Our Nutritionist Elizabeth Somer

Most people would give their eye teeth to win the "gene" ticket that lets them cruise through life eating at will, never gaining a pound. However, with landing the right set of genes being about as likely as winning the lottery, most of us face the daunting reality of how to successfully take the weight off, and for good! Before you shoot yourself in the foot with another get-thin-quick diet (they also tout the biggest failure rates), you might be surprised to find that something as simple as adding a few more daily servings of colorful produce is all it takes to fit into the next size down!

Skip the fads and stick with the basic time-proven habits for permanent weight management, such as: 1) maximize nutrients; 2) set realistic goals, and; 3) take daily exercise seriously.

Habit #1: While you cut calories, you don't want to sacrifice health by cutting vitamins and minerals. That means making every bite count. Any good diet emphasizes colorful fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, with moderate amounts of calcium-rich (nonfat milk) and iron-rich foods, such as extra-lean meat, chicken breast, seafood, and legumes.

Colorful fruits and vegetables are a weight manager’s best friends. They are rich in fiber and water, which help fill you up without filling you out. They are fat and cholesterol-free, and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. For example, watermelon is 92% water and has less than 50 calories per cup. It’s a good source of vitamins, such as vitamins A and C, and minerals, such as potassium. Watermelon also is a chin-dribbling delightful snack to satisfy a sweet tooth, while you pack in the nutrients without many calories! For example, choose 1 cup of watermelon instead of:

  • 1 cup potato chips and save more than 100 calories
  • 1 can cola and save almost 100 calories
  • 3 small sugar cookies and save 170 calories (1)
  • 1 4" doughnut and save 214 calories (2)

Habit #2: Before you bolt from the diet shoot, take time to review what really needs changing and where you should start. Fixating on a desirable figure is not a matter of just losing weight. You want to lose the right kind of weight - namely fat weight - and you want to lose it for good without sacrificing your health to do it. You need a specific plan, and that means setting goals.

Goals are your roadmap to weight management. Without them you won't know where you are going or even if you got there. For a goal to be useful, it must be specific, realistic, and flexible. Rather than decide, “I will eat less,” your goal might be, “To lose 2 pounds this week, I will switch from potato chips to watermelon chunks for my mid-morning snack, and I will walk for 30 minutes five days this week.”

Habit #3: Diet and exercise is not an either/or issue. You must do both, especially if you want to maintain the weight loss. Strap on a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day! (3-12)

Keep in mind that your ultimate goal is not just a certain figure or a number on the scale, it is a lifelong commitment to be the best and healthiest you. This plan requires a lifetime commitment, not to just lose weight and keep it off, but to modify habits so they support health and, ultimately, maintain the best weight for you.

1. https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/usda/sugar-cookies-(includes-vanilla)
2. http://www.calorieking.com/foods/calories-in-donuts-glazed_f-ZmlkPTU2MzQx.html
3. Wing R, Phelan S: Long-term weight loss maintenance. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005;82:222S-225S.
4.Jeffery R, Epstein L, Wilson G, et al: Long-term maintenance of weight loss: Current status. Health Psyc 2000;19:5-16.
5. McGuire M, Wing R, Klem M, et al: Long-term maintenance of weight loss: Do people who lose weight through various weight loss methods use different behaviors to maintain their weight? Int J Obes 1998;22:572-577.
6. McGuire M, Wing R, Klem M, et al: Behavioral strategies of individuals who have maintained long-term weight losses. Obes Res 1999;7:334-341.
7. McGuire M, Wing R, Hill J, et al: What predicts weight regain in a group of successful weight losers. J Cons Clin 1999;67:177-185.
8. Klem M, Wing R, McGuire M, et al: A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. Am J Clin N 1997;66:239-246.
9. Foreyt J, Goodrick G: Attributes of successful approaches to weight loss and control. Appl Prev P 1994;3:209-215.
10. Yang J, Farioli A, Korre M, et al: Modified Mediterranean diet score and cardiovascular risk in a north American working population. PloS One 2014;February 4th.
11. Thomas J, Bond D, Phelan S, et al: Weight-loss maintenance for 10 years in the National Weight Control Registry. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2014;46:17-23.
12. Ladabaum U, Mannalithara A, Myer P, et al: Obesity, abdominal obesity, physical activity, and caloric intake in U.S. adults: 1988-2010. American Journal of Medicine 2014;March 10th.
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