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Weight Loss Wisdom

Weight Loss Wisdom

Managing a healthy body weight is a challenge for many Canadians.

ACTIVITY BYTES

Each stage of life has a level of activity that’s appropriate – find yours here.

In fact, according to Statistics Canada approximately 60% of Canadians are either overweight or obese1. And with more people struggling with excess weight, incidences of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, certain types of cancer, joint issues, sleep disturbances and depression are all on the rise.

Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.

If you are considering losing some excess weight, here are a few things you should consider.

What Can I Do to Lose Weight?

While there are some factors such as genetics and family history that influence weight and cannot be changed, there are many things we can change to help us manage a healthy weight. And while many diets promote radical changes and “extreme makeovers” the most successful way to lose weight – and keep it off – is by taking an approach that is easy to accommodate, manage and sustain … for life. In other words, small lifestyle changes that influence your ability to manage your healthy weight. For example:

Eat Just a Little Bit Better. Start small, and tackle them one at a time so that you can make changes for good. If you currently skip breakfast then set a goal to eat breakfast three times next week. If you eat big portions at supper, aim to use a smaller plate with no second helpings. If you don’t eat enough fruit make it your goal to have one extra piece daily. These efforts will have big returns over time. Don’t know where to start? Keep yourself a journal (be honest!) for one week and pick 2-3 things you want to work on. Alternatively, visit the Dietitians of Canada website at www.dietitians.ca to find a dietitian in your area that can help you set goals that are just right for you.

Eat more slowly.  According to WebMD, eating slowly may help weight control. Studies show that eating too fast blocks hormones that signal the brain to stop eating. This inhibits recognition of feelings of fullness and satisfaction which results in overeating.   And according to Paul McKenna, a world leading self-help author and guru, when eating you should “...put the knife and fork down while you are chewing your food and really enjoy it - savour the taste, and enjoy the wonderful textures and sensations as you thoroughly chew each mouthful of food at least 20 times! If all you did for the next two weeks was to slow your eating speed down to about a quarter of what it used to be and chew each mouthful thoroughly, you will find it easy to leave food on your plate.”  (For more information on Paul McKenna, click here.)

Sneak in More Fitness. It is estimated that over 51% of Canadians are not getting enough physical activity to maintain good health2. Following a similar approach as above, start small, and think about how and where you could increase your activity in your day to day life. Consider a short walk on your lunch break, get off the bus farther away to sneak in a longer walk, get off the elevator below your destination and climb the stairs for the last few flights, find a buddy to go to a fitness class with, or hire a personal trainer to help you with knowledge and accountability. Whatever your level of fitness, challenge yourself to work a little bit harder. As with all physical activity programs, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning anything dramatically new.

Nurture Emotional Health. Chronic stress, sleep disturbances, depression emotional eating and eating for comfort can all make it very difficult to lose weight. If you find yourself experiencing any of these things, speak with your doctor and work with him/her to develop a well-rounded plan that will get your emotional well-being in tip-top shape. This will make achieving your weight loss goals much easier.

How Fast Should I Lose?

A healthy amount of weight to lose is no more than 2 pounds (1 kilogram) per week. While many fad diets suggest you can lose more, anything over 2 pounds per week is likely to be fluid loss, and could not be kept off over the long term. Typically, weight loss is more dramatic in the initial stages of a program. In the later weeks & months this weight loss will slow down, and frequently people will lose only ½ - 1 pound per week. At this stage it is critical to be patient and not feel frustrated. Keep in mind that it is still movement in the right direction and in fact is much more likely to be sustainable since it is gradual.

Remember… slow and steady wins the race!

Key References:
1Statistics Canada - Overweight and obese adults (self-reported), 2009.  
2CMAJ 2006,174(6):801-9. Health Benefits of Physical Activity: the evidence.