Healthy Weight Week, January 16 – 22, celebrates healthy lifestyles that last a lifetime and prevent eating and weight problems. Cheryl Pelland-Lak, RD, Baystate Health dietitian, offers some advice to help people of all sizes to live actively, eat well and feel good about themselves and others.
“What people should try to accept first is that ‘thin’ isn’t necessarily the ideal for everyone,” Pelland-Lak advises. “Our society has been taught that we must diet, diet, diet, always striving to be thin.” She continues, “There are many body types, and not all of them are conducive to ‘thin.” Learn to respect and appreciate size diversity, and start with yourself.”
If you do decide you want to lose weight, Pelland-Lak recommends making small, manageable changes in your lifestyle and eating habits. “Don’t feel you must exercise for a half hour every day if you’re not used to exercising; just go out for a walk, or plan a 5 – 10 minute exercise session to start. You’ll have more of a sense of accomplishment if you got out and did something than if you aimed for ½ hour and only made it to 15 minutes.”
The same thing holds with weight loss. “Try setting yourself a goal of losing 5% of your weight, or even 5 pounds – something attainable and manageable,” says Pelland-Lak. Studies show that even losing as little as 5 pounds can affect blood pressure levels and decrease risk of heart problems and diabetes. And, Pelland-Lak added, “You’ll have the same sense of accomplishment as you got with the short walk. If you set a goal of 25 pounds and only lose 5, you feel like a failure. If you set a goal of 5 pounds and lose 5, you feel successful.”
Pelland-Lak has a few suggestions for specific ways to cut down on food intake:
- Include protein in your meals, especially at breakfast time – an egg, yogurt, whole-grain bread with peanut butter. Protein helps keep appetite in check.
- Pick just one thing to drop from your diet. For example, if you drink a lot of soda, cut out one soda a day.
- Drink green tea – a cup a day – it contains important antioxidants that make it an easy metabolism booster.
- Eat whole-grain cereal for breakfast. Fiber helps you feel fuller. A fiber-rich apple before a meal can have the same effect.
Finally, Pelland-Lak recommends trying to stay relaxed and stress-free about your weight, diet, and exercise program. Listen to your body; be flexible and go with the flow. Take time to promote good relationships with others and spend time enjoying social activities. “Instead of watching TV together, go for a walk or play a game outside with your family or friends,” Pelland-Lak suggests. “And instead of going out for a pizza together, share a healthy eating adventure together, finding a nutritious and tasty meal and preparing and eating it together.
“With a positive attitude and a sense of adventure, and by taking everything one small step at a time, you will find yourself well on your way to developing a lifestyle that is both healthy and happy,” Pelland-Lak concludes.