Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tips from National Weight Control Registry

At our last meeting, we talked about the National Weight Control Registry - a database of individuals who have lost a significant amount of weight and maintained that weight loss for at least 5 years. Here's a recap of 6 key behaviors that lead to long-term success (along with some commentary):

Eat Breakfast

They say it's the most important meal of the day...and it's true! You need to eat breakfast to get your metabolism going in the morning. You do need to eat healthy, nutritious foods.

Eat: Oatmeal, whole grain cereals (without a lot of sugar), wheat toast with scrambled egg whites. Not: poptarts, sausage egg & cheese croissant, doughnuts/muffins.

Moderate caloric intake

You need to consume fewer calories than you expend (use) in order to lose weight, and you need to have an equal balance of calories in/calories out to maintain your weight. Stop the yo-yo dieting pattern of eating way too much and then starving yourself to try to make up for it and lose the weight you've gained. Choose a healthy diet you can live with long-term, and a moderate caloric intake so weight gain will not creep up on you!

Regular physical activity

As discussed above, you have to balance calories in/out to maintain your weight. Diet is key, but so is expending calories through regular exercise. Those who have been successful in their weight loss and maintenance continue to work out 4-6 times a week for a minimum of 45 minutes.

Self monitor weight

If you have a history of eating or weight disorders, you may be an exception to this point. For most people, weighing yourself once a week (same time, same day, same conditions) is important to help keep your weight in check and stay in touch with your body. Read below for a major part of the reason why...

Correct small weight gains quickly

Successful weight loss maintainers monitor their weight, and correct small gains quickly before they become bigger problems. For example, if I notice I have gained 5 pounds over the past 2 weeks, I need to adjust my eating & exercise habits immediately and get those 5 pounds off. If I delay and continue along that path, I will put on 30 pounds in 3 months - YIKES!

Eat consistently across weekends and holidays

This isn't to say you can't treat yourself, but in moderation and working into your overall calorie budget. Many people eat very differently on weekends/holidays or see these times as occasion to splurge. If you are constantly overeating on the weekend or during holiday seasons, you may feel frustated that you are never able to reach your goals. If you are always having to "make up" for overeating, you will never advance towards your goals but take 2 steps forward and 2 steps back...and stay stuck in the same place!

Consistency is the key to all these points! Break the mentality of being "on a diet", because you need to be consistent every day: eat moderately, exercise, monitor your weight, and eat consistently throughout the week and year. Choose healthy habits you can live with for life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Start with just one step

There is a lot of fitness/nutrition/weight loss advice out there...I know, I have been providing plenty of it myself! :)

Sometimes having *SO* much information can be overwhelming and therefore paralyzing. Where to begin? Set a goal for yourself, just one for this week. Below are some examples.

This week I'm going to...


  • Eat 5-6 small meals each day, eating every 3-4 hours
  • Eat 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water - that's 8 - 8oz glasses
  • Keep a food log - enter or write down EVERYTHING I eat
  • Limit myself to one _______ per day (soda, sweet...if there is something not so healthy you consume a lot of, this can be a good way to start breaking the habit)
  • Not snack after dinner/at my desk (wherever you tend to fall to mindless eating)


  • Sleep 7-8 hours every night
  • Do something relaxing/I enjoy for 15 minutes each day (take a bath, drink a cup of tea, read a magazine)
  • Plan a social event with a friend


  • Be more active throughout the day by... (Examples) taking my dog for a walk every day, taking the stairs, parking farther away, getting up from my desk & walking around
  • Stretch every day
  • Do __ minutes of cardio __days this week

* A good goal for weight loss is to exercise for 45-60 minutes, 5 days a week. If you're new to exercise, start out gradually. Try 20 minutes 3 days a week, and work up from there.

Don't try to do everything all at once, pick just one goal to start. Or if you're really ambitious, pick one goal from each category: Nutrition, Rest/Stress Relief, Exercise. Sometimes we feel anxious to change, but a week goes by very fast. :) Better to do one thing well, and then add another habit next week - building on success!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Food Diary & Calorie Tracking

How do you know how many calories you're eating each day? You can do it the "old fashioned" way - writing down everything you eat and the nutrition information, and adding up by hand.

There are many great resources for tracking your food intake electronically as well.

  • This is a USDA site that has TONS of great information and resources. You can also set up an account for FREE and enter all your food in. It will help you to track your calories and also how balanced your diet is - how you are eating across various food groups.
  • Type "calorie counter" or "food diary"into your search engine and you will find many websites that allow you to log your food and obtain all the information you need. A few examples
  • Apps for your phone: two of my favorites are "My Fitness Pal" and "Lose It!". If you have a phone with this capability, you can keep your food log with you everywhere you go.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Weight Loss Math

Do you know the equation for weight loss? You may have heard that weight loss is simple math, and that is generally true for the majority of people. In order to lose weight, you need to expend ("burn") more calories than you consume.

There are 3500 calories in a pound.

To lose 1 pound a week, you need to create a 500 calorie per day deficit (500 kcal/day x 7 days = 3,500 kcal/week).

To lose 2 pounds a week, you need to create a 1,000 calorie per day deficit (1,000 kcal/day x 7 days = 7,000 kcal/week).

This deficit can be created by:
  1. Eating less
  2. Moving more (exercise)

Do you know how many calories you are eating & expending each day? More about that later this week...

Friday, February 5, 2010

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Goals are dreams with deadlines. ~Dianna Scharf Hunt

We talked about setting SMART goals at our first meeting. An example of a goal that is NOT "SMART" would be: "My New Year's resolution is to lose weight and get in shape." That is not a bad goal, but it's not specfic and clear enough to take us to our desired end result.

In the Old Testament, there are numerous examples of God giving direct and specific instructions (think of Adam & Eve, Noah, Moses, Joshua....etc). In Genesis chapters 6 & 7, God gives Noah a precise plan for building the ark and gathering the animals. Nehemiah had a well thought out plan for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and obtaining the resources to execute his plan.

We need to have a clear vision of our goal and result, and a purposeful plan of how to get there.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals:

Specfic: What exactly do you want to accomplish? Be clear, concise, and straight forward.
Measurable: How will you know when you have met your goal? The measure can be quantitative or qualitative, but you must decide ahead of time how you will measure progress.
Attainable: Is my goal should be attainable (realistic) but challenging?
Relevant: Does my goal relate to my dreams, interests and lifestyle?
Time-bound: When do I hope to accomplish my goal? No deadline inevitably leads to procrastination...

Read more about setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals here:

Another element of goal setting is breaking down bigger goals (I want to lose 100 pounds, I want to run a marathon) into short-term goals and manageable chunks...more about that coming soon!