How to create a successful weight loss plan?

  1. Keep food records — write down everything you eat.
    Record keeping lets you know exactly what and how much you’re eating. It also allows you to identify problem patterns in your eating behavior. People who keep food records are more successful at weight loss.
  2. Keep activity records — type of activity, duration and intensity.
    Track the variety of activities and exercises that make up your day. Keeping a daily activity record for at least two weeks helps you to be accountable and should help you establish a regular exercise routine. Seeing your progress can build confidence and inspire you to set higher goals.
  3. Move more — walk or exercise for 60 minutes or more every day.
    Increase your walking or exercise to 60 minutes or more every day. This doesn’t have to be 60 minutes in addition to the 30 minutes or more recommended as part of Add 5 Habits. It’s 60 minutes or more total. Of course, the more the better, within reason.
  4. Eat “real food” — mostly fresh, and healthy foods.
    Food is processed to make it safe, available and convenient to use, but the processing may add unwanted fat, sugar, calories and salt. “Real food” is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients. Fast food is often filled with empty calories. Not everything that’s processed is bad — but it’s up to you to make the healthiest choices. “Real food” is often grown more locally and doesn’t have as much packaging.
  5. Write down your daily goals — what motivates you each and every day.
    Your overall weight goal can often be met through a series of smaller performance goals that build on one another. Goal setting keeps you motivated and helps you stick with your program.

How well do you know your natural energy sources?

Food  supplies micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, which don’t provide calories but help the body with chemical reactions. In addition, food is a source of water, fiber and other essential substances. Read on to learn more about the nutrients that your body needs to stay energized.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are the sugars found in fruits, honey, milk and milk products. They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly for energy.

Complex carbohydrates, also known as starches, are found primarily in whole grains, pasta, potatoes, beans and vegetables. Digestion is required to change complex carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Complex carbohydrates contain many vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. During processing, however, complex carbohydrates may be refined, removing many important nutrients — along with their benefits.

Fats

Fats are a natural component of various foods, and they come in different forms. The oils used in cooking are a form of fat. Fats are also found in foods of animal origin, such as meat, dairy, poultry and fish, and in such common foods as avocados, nuts and olives. Fats are a major source of energy and also help your body absorb some vitamins.

Proteins

Proteins build and repair body structures, produce body chemicals, carry nutrients to your cells and help regulate body processes. Excess proteins also provide calories. Proteins are composed of basic elements called amino acids. There are two types of amino acids: those your body can generate, known as nonessential amino acids, and those that can only be obtained from the food you eat, known as essential amino acids.

Vitamins

Many foods contain vitamins, such as A, B complex, C, D, E and K. Vitamins help your body use carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They also help produce blood cells, hormones, genetic material and chemicals for the nervous system. Deficiencies of these vitamins lead to various diseases.

During processing, foods can lose nutrients. Manufacturers sometimes enrich or fortify the processed food and add back nutrients. Fresh, natural foods, though, contain vitamins in their preferred natural state.

Minerals

Minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are important to the health of your bones and teeth. Sodium, potassium and chloride, commonly referred to as electrolytes, help regulate the balance of water and chemicals in your body. Your body needs smaller amounts of minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, copper, fluoride, selenium and manganese, commonly referred to as trace minerals.

Water

It’s easy to take water for granted, but it’s a vital nutritional requirement. Many foods, especially fruits, contain a lot of water. Water plays a role in nearly every major body function. It regulates body temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen cells via the bloodstream and helps carry away waste. Water also helps cushion joints and protects organs and tissues.

 

Fiber

Fiber is the part of plant foods that your body doesn’t absorb. The two main types are soluble and insoluble, and fiber-rich foods usually contain both.

Foods high in soluble fiber include citrus fruits, apples, pears, plums and prunes, oatmeal and oat bran, and barley. Legumes, such as dried beans and peas, are also high in soluble fiber. This type of fiber helps lower blood cholesterol, slows the rise in blood sugar and adds bulk to stools.

Insoluble fiber is found in many vegetables, wheat bran, and whole-grain breads, pasta and cereals. Insoluble fiber also adds bulk to stool, stimulates the gastrointestinal tract, and helps prevent constipation.

 

 

5 easy ways to eat more fruits and veggies.

There is a plethora of produce available in the United States, and yet most adults don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, dietary intake of several nutrients found in fruits and vegetables — including potassium and dietary fiber — is low enough to be a public-health concern for both adults and children.

Your goal is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Aim for a whole rainbow of colors, including dark green, red, orange, purple and white. Variety is vital to get all the different nutrients and their health benefits.

Try to buy fresh whole fruits and vegetables in season — they will be at their peak in flavor and at their lowest in price. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can be healthy choices, too. Reach for low-sodium canned vegetables or canned fruits packed in their own juice or water, and avoid frozen vegetables with sauces, frozen fruits with added sugar and canned fruits packed in heavy syrup.

Make fruits and veggies the star of your daily diet with these ideas:

  1. Snack smart. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Or reach for vegetables that require little preparation, such as baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. Keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter. Just be sure to limit your intake of dried fruits because they’re not as filling as whole fruits and they have a lot more calories in a smaller volume of food. For example, 1⁄4 cup of raisins has the same number of calories — about 100 — as almost 2 cups of grapes.
  2. Experiment with new combinations. Try mango or peach slices on whole-wheat toast with a little peanut butter and honey. Toss some mandarin orange or peach slices into a salad.
  3. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as a main ingredient. Try pineapple-chicken stir-fry, tomato-basil pizza or vegetarian chili.
  4. Start your day with a fruit or vegetable. Sprinkle a handful of blueberries on your morning cereal or oatmeal. Saute red peppers, tomatoes or spinach into your scrambled eggs.
  5. Drink your fruits and vegetables. But don’t reach for prepared fruit juice! Instead, turn whole fruits and vegetables into a refreshing drink. Make a smoothie with plain low-fat yogurt and your favorite frozen fruits. Or puree together banana, berries, lemon, mint, ice and 2 cups of fresh raw baby spinach — this green concoction may look odd, but it tastes delicious!

As you can see from these suggestions, sneaking more fruits and veggies into your diet can be easy, convenient — and fun!

By Mayo Clinic Staff .

Did your weight loss journey hit a plateau?

Sure, you want to lose weight, but are you in the right mindset to make it happen? Stop sabotaging your efforts with a self-defeating outlook and stay motivated to reach your goals with these effective techniques.

Negative beliefs and self-talk

The internal dialogue you have with yourself influences your actions. Thoughts such as “I’ll never lose weight” or “I’m no good at exercising” can weaken your self-esteem and stall your progress. Replace these thoughts with positive statements. Instead of: “I can’t stick with an exercise program,” tell yourself: “I can meet one realistic goal today.”

Unrealistic expectations

Many people imagine that losing weight will solve all their problems. Your life will likely change with weight loss — but probably not in all the ways you imagine. Losing weight doesn’t guarantