Slow and Steady Wins: Five Simple Lessons for Losing Weight
In a land rich with cheesesteaks, fried pork roll sandwiches and funnel cake, it can be hard to maintain a healthy weight. Yet we know that when we eat better we also feel better, as well lessening our risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and other illnesses.
But how do you lose weight? We're bombarded with opposing opinions and fad diets, demonized food groups and constantly changing food villains: Salt? Fat? Carbs? Sugar? Gluten?
It's time to simplify. Here are suggestions based on actual facts, reason and the knowledge of bariatric (weight loss) dietician Kate Boardman, MS, RD, LDN, of St. Luke's Weight Management Center, to help you eat healthier and lose weight— gently, over time.
1. No single food group is the enemy: It's about portion size
Carbohydrates have been declared the enemy in recent years, but there is a nutritional world of difference between a bag of chips and a roasted potato. So yes, ultra-processed foods are a contributor to the obesity crisis — but what determines if you will lose weight, whether the food is processed or not, is how much of it you eat. Boardman explains: "You can overeat very healthy, organic food as well— it all comes down to portion size. It's important to monitor the portions of any food group you choose."
2. Simplify: Make vegetables the base of your personal food pyramid
Trying to remember the elaborate rules of the latest "Don't eat that!" diet can be exhausting. Sometimes simplicity works best. Boardman suggests you first ensure lean protein is part of the meal: "Lean protein makes you feel full and more satisfied, and helps you maintain lean body mass." Then ask yourself: Is at least 50 percent of your plate covered in vegetables, ideally a colorful array (potatoes don't count here)? Good job. The extra fiber will keep you feeling full, and you’ll have increased energy.
3. Diet matters more: A trip to the gym won't burn away that Frappucino
Boardman likes a colleague's saying: "You can't out-train poor nutrition!" Many people try to justify that bacon cheeseburger or milkshake by saying, "Well, I worked out today." And while Boardman contends, "Exercise helps people maintain their weight," she adds, “but it is difficult to achieve your weight loss goals with exercise alone.” Ultimately what leads to weight loss is a change in diet; try reducing portion sizes, processed foods, sugary drinks and refined starches. Plus, healthy eating on its own can lessen your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
4. Reducing calories and carbs goes hand in hand
"If you restrict carbs, you restrict your calories," explains Boardman, especially if you crave starchy foods. And while in the end the math is simple— if you burn more calories than you consume, you will shed pounds— if you're a pretzel lover and you've reached your pretzel limit for the day, you might choose a small serving of nuts or a cheese stick instead, which will give a protein boost.. If you stick with whole grains and choose lower calorie foods like vegetables, fruits and lean proteins, results will follow (and you may feel better).
5. Remember: Losing weight is about loving — not punishing — yourself
It's easy to become obsessed with a number on the scale. When we forget that who we are determines our true value, the quest to lose weight can twist into feeling fat and ugly, or believing we've failed because we don't look like an air-brushed, photo-shopped magazine model. We eat more to soothe ourselves, and the cycle repeats.
So it’s time to reframe the conversation. What if we started thanking our bodies for carrying us through the good and bad, for supporting us in striving towards our goals — and returned the favor by loving ourselves enough to eat well, get enough sleep and find exercise that's satisfying and fun? We might discover a joie d' vie we already had inside.
—Tory L. Davis, Content Solutions Writer