The month of January is most definitely a dietitian’s busiest month. Most people resolve to lose weight, or just start eating a healthier diet, and therefore everyone seeks out their local dietitian for help (well, hopefully they do, although I’m sure many people also seek their local fad diet marketer or people who call themselves a “nutritionist”…). This is also the time when all the gyms are packed to the brim, full of people who are all of a sudden very motivated to get in shape for the new year. It was no surprise to me when I was sent my list of classes to do during the month of January and the first one was titled, “Everyday Weight Management”. At the same time it is was no surprise this was my most popular class, with 10 people showing up (my average is about 3…pathetic).
1. Set a realistic weight-loss goal. Most experts recommend aiming for half a pound to 2 pounds a week.
It’s also important to make a realistic goal for the weight you want to achieve. For example, it you weighed 120 pounds in high school, but now you weight 220 pounds, don’t make a goal to get back down to that 120 pounds. Clearly that’s just not going to be realistic. You will likely get frustrated and give up. Make a more realistic goal, and then once you achieve it you can decide whether you want to go further.
2. Keep track. Dieters who keep track of everything they eat lose twice as much weight as those who don’t, research shows.
I don’t 100% agree with this tip. I think keeping a food diary works for some, but not others. Try it for a few days and see if it works for you, but don’t assume you’ll really lose 2x the weight if you keep track!
3. Motivate yourself. Get a pair of jeans or pants that are too tight and hang them in the kitchen instead of the closet to keep yourself inspired.
Better yet, keep a running list of all the benefits you will likely see from losing weight. Look into your family history and list all of the chronic diseases that you will be less likely to acquire after losing weight!
4. Get help from family and friends. Dieters who have support from a partner at home lose more weight than those who don’t, studies show.
5. Move it to lose it. Research shows that people who do physical activities such as walking or biking for two to four hours a week during weight-loss efforts lose an extra 3 to 5 pounds over a year.
Do anything you can to move more. Park further away from the store, get up and move periodically at work, stand instead of sit during meetings, it all adds up!
6. Pay attention to portions. A 3-ounce portion of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards; 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine, a standard postage stamp; a cup of cold cereal, berries or popcorn, a baseball; 4-inch pancake or waffle, the diameter of a CD.
7. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator. Get rid of the foods that sabotage your weight loss.
For some this just isn’t feasible. I hear many people tell me, “my spouse buys it and I have no control over whether it’s in the house!”. I always suggest asking their spouse to be respectful and keep those”danger foods” hidden, if that’s what the person wants.
8. Create “a dinner deck.” This would include 10 favorite quick and healthful dinners written on index cards. Each card should list the ingredients for the recipe on one side and directions for making it on the other.
I’m definitely into this idea! For inspiration and ideas, check out my entree section of my recipes page (most of my recipes are simple and quick. I also suggest the slow cooker recipes because they can be prepped in the morning, then ready when you get home from work). But, let me make this even easier for you. Here are my top 5 quick and easy dinners (My “Dinner deck”); 1. Scrambled eggs with spinach and whatever veggie I have in the fridge, 2. Large salad with grilled chicken, 3. Minute rice and veggies (and whatever protein I have in the fridge), 4. Grilled cheese sandwich and a side of steamed veggies (I keep frozen veggies in the freezer at all times), 5. Frozen meal or quick Boboli pizza (what? A dietitian can eat frozen meals too you know. I prefer Healthy CHoice, Lean Cuisine and especially Kashi).
9. Avoid hunger. Eat regular meals and snacks. Make sure you have some protein foods such as yogurt, tuna, beans or chicken for most meals. Some research suggests that protein helps you feel full longer.
I would change this to “Don’t Ignore Hunger”. Allow yourself to get hungry, just don’t ignore it. When you ignore your hunger you set yourself up for binges. Not only that but the longer you go without food, the slower your metabolism will be when you do eat.
10. Keep produce on hand. Place a bowl of vegetables such as broccoli, snap peas, cucumbers or carrot sticks in the refrigerator. You can eat them as a snack or when preparing meals to take the edge off your hunger.
11. Stock up on “impulse fruits.” Keep things like grapes, clementines, small apples, small bananas and pears around the house. These foods are easy to eat without having to do much cutting and slicing.
During the winter months I love to keep clementines around. They travel well and look good in a giant bowl on any table in the house. Nick grabs one every once in a while and just eats it. I love to see that.
12. Make some stealth changes. That will get everyone in the family eating healthier. Buy low-fat 1% or skim milk, low-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat cheese instead of the full-fat versions. Use them in recipes to cut the fat and calories.
QUESTION: What is you favorite fruit or vegetable with which to travel?? For me it’s clementines, cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots. I pack them in my lunches and even put them in my purse when I run errands.