Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Most people are surprised to hear that maintaining weight requires most of the same principles that losing weight requires. While walking on the maintenance path, there can be many temptations along the way and once you start down the wrong path, it can be a very slippery slope. Don’t fall into the mind set that just because you are at a healthy weight, you can relax or ‘let loose.’ I recommend the following tips and techniques for maintaining a healthy body weight:
1. Journal your food intake. What?! I know what you may be thinking – why should you inflict that torture on yourself when you have won the race and are at the finish line? The fact is, you are not at the finish line. One has to make an effort to monitor what they eat to maintain a healthy weight. When you get out of the routine of knowing the calories, etc that a food contains, it opens up the doorway for poor choices. Now, does this mean you have to journal everyday? No, but doing it at least once or twice a week can keep you in the loop of evaluating choices. I journal almost daily (and talk about food and calories all day long) and am still surprised at how quickly the calories can add up.
2. Use technology to your advantage. I have a confession to make. I would not be compliant with keeping track of my food choices if I had to keep a paper version. I am not that detail oriented and the stress of having to calculate everything would drive me insane! I use a food journal app on my smartphone. There are many free apps available for each type of smartphone, but I use MyFitnessPal. It has a wide variety of foods in the database, a barcode scanner, and a way to enter recipes. All you have to do is enter the food and the portion size you ate and it will calculate everything for you.
3. Measure your portion sizes periodically. An additional ounce of food can significantly alter the calories, depending on the food. I have found that most people aren’t very good at estimating portion sizes (including myself). I blame this largely on the fact that larger portions have become the standard these days. I prefer “reverse measuring.” I’ll put food on my plate or in my bowl and dump it into a measuring cup to see how my guess measures up. It’s just a little trick I use to give my eyes something to reference when I do ‘eyeball’ my portion sizes.
4. This may sound simple, but exercise!! You don’t know how many times I’ve been asked: “YOU exercise?!?” Of course! First of all, I don’t want my heart to be the size of a pea, second of all, every calorie counts! Granted my current exercise routine only burns about 300-400 calories per week. However, based on the math of weight loss (3500 calories = 1 pound of weight gain), if I kept my calorie intake the same and didn’t exercise, this would cause me to gain about 6 pounds per year. 6 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but I don’t want to be 60 pounds heavier by the time I’m 40! One other tip: don’t put a lot of faith in what the machines calculate you are burning during exercise. In general, if a person does light to moderate exercise for 30 minutes, they will burn between 100-200 calories.
So, I would like to applaud my patients who have met their goal weights. I know it takes a lot of hard work to get there. I also want to encourage those of you who are still on the path to your goal. To quote Dr. Williams: “This is a marathon, not a sprint.” You didn’t gain weight overnight and you certainly won’t lose it all overnight. But, with a good system of “checks and balances,” you’ll get there. And we’ll be with you every step of the way!
Krystal Cameron, RD, LDN