by Traci Kaufman, R.D.
Three months ago you made resolutions to lose "x" number of pounds. Unfortunately when you look at the scale or your waistline you notice no change. Sound familiar, it should. You like millions of others are reneging on your resolution.
Don't Give Up
I am here to tell you that it is not too late to shed those pounds. It starts with following a reasonable weight management program and making some behavioral and lifestyle changes. What I am going to propose to you is a few simple behavioral modifications I used while consulting with the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League. There are 3 major components to being successful in losing weight. They are "REDUCE YOUR INTAKE OF FAT", "CHANGE YOUR WAY OF THINKING" and "BE ACTIVE". That's right by only making a few alterations in your diet to reduce your fat intake and changing the way you think about your eating habits while increasing your activity level most of you will be able to maintain or lose weight.
Don't count calories.
Try not to count calories. The key is watching your fat intake. Fat makes you fat. It can't be that simple you say, well I say it is. With all the low fat alternative foods available today a low fat diet is easier then you think. Learn what foods are high in fat and substitute them with low fat foods and then make specific changes. Perhaps you will drink a glass of non-fat or 1-% milk instead of a milkshake with your fast food lunch or eating skinless chicken rather than with the skin.
I recall a consultation with a football player who craved pizza and was unable to follow previous diet programs. Rather then depriving him of his favorite food, I proposed that he substitute Canadian bacon (a lean meat) for the sausage and pepperoni he usually orders. Well, he did this and other simple substitutions and he noticed he began to lose weight!
Physical activity is very critical for losing and keeping the weight off. Physical activity should be a minimum of 2000 calories/week (i.e. walking 15-20 miles per week)
Do not deprive yourself.
The reason we tend to give up on diets is that they are too strict or too hard to follow. Try not to forbid any specific foods. The concept of dieting carries a lot of negative feelings of guilt such as "can't haves", "I can never have that". Whenever you tell yourself you can never have something you'll become obsessed with having it. If you eliminate all of your favorite foods you may end up eating out of control when come face to face with those foods. Instead enjoy your favorite food once a week or month and prevent the guilt that will later lead you to that the dreaded binge.
Avoid classifying foods as good or bad to prevent negative thoughts.
Labeling foods as good or bad can lead to such thoughts as "I'm good when I eat some foods, but I'm bad when I eat others." You may use this reasoning to act out behavior or to demonstrate how you feel about yourself. You might think, "When I want to be bad I'll eat chips and soda pop, when I want to be good I'll eat fruit and vegetables." Or "I feel bad, so it doesn't matter if I eat a lot of cookies because I'm really bad."
Make gradual changes instead of drastic changes.
It will be easier to adjust to change if done gradually. Instead of modifying all eating habits at once, concentrate on one habit at a time. Focus on changing one habit at every meal or at least once a day. For instance, if you usually have 2 pats margarine on your toast for breakfast, have one pat margarine or skip the margarine and have jam. That's it for breakfast! At lunch time, instead of having French fries with your meal have a baked potato. Just concentrate on one change at a time, it won't seem so hard that way and you won't feel so deprived.
Set short-term and realistic goals.
It is not as overwhelming to want to lose a 1/2 pound this week rather than 50 pounds by the end of this year! By setting realistic goals, it results in more confidence, higher self-esteem, and a better outcome.
Achieve a "healthier weight" for significant health benefits.
Make health, not appearance, your weight and health management goal. Experience has shown that ideal weight is difficult to achieve. Weight loss to the ideal body weight may not always be necessary for health benefits. The primary goal of weight management should be to reduce weight to a level where health risks and risk for disease are significantly reduced. Studies show that a modest loss of 5-10% of body weight reduces medical risks of obesity (it is also important to know that modest weight gains are also associated with increased risk of disease).
Allow for occasional slip-ups.
Nobody is perfect. Having a lapse is not failing. Falling off your diet once or twice does not mean the effort is hopeless. If you are too strict with your self it may eventually lead to failure. Remember it is the combination of all foods eaten over the course of about a week that counts.
This month's recipes are quick, easy to prepare and low in fat.
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Traci Kaufman, Registered Dietitian, received her bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked as a clinical nutritionist at UCI Medical Center-Irvine in Orange California, and served as team nutritionist for the Los Angeles Rams. Traci is an active member of the American Dietetic Association and two Dietetic Practice Groups: Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutritionist (SCAN), and Dietitians in General Clinical Practice. Traci resides in Southern California.
This page created 1999
This page modified October 2006
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