Have you often asked yourself “Why can’t I keep the weight off?”
Weight management is a skill; and, like any skill, you need to practice it over and over again. You may be under the misunderstanding that you should be able to “just do it.” That would be like telling someone who wants to play the piano to “just do it” or saying “What do you mean you won’t let me operate on you? I read the ‘Surgery for Dummies’ book.”
You also may have had obesity behaviors for your entire life. Changing is more difficult than learning a new behavior, because you have to undo the old behaviors. Be tolerant with yourself — skill development takes time and a lot of practice. We often tell our patients that we are looking for progress, not perfection.
When you look at weight management as a skill, it makes sense that you need to make healthy choices. Two proven strategies include:
Eating a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of vegetables and fruits; healthy fats, such as olive oil in moderation; small portions of lean meats, such as fish and poultry; and moderate amounts of whole grains. Eating five or more cups of vegetables and fruits a day not only fills you up, but they are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that help prevent some major diseases and illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Exercise is critical for keeping weight off. Research suggests 60 to 90 minutes a day is needed. Find activities and exercises you enjoy, schedule time in your day and make it a priority. Try getting 15 to 30 minutes in before work, take health breaks at work and do something at night before you sit down. Move while you are at your children’s sporting events. Make excuses to move your body through space.
With regular practice, you will soon change your behaviors, feel better, have more energy, improve your health and manage your weight by creating healthy habits.
Rhonda Jenson is a weight management educator with Weight Management Services in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.