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10 Tips for Weight-Loss Success

10 Tips for Weight-Loss Success

Internal Medicine, Primary Care

Hoping to lose some weight next year? Here are 10 tips that can help — a lot. Unlike quick-fix diets, which rarely work for long, these behavior changes can make a lifelong difference in your weight and your health. Rather than obsessing about what to eat (and what not to eat), practicing these tips will help you focus on how to eat to become the leaner person you want to be.

1. Keep it real. Don’t set such an ambitious goal that you quickly become overwhelmed. Start with a modest goal of losing 5 percent of your body weight — something you can realistically accomplish. Once you’ve got one success under your belt, go for another one. And go at your own pace — don’t compare your progress to everyone else. People lose weight at different rates depending on their age, gender, activity level and other factors.

2. Write it down. Several studies have confirmed that people who keep a food log eat less and lose more weight. It’s easy to find websites and phone apps that make tracking what you eat a cinch. Not tech savvy? A notebook and pen work just as well. The main point is to log everything you eat to improve your motivation, hold yourself accountable and identify where your slip-ups tend to happen.

3. Eat more often. One key to successful weight management is to avoid getting overly hungry, when you’ll reach for anything to fill the void. To keep hunger at bay, eat more often. Eating five or six small meals and snacks, spaced evenly throughout the day, can boost your energy and satisfaction much more than the two or three meals most people limit themselves to. If three squares a day is just your style, cut back a little on the size of your meals to allow for two or three small, healthy snacks (e.g., an apple and a dozen almonds) in between.

4. Feed your body. Your cravings may tell you that you want a bag of chips or a cookie, but your body wants fuel and nourishment for your muscles, bones and cells. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein will keep your body full, energized and happy much longer than a 100-calorie snack pack. Feed your body, not your cravings.

5. Pare down your plate. We tend to finish everything that we put on our plates, even if we’re no longer hungry. So start each meal by dishing up a little less. An easy way to make sure you do that: Switch to a smaller plate for your meals.

6. Plan ahead. On your least busy day each week, set aside time to plan for your busiest days. Shop and prep for healthy meals and snacks so they’ll be just as easy to grab as takeout.

7. Don’t drink your calories. On average, Americans get more than 20 percent of their daily calories from sodas, juices, energy drinks, coffee drinks, alcohol and other beverages. These drinks add a lot to our waistlines while contributing little or nothing to our nutrition. Go back to clean, natural, calorie-free water as your main beverage, and watch the pounds float away.

8. Make sleep a higher priority. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the hormones that tell you to eat (ghrelin), and fewer of the hormones that tell you when to stop (leptin). Sleep deprivation also impairs your metabolism. And when you are tired, you’re more likely to make unhealthy food choices. Getting eight hours of sleep per night is a weight-loss priority.

9. Change behaviors that set you up for failure. Limit dining out and takeout. Ban irresistible high-calorie snacks from the house. Don’t eat mindlessly in front of the TV. Keep serving platters away from the table to make it harder to reach for seconds. You know your own traps — stop setting them for yourself.

10. Get support. Stay positive. Keep repeating, “I can. I will.” If you’re struggling, get help, whether from The Portland Clinic’s nutritionists, an online support group or a local group like Overeaters Anonymous. Rally your friends, your family, and even your co-workers to support your goals. You are not alone in this. According to the most recent Gallup poll on American health, more than half of all adults would like to shed a few pounds — at least. This may feel like a personal struggle to you, but half of the country is right there with you. Help each other out and cheer each other on.