This New Year resolve to make small, lasting changes for weight loss
By: Daniel Palmquist, M.D.
We’re turning the calendar over to 2010, and for many that means making New Year’s resolutions. You might be tempted to set lofty goals for yourself: completing a triathlon or losing 100 pounds by June. While optimism is a good thing, sometimes setting goals that are too big can actually keep us from taking small steps in the right direction.
This year, set yourself up for resolution success. Instead of resolving to completely change your lifestyle in one day, start out with one or two small changes and work up gradually to bigger steps.Losing weight
Weight loss is the number one resolution for many of us. But if you’ve got more than a few pounds to lose, the task can seem daunting. Lose the weight by breaking it down into attainable increments – five or 10 pounds at a time. By making small changes to your diet and exercise routines, you’ll see how doable it is to lose the weight.
And, according to the National Institute of Health – small losses can equal big gains. Dropping 10 pounds can lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It decreases your risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
Once you are comfortable replacing one snack a day, go for two. Then, move on to make your breakfast healthier. Replace buttered white toast with a single slice of whole wheat topped with a teaspoon of your favorite jam or jelly. Low fat yogurt and skim milk are great ways to add calcium and protein to your first meal of the day. A spoonful of flaxseed added to that yogurt adds important Omega-3’s to your diet. A piece of fresh fruit puts you one step closer to your USDA recommendations for the day.
Tempted to skip breakfast? Don’t. According to the American Heart Association, breakfast eaters are less likely to be obese than non-breakfast eaters.
After you’ve made breakfast a healthful habit, tackle lunch. Start by adding one piece of fresh produce to you lunch each day. Replace soda with water or skim milk. And so on. When you’re healthy lunch changes have become habit, move on to dinner.
We’ve all heard the recommendation about drinking eight glasses of water a day. If that sounds like a big step, start small. Add one extra glass of water to your diet each day. Start first thing in the morning; drink one glass of water before you brush your teeth. Here’s one small step that will be done before you know it. Within two weeks, you’ll have a habit that feels like you’ve been doing it for years. You may even find yourself waking up thirsty in the morning!
Second step – replace one sugary soda a day with a glass of water. If you normally drink a can of pop with lunch, swap it out for water. You’ll save nearly 150 calories. Over a year’s time, that adds up to almost 15 pounds. Do the same at dinner and your water intake is further increased and you've eliminated more empty calories from your diet.
Exercising for an hour a day, seven days a week is a great goal. But, for many, it may seem unattainable.
With exercise, anything is better than nothing. A 15-minute walk around the block beats sitting on the couch watching the latest reality show. And, walking burns calories. One 15-minute walk burns about 100 calories. Double that for 200; gradually build up to five times a week and you are at 1,000 calories. That’s nearly 15 pounds over a year’s time. Small steps (literally) do add up.
Exercising alone is great, but research shows that people are more likely to maintain an exercise plan when they team up with a buddy. Tip the scales toward success by finding a friend, co-worker or spouse to take that walk with you.
It’s a new year, a time when we feel motivated to make positive changes in our lives. If your goals for 2010 involve weight loss, consider taking small steps toward larger gains. If you plan to begin a rigorous exercise routine or substantially alter your diet, please consult with your physician regarding the best and healthiest ways to do this. Here’s to 2010, a year when small steps really can get you to the finish line.
|Dr. Palmquist is a board certified family practice physician at Raiter Clinic.|