Amit Dande, MD
Dr. Dande is an Interventional Cardiologist with Prairie Heart Institute at Sarah Bush Lincoln.
January is traditional time for New Year resolutions. Most of these will fall through the cracks by February.The key to SMART resolutions is to make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. For cardiovascular health one important goal is losing weight. While you may think that getting the weight off as quickly and as much as possible – ‘The Biggest Loser’ style – is a good strategy, research suggests otherwise. The best way to achieve long term weight loss is to have a long term plan. Changing lifetime habits is hard to do, however that is the best way to achieve a lasting impact. Everything else is a short term fix and may actually be harmful. You probably didn’t put the weight on in a month, so you probably won’t lose it in a month either. Our bodies dislike sudden changes.
Achieving weight loss is a lot like balancing your checkbook. The food you eat is your ‘income’ and your daily physical activity is your ‘expenditure’. To lose weight you have to ‘earn less’ and ‘spend more’. Cutting calories is probably the easiest and should be the first step.
Research suggests that special diets help short-term weight loss, however most people just gain it back once they return to their regular diet.
Reducing the sugar and fat consumption should be the first step of every weight loss strategy. Consider switching to a fruit plate instead of dessert. Reducing portion size with each meal and cutting out snacks will go a long way towards reducing the calories you consume. Increasing fiber – fresh fruit and vegetables - in your diet may help keep you full between mealtimes.
Over time your body will adjust and you will feel full with smaller portion sizes. Talk to your friends and family about their diets – especially the young ones. Bad habits often start at a young age and last a lifetime.