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How can I lose weight successfully?

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Fitness Specialist

Weight loss truly comes down to cutting your calories. Calories are the fuel your body needs to survive every day. However, many individuals “over fill their tanks” so to speak, eating too many calories and not moving enough to burn the excess fuel. The calorie surplus leads to increased body fat and weight. So, to lose weight and to keep it off, you have to eat less and move more.

My first piece of advice for successful weight loss is to determine your motivation. It is critical to understand why you want to lose weight. Are you losing weight to live longer, play with your children more, fit into your clothes better? If you have a strong enough “why,” more often than not, you will have the focus and discipline to maintain a success-driven mindset and continue the purposeful actions required over the long haul.

Second, understand the calorie equation and what it will take to create a calorie deficit for yourself each day. To lose 1 pound of fat each week, you need to burn 500 calories per day more than you eat (there are 3500 calories in one pound of fat). There are 2 ways to create that deficit, eat less and/or move more. This can be tricky. For example, did you know that a bran muffin with nuts and a grande 2% white chocolate mocha from Starbucks can yield up to 890 calories – nearly half of the calories recommended for a typical 150 pound individual to eat in a whole day? To burn off this breakfast, it would take about 220 minutes of walking, or 150 minutes of aerobics. As you can see, calories are easy to consume but hard to burn! The lesson here is to count your calories. If you don’t know how many calories you are consuming, you will not be able to successfully manage your weight loss.

Lastly, make it your mission to move more throughout your day. Increasing your daily activity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking at the farthest parking spot and walking, or even standing during your meetings or phone calls each day makes a significant difference in your calorie deficit.

In addition, exercise! For long term success, there is no substitute for the “sweat investment” in your health. Exercise helps condition your heart, lungs and muscles to work more efficiently and can help stave off disease. You don’t have to run a marathon or turn into a bodybuilder; you simply need to add 30 minutes of purposeful, specific, enjoyable exercise into your daily plan.

Pamela Fortner, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Be accountable for what you eat and what you burn. Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. It really is that simple. Start by keeping a food journal and be honest with yourself. If you are going to eat it, write it down so you can see just how many calories you are consuming, then see what and where you can cut back. Read labels to determine portion sizes, total caloric intake etc. The second component to successful weight loss is your exercise program. Choose an activity you enjoy so you will stay motivated. Cycling, running, walking, zumba, a boot camp class, and add in some form of resistance training. Be deligent and you will be successful.

To successfully lose weight will require a combination of commitment a successful environment, and social support. Having a strong social network of people who will help support you in your journey through moral support, not tempting you with unhealthy food choices, and helping you with your workout  and diet goals is gonna be the key. Creating a positive environment that is conducive to diet and exercise will mean surrounding yourself with active people and healthy food choices and opportunities to exercise.  By supplying yourself with easy to eat healthy food choices and surrounding yourself with active people you will create a successful environment to eat healthy and engage in more regular physical activity. This will help lead to healthy and successful weight loss. 

Losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume on a regular basis. This can done by becoming more physically active, decreasing your daily caloric intake or a combination of the two. Research shows that a combination of resistance training, cardiovascular training and nutrition is the most effective method for weight successful weight loss.

It is important to set yourself realistic goals and time frames when it comes to your weight loss. A good starting point is aiming to lose one to two pounds per week or 10% of your initial weight in six months. One pound of body fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Therefore creating a daily caloric deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories should result in a one to two pound weekly weight loss. Realize that weight loss will take time and commit to making lifestyle changes that you can maintain for life. There is no magic pill, fad diet or temporary exercise program that will give you long term weight loss success.

To maintain weight loss for life you need to commit to a healthier lifestyle for life by becoming more physically active, along with consuming a more nutritious diet on a daily basis. If you are new to exercise start by increasing your activities of daily living every day. For example take your dog for a walk, mow your lawn, do some yard work, play with your children or take the stairs instead of the elevator when shopping or at work. Over time you will notice that you have more energy and will be able to continue these activities for longer periods of time.

Weight loss is a journey and can sometimes be a very frustrating one. Be patient and do not give up. Surround yourself with a good support group who can help encourage you and keep you on track. Remember the most important thing when it comes to successful long term weight loss is that the positive changes you make need to be changes that stay with you for life.

Ms. Kathryne A. LeMieux
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Specialist

Make sure you have a physical and rule-out health concerns about weight gain before you take on a diet and lifestyle change. As someone whose lost a lot of weight several times, I can empathize with your concern! Sometimes there are physical reasons like thyroid or hormonal changes that your MD can diagnose and treat. They will not solve your weight problems but should be ruled out before you start your journey. I know for me, confirming there was nothing wrong with me physically, helped me to face the task head-on.

