Shed weight and maintain it

Making healthy choices that fit your lifestyle, so you can do the things you want to do, is the first step in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Setting the right goals is an important first step. Most people trying to lose weight focus on just that one goal — weight loss. However, the most productive areas to focus on are the dietary and exercise changes that will lead to that long-term weight change. Successful weight managers are those who select two or three goals at a time that they are willing to take on, that meet the criteria of useful goals which are specific, attainable and forgiving. While you may or may not wish to weigh yourself frequently while losing weight, regular monitoring of your weight will be essential to help you maintain your lower weight. When keeping a record of your weight, a graph may be more informative than a list of your weights. When weighing yourself and keeping a weight graph or table, however, remember that one day’s diet and exercise patterns won’t have a measurable effect on your fat weight the next day.

Today’s weight is not a true measure of how well you followed your program yesterday, because your body’s water weight will change much more from day to day than will your

fat weight, and water changes are often the result of things that have nothing to do with your weight-management efforts.

How do I know I’m at a healthy weight?

Body mass index or BMI is a standard “tool” for helping you judge your body weight and the amount of body fat you have. BMI calculates a weight-to-height ratio and assigns a number to the result. The higher the BMI number above the normal range, the greater the degree of overweight. Generally speaking, a BMI of 27 is considered overweight and 30 or above is severely overweight.

People with a higher percentage of body fat tend to have a higher BMI except for body builders. Carrying excess body fat, not muscle, puts you at greater risk for health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. Consult your doctor or registered dietician about the weight and BMI that are healthy for you.

What is the best way to lose weight?

The secret to successful weight management is not just losing weight but keeping it off permanently. Although there really isn’t one “best way,” but slow, gradual weight loss is healthier, easier to manage and more likely to be permanent. To make healthful eating and physical activity choices:

• Be realistic — make small changes over time in what you eat and the level of activity you do.

• Be adventurous — expand your tastes to enjoy a variety of foods.

• Be flexible — go ahead and balance what you eat and the physical activity you do over several days.

• Be sensible — enjoy all foods; just don’t overdo it.

• Be active — walk the dog; don’t just watch the dog walk.

Can I lose weight by counting fat grams or calories?

You need to monitor both calorie and fat intake to lose weight. A low fat eating pattern is not necessarily low in calories. In order to lose weight, your calorie intake must be less than calories burned. Large servings of even low-fat foods can undermine your weight loss goals.

What should I do if I hit a plateau?

Hitting a plateau during a weight loss program is normal. Your body requires fewer calories to function as your weight decreases. Everyone’s body levels off at a different weight. Some people will level off at a higher weight than others.

Gradually increasing the amount or intensity of your physical activity may help you continue to lose while for others it will help to maintain your new weight. Even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 per cent with maintenance can provide important health benefits. Any activity that gets you moving helps you on the way to a healthy lifestyle. Get energised with a brisk walk in the morning, at lunch and after dinner. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You’ll be more fit without adding more time to your fitness routine.

Are prescription medications an option for me?

If you only need to lose a few pounds, prescription weight loss medications are not for you.

These medications may be one part of a weight management program for obese patients that also include diet counselling, regular physical activity and lifestyle changes.

Prescription medications for weight loss generally reduce appetite, making it easier to control food intake. Talk with your physician to determine if prescription medication should be part of your weight loss program.