Maintain a Healthy Weight
We often equate getting to a healthy weight with dieting. How many times have you said, “The diet starts tomorrow!” only to find that you didn’t start the diet or went off it a week or two later?
Turns out, getting to a healthy weight means so much more than just dieting. It’s about eating healthfully, habitually and getting active – it’s about lifestyle change. Sister to Sister can help you make lifestyle changes to achieve permanent weight loss and get heart healthy.
Eating for a healthy weight
Reducing the amount of calories you eat may be simpler than you think, and you can still have great-tasting, satisfying meals that can be easily prepared.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and fewer fatty or sweet foods.
- Eat a variety of foods to keep eating fun and satisfying.
- Find heart healthy recipes to keep your food plan fresh and inviting. Start by looking through our list of heart healthy foods and finding recipes for the foods you know and like.
- Watch your portions and measure your food whenever possible. To lose or maintain a healthy weight, you have to watch what and how much you eat.
- Remember that a very low-calorie diet isn't a healthy long-term strategy. Be careful not to eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day – this isn’t generally recommended for women. If your calorie intake is too low, you run the risk of not getting all the nutrients you need for good health.
- Restaurant meals don’t have to sabotage healthy eating habits. Check out Sister to Sister’s tips for eating out and learn what and how to order.
Getting active for weight loss
Changing what and how you eat can certainly help you lose weight, but adding activity to your lifestyle can speed up the process, improve your mood, and make your body stronger.
- Cutting 500 calories from your daily diet can help you lose about a pound a week, but adding a 30-minute brisk walk four days a week can double your rate of weight loss.
- Engaging in aerobic exercise, such as walking, for more than 30 minutes most days of the week is one of the best ways to lose body fat.
- Incorporating activity into your everyday life, such as taking the stairs rather than the elevator, helps to burn extra calories.
- Check out our tips to get moving and find activities that match your lifestyle.
Strategies for success
Successful weight loss begins with a personalized plan. These five steps can help.
Step 1: Set goals
Effective and lasting weight loss happens slowly over time. You can greatly improve your heart health by losing just five to ten percent of your starting weight – slowly, at a rate of one to two pounds lost per week. That doesn't mean you have to stop there, but it’s a great beginning target.
Any successful plan begins with small, attainable goals that are right for you. The goals should be:
- Specific and measurable
Your overall goal is to lose weight and maintain that new weight. The specific goals to get there are about your lifestyle habits. Changing your eating and physical activity habits will lead to long-term weight loss and new lifelong habits.
Goals will be different for each person. Here are some examples:
If you’re just getting started:
- Walk for 10 minutes, 3 days each week.
- Drink eight glasses of water each day.
- Write down what you eat and calculate the calories using a calorie counter
If you’ve been at it for a while:
- Walk 30 minutes, 3 days each week.
- Add three servings of fruits or vegetables to your daily food plan.
- Choose low-fat versions of dairy foods, cheese, and meat.
If you’re ready to take it to the next level:
- Walk for 30 minutes, 5 days each week.
- Measure your portions and eat 1200 calories each day.
- Add a serving of fish to your weekly diet.
By making small changes and forgiving yourself if you happen to stray from your plan once in a while, you’ll stay motivated and focused.
Step 2: Write down your goals
Writing down your goals – and the reasoning behind them – lends importance to the work you are doing and helps you stay focused.
- Be specific about your goals, plus why and how you plan to achieve them.
- Record a few words each day regarding how you feel about each goal and your progress toward it.
Step 3: Track your numbers
Your weight will fluctuate day to day based on factors like water retention, so don’t expect to see results every day. Still, you’ll want to keep track of how your weight is changing:
- Step on a scale one time per week – no more, no less. By weighing yourself weekly, you can track real changes and avoid getting discouraged by day to day changes in your weight.
- Measure your waist circumference every month. Keep in mind that you may not see results right away, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose.
- Tracking your progress can be very motivating. But if it reveals that what you’re doing doesn’t seem to be working, do contact your doctor.
Step 4: Build slowly
Once you’ve followed your goals for a month or two, add on two or three more goals to pursue. Again, make them measurable, attainable, and forgiving. By building upon small changes, you’ll start to see results – and every small change you make can lower your heart disease risk.
Step 5: Reward yourself
Rewarding yourself along the way can help motivate you to keep going. Buy yourself a small gift or perhaps indulge in an uninterrupted hour to take a hot bath. Whatever treat signals “good job” to you, just be sure it is something other than food!
Most people reward themselves after a certain period of time or after they’ve accomplished a particular goal. Choose the system that is best for you.
- Time: At the end of each successful week and month, reward yourself.
- Goal: Once you’ve accomplished a specific goal, such as losing five pounds or adding three servings of vegetables to your daily food plan, reward yourself. Make sure the goals are small and that they can be accomplished within a few weeks or a month.
Step 6: Get emotional support
Getting to a healthy weight is always easier if you have people supporting your effort. Engage friends or family members to set their own goals and join you, or simply to cheer you on. Also, visit the Sister to Sister online community to talk with other women who are on the same weight-loss journey toward heart health.
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