If I overeat and don't exercise, I will not lose weight. I won't feel good. I might be depressed or have no energy to do things I want. I'll age quicker and lose my youthful glow! Once I was able to take responsibility for my own weight control; I did what I had to do to have the life I wanted. Do I want to sit on the couch, watching TV, feeling sad and bored? I hope you take all the steps you need to.

You can change your life! It's never too late to make a new start and let go of every past attempt. Today truly is your first day of your life—the one you make!

When trying to lose weight the basic adage of "moving more and eating a little bit less" is really what you are after.

When it comes to moving more it is just finding activities that feel good for your body and that you probably find some pleasure in (or at least don’t hate) and do them on a regular basis. Being as active as possible everyday whether it is parking in the spot furthest from the building or taking the stairs versus the elevator, can help you chew up calories throughout the day, but regular consistent exercise is really going to help you accelerate towards your goals. Not everyone has to run, do sit ups, or do pushups, but finding some sort of exercise that you can do on a regular basis can help you lose weight.

Adjusting what you eat is equally as important. You need to fuel your body with things that help you feel healthy and energetic. How much food you eat, when you eat your food and the right combinations of food are considerations as well. Doing this along with drinking plenty of water and getting sleep can be the basic components of losing weight.

Regular exercise, more movement through the day and making positive food choices are your pillars to success!

Dr. Vonda Wright, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

Unless you have a real medical problem such as thyroid dysfunction or diabetes, to lose weight, you just have to take in fewer calories than you expend. Did I hear the crowd say "Duh?" It sounds simple, and it is, yet more than two-thirds of us don't have a handle on how to consume only what we need each day. In fact, I think that weight gain and getting out of shape can be such a gradual process that we don't realize it is happening until 10 or 20 pounds later.

The first step in beating the numbers is being aware of what you are taking in. For instance, if you go out and walk or run three miles, you burn approximately 300 calories. If you then go out and reward yourself with a creamy, frothy, iced coffee drink, you pour 600 calories back in and you need to go out and do another three miles just to break even. Start reading the labels of the foods you eat. Notice what the manufacturer considers a serving size (often much less than we actually eat) and how many calories that amount contains. I think you will surprised by how quickly the calories add up.

When you are out at a typical restaurant (where the serving sizes are like small platters), try to divide everything except the veggies in half and eat only one of those halves. I know this goes against the "clean your plate" and "children in Ethiopia" mantras that we have heard all our lives, but do it anyway. In addition, if you start dinner by drinking a glass of water and then eat slowly, you will feel full and still enjoy the delicious flavors. I promise that anyone living in the United States today is unlikely to starve by eating only half of what is presented to her. (Besides, you can take the part you didn't eat home to have for lunch the next day.)

Healthy, sustainable weight loss is approximately one pound per week. This means burning 500 calories more than you take in each day.

On the other hand, if you want to lose a pound a week but don't want to limit your intake, you can eat what you normally do and run five miles a day (burning 500 calories). I know one pound doesn't seem like a lot, but it is a start. And truthfully, if you ramp up your exercise and watch what you eat at the same time, you are likely to lose more than that.

Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age

More About this Book

Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age

It's one of the undeniable facts of life. After we reach a certain age, our bodies change. No matter how fit we may have been at 20, we're very different people after 40. But growing older doesn't...

The good news is that burning off more calories than you're taking in will cause you to lose weight. The bad news is that there's no magic formula. Studies find that if you lose the weight slowly, you'll be much more effective at keeping it off, especially if you incorporate exercise into your routine and reduce other sedentary behavior, such as watching TV.

The safest way to lose weight is to eat a nutritionally complete diet that is moderate in calories and fat, add exercise to your daily routine and decrease sedentary activities. In some cases, for example, if your health is being immediately and severely compromised because of your weight, faster weight loss may be appropriate. In these cases, your healthcare professional may recommend drug therapy or surgery.

Wendy Batts
Fitness Specialist

Losing weight is a matter of burning more calories than you eat. Body fat is simply stored energy and to reduce it we need to manage the energy put into our bodies (what we eat) against the energy we use (natural metabolism and physical activity). To use what’s been stored we need create an energy (calorie) deficit by moving more and eating less.

A sensible reduced calorie diet is the place to start when it comes to eating fewer calories and simply moving more throughout daily life with the intent of incorporating regular cardiorespiratory and strength exercise is where we want to begin when it comes to increasing the amount of energy we expend. Remember not to make these changes too drastic or you can feel deprived or burn out too soon. Make small realistic changes to lifestyle and watch the pounds begin to drop off!

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

A favorite summertime quick and healthy meal is using the grill. Grill a fish fillet, slice raw vegetables and place in a grilling basket and wrap an ear of corn with fresh rosemary and place on the grill. Another quick and easy meal is a baked potato meal which uses a baked potato filled with reduced fat shredded cheese and steamed frozen vegetables served with a salad and low fat salad dressing or balsamic vinegar. A quick tip for the carb content of a baked potato is to use 5 grams of carbohydrate for each ounce of potato.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.