By: Robert A. Shaffer M.D., Gastroenterology Associates N.A.P.C. Medical Director of Shaffer Weight Loss Center and Denise Biro, Weight Loss Coordinator
Summer is just around the corner and it will soon be swimsuit season. Here are a few tips on how to begin your weight loss journey without adding an additional expense to the pocket book. Reaching and maintaining long term weight loss goals can be as simple as this: clean out unhealthy food items from your pantry, create nutritional menu and grocery list, plan and begin physical activity daily.
Unhealthy food items or pre-packaged foods are found in a cardboard box, preserved in a can, or wrapped in plastic, and contain no real nutritional value. Not only are these convenience foods high in sodium they are empty calories that may cause hunger pangs in thirty minutes. Foods high in nutritional value help reduce the risk of certain disease in addition to aiding in weight loss efforts. Start cleaning the refrigerator and pantry, place all unneeded food in a box, and donate to the shelter of choice.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide of America suggests to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, then add grains, add protein last and include a small amount of dairy (or some other calcium source). Select foods with reduced or zero added fats, sodium, and/or sugars. Buy fresh or frozen fruits and vegetable when possible over canned or boxed. Choose the leanest cut of meat, and whole grains that contain fiber. Create a weekly menu consisting of breakfast, lunch, dinner, two snacks, and a grocery list based on the suggestions above. Being prepared in the kitchen with meal planning will keep the focus on long term health goals.
Adding exercise to a weight loss plan not only burns calories but will also help prevent weight regain. The best way to be accountable for exercise is to plan ahead and allowing time in personal schedule to do it. Set a goal and work up to at least 3 to 5 days a week for 30-45 minutes. Physical activity can include parking further than usual from work, walking up stairs instead of taking elevators, gardening and walking the dog.
Long term weight loss goals can be achieved by careful planning of consuming a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and increasing moderate activity to most days of the week. Be sure to consult with your doctor before starting a new physical activity regimen. Some people will require special dietary strategies for weight loss and should consult with a physician or certified nutritionist offering such services.