 3: Come up with a plan to help you achieve your goals. Achieving a healthy weight is more than following fad diets and changing what is in the cupboard. It’s about making lifestyle changes and sustaining those changes over time. Do a little research to find a plan that’s right for you, and talk with your health care provider if you have questions or need some guidance.
Use the comment section below to share other tips and strategies that have worked for you. Good luck!
Chelsi Cardoso Contact
Chelsi is a registered dietitian and a research associate III at UT Knoxville, where she manages the Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory (HEAL) under the direction of Dr. Hollie Raynor. HEAL conducts research on factors that impact eating regulation and energy balance and that can be used to improve behavioral obesity prevention and treatment programs for children and adults. Chelsi enjoys powerlifting, cooking, watching sports, hiking and going everywhere with her two dogs, Capone and Angelou.