Oftentimes people approach me with the idea that because I am a dietitian, I am a miracle worker – and gosh, I wish I was. Thing is, a dietitian can help create success; however, it takes more than our words of wisdom to make the goals happen. When it comes to weight loss goals, one has to be realistic. The most important things to realize are:
- You are in control of what goes into your mouth
- Physical activity AND diet are the most effective ways for weight loss
- You must be honest with what you eat and how you feel
- A registered dietitian is the most reputable source of information
If you are considering making dietary changes, kudos to you. The contemplation stage is a place in which you need to ask yourself whether or not you are up to making a lifestyle change. Whether that is large or small, be realistic. Many people go into it with a specific number or a ton of new self-imposed rules that are just not ones that match their own personality. You know yourself more than anyone on this planet – you have to set goals that are attainable for YOU.
Here are a few suggestions I have in regards to starting a weight loss program or lifestyle change.
Don’t Count Your Calories
I highly suggest if you are the type to rely on the internet, a magazine, or diet book to find out how many calories you need per day and how many to lose weight, you will not come up with the best calculations. Registered dietitians (RD) are well-versed in figuring out your caloric needs (activity level, age, medications, height, etc.). If you have to count, simply start off with subtracting 500 calories per day from your diet. That will result in a 1-2 pound weight loss per week.
That could also mean walking/running 2.5 miles (~250 calories) and eating 250 calories less per day (500 calories total). It is actually somewhat easy to figure out where those calories can be subtracted by doing the following suggestion….
Write it Down!
Write down every morsel that goes into your mouth and every sip you take. Did you count the mint you picked up at the bank while waiting in line? Did you add the brownie that was in the office (you ate it because while you weren’t hungry, everyone else was doing it so why not?!)? The peanut butter leftover on the knife while making your son’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich (almost 100-200 calories)?
When we write things down (honesty in the diet), we see were the calories are actually coming from. When we don’t write it down, we don’t realize the “just a little piece of…” or “oh, just a nibble of…” can add up! Even eating those fries that were left on your spouses plate, count! No calorie is free. I remember one very good quote “calories don’t just count, they MULTIPLY”.
Also, start to write your physical activity down. Even if it is walking the mall with your friends for 2 hours (trust me, if you shop like I can, you can kill 2 hours of shopping easily). If you know what it is like to run back and forth with a toddler around the house or dancing to the same song over and over again with them, write it down! These are also things that can give you a confidence boost when you see hidden physical activity. Ever spend an afternoon doing cartwheels over and over again with a 4 year old? I have and wow, my arms felt like noodles the next day.
Set Small Goals to Start
In the journal you use to write down the foods you eat, set daily small goals. Here are a few examples:
- “I will eat breakfast today.”
- “I will take the dog and MYSELF out for a walk. Take us out for at least 30 minutes.”
- “I will play outside with my son.”
- “I will drink an additional 2 glasses of water today.”
- “I will eat dessert; however, I will share it with my hubby.”
- “I will eat a piece of fruit when I get home instead of opening the bag of chips.”
- “I will wake up 15 minutes early to prepare lunch to take to work instead of eating at the local eatery.”
- “I will write out my grocery list instead of showing up unprepared.”
- “I will eat a healthy snack before grocery shopping so I am satisfied and not be tempted to buy salty, sugary, or fatty snacks or foods.”
- “I will drag my husband off the couch and along with me on a walk to spend quality time together/exercise.”
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Little bits add up to something big in the end!
Share Your Goals
Find someone you can trust and feel comfortable with to announce your lifestyle change. When we tell someone and then take action (write things down), we become a bit more accountable of our actions. Find someone that is a cheerleader – whether or not you’re succeeding or struggling, that person will push you along. This person might also help you because they may know your strengths and weaknesses and can also help set your initial goals.
These are some suggestions to start. In the next post, I will discuss further about the next stages you can take.