Five Tips to Get Results from Your Weight Loss Resolution

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make is to exercise and lose weight. In a 2018 survey Donald Cundiff, MDby National Public Radio and The Marist Poll, a staggering 13 percent of Americans that made a New Year’s resolution, set out with the intention of exercising. However, in a report by Foursquare and Citylab, the second Saturday of February has been identified as “Fall Off the Wagon Day” among gym-goers each year. The report compares the decrease in weekly gym visits and the increase in fast food activity. Donald Cundiff, MD, board-certified obesity physician, offers five tips to get results from your New Year’s weight loss resolution.

1. Control Your Food Environment

When work requires you to get up early or punch in late, it’s really easy to swing by the local bakery or coffee shop on your way in. Especially when, in most cities, fast food chains can be found on every corner. Best way to kick the coffee and doughnut habit? Switch up your route to work!

“We know that it takes more calories to get full on processed foods, and they are much more likely to be over-rewarding and addicting,” said Dr. Cundiff. “If you can reduce your cues and exposure to these calorie-dense foods that are easy to grab and eat in your home and work environment, you will be much less likely to crave them. Get rid of tempting things such as chips, cookies, and ice cream— do not give yourself the option to eat these foods.”

2. Control Your AppetiteFruits and Vegetables

The brain has a weight regulatory center. If you eat foods that are higher in lean protein and contain lots of fiber like vegetables and whole fruits, you will be able to get full on less food.

“That is the goal of long-term weight loss, to stay full, happy and comfortable despite eating less total calories,” said Dr. Cundiff. “Foods that are high in calorie density, like highly processed foods in the middle of a grocery store and fast foods, take more calories to get full and do not keep you full. I believe if you eat healthy unprocessed foods, over time your brain will learn to enjoy them.”

3. Get Quality Sleep

Good sleep is food for your brain, but did you know that lack of sleep can affect your weight? When you’re short on sleep, it’s very easy to skip a trip to the gym, or even your daily walk with a four-legged friend. In a study by the University of Chicago, it was found that sleep-deprived participants chose snacks with twice as much fat as those who slept at least 8 hours.

“Adequate restorative sleep is required to help your brain be happy on fewer calories and happier with less comfort foods,” said Dr. Cundiff. “Studies show that getting 7 or 8 hours of quality sleep at night is essential to good health and a smaller waistline."

4. Decrease Your Stress

In 2017, 27 percent of Americans reported they had extreme stress. While high levels of stress can affect our mental health, it can also get in the way of trying to shed those extra pounds.

“Whatever healthy activities we can do to decrease our worry and stress should help decrease our belly fat and cravings for comfort foods, which can be driven by the excess cortisol that worry and anxiety produces,” said Dr. Cundiff.

If you are feeling the stress cloud after a long day, grab a friend and go for a long walk! According to a study by USC Marshall School of Business, the specific interaction with a person who genuinely understands your emotions and response can provide measurable relief from stress. Not to mention, the additional benefit from the release of feel-good endorphins from the walk! Some other great stress-relieving activities include yoga, Pilates, Zumba, or spin classes.

5. Be Active

You’ve heard the saying— “move it, move it, move it!” Now it’s time to take those words to heart and add physical activity and exercise to your daily routine.

“Despite what weight loss gurus say, regular physical activity and exercise can help with both weight loss and weight maintenance,” said Dr. Cundiff. “Exercise helps us both mentally and physically. You can just grab your Fitbit or cell phone pedometer and try to gradually increase your steps, or slowly start more formal exercises. Exercise, especially strength training, does not often move the scale quickly for most individuals, but it does decrease fat and builds more metabolically-active muscle.”

While it varies from person to person, the current Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. Specifically for weight loss purposes, many experts recommend up to 60 minutes per day.

Weight Management and Nutrition Program

The Weight Management and Nutrition Clinic at Firelands Regional Medical Center was established to assist providers in providing safe and effective management of patients needing treatment and support in achieving a healthy weight and the lifestyle needed to maintain that weight. The Weight Clinic at our Center for Weight Management is staffed by a board-certified obesity physician, a nurse practitioner, a board certified ambulatory care pharmacist, a registered dietitian and nurses, physical therapists and behavior management specialists. For more information or to self-refer, visit the Weight Management and Nutrition Program website, or call 419-557-6556.