8 practical steps to help you lose weight
Trying to lose weight can be a frustrating and lengthy process. There are a handful of common snags people run into when they’ve decided it’s time to lose weight. Fortunately, we have some practical steps you can take to get past the snags and reach your weight loss goals.
- Keep track of what you eat. This is a common challenge for folks working on weight loss. It’s pretty easy to nibble a little in the afternoon or while prepping dinner and not realize how much you’ve eaten. Portion size can be a problem, too. You spoon up servings for dinner, and whatever comes up on the spoon is what you eat. If your spoon is big, that can spell trouble. Research shows that keeping track of what you eat helps reduce how much you eat. Tracking your food also helps trim your calorie intake. Eating too many calories is another common and major pitfall for weight loss. You can track your food in a written log or by using an app on your phone. Pick an app that has a database with foods you commonly eat to make tracking easier. Taking a picture of everything you eat can also help. Include your snacks, too!
- Get enough protein. Protein helps boost metabolism, triggers hormones that help you lose weight and helps make you feel full longer. A breakfast full of protein will help you get through your day. Choose protein from seafood, white-meat poultry, eggs, beans, soy, pork tenderloin or lean beef.
- Cut back on processed foods. We can all get along with less processed meat, fast food, white bread, ice cream and pizza. Our health will also benefit from fewer cookies and cakes, candy bars, french fries, potato chips and sugary drinks and fruit juices. Even if you don’t cut all these foods, you can be mindful about the ones you carefully choose to eat. Portion control in this case is also important.
- Include fitness activities such as cardio and weight lifting in your day. Cardio exercise includes walking, jogging, swimming and bicycling. Cardio and weight lifting can help your body in multiple ways. You’ll burn calories while you’re doing the activity. And the muscles you build will burn calories even when at rest. If you’re concerned about looking like a body builder, no need to worry. That takes a lot of time and effort. You can accomplish your weight loss and fitness goals without bulky muscles. A great place to start is taking a walk right after your biggest meal of the day.
- Cut back on carbohydrates. Carbs you eat are converted to a type of blood sugar. Now this is tricky. Carbs from whole grains, veggies and fruits and beans are helpful. However, you should avoid carbs from processed foods (see tip No. 3). ChooseMyPlate.gov can give you helpful advice about being smart with all your nutrition choices.
- Drink water! In a 12-week study, adults who drank 17 ounces of water 30 minutes before their meals lost 44 percent more weight than adults who didn’t follow the water plan. Drinking enough water can also boost your metabolism by about 30 percent. For alcohol drinkers, alcohol beverages (especially beer and wine) pack a calorie punch. Don’t substitute alcohol for water. And keep track of the calories in your beverages.
- Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you’re not losing weight. It’s normal for your weight to plateau for days or even a week or two. It might even go up. If you start your fitness activities at the same time as your weight loss effort, the muscles you’re building from your exercise could briefly offset your weight loss. Keep at it! Your weight management efforts will pay off.
- Focus on getting good, balanced nutrition. A “diet” is a short-term thing. It won’t help you reach your long-term weight management goals. Long term-weight management goals are met with small changes that amount to lifestyle change. Instead, incorporate these steps into your regular lifestyle to control your weight an enjoy better health.
Ready to get started? The guidance of your health care clinician will be helpful. A lot of us are more motivated to take the steps that help us succeed when someone else is supporting us.
Dr. Kamil Krukowski is a family medicine physician at Aurora Health Center in Racine, WI.
About the Author
Kamil Krukowski, DO is a family medicine physician at Aurora Health Center in Racine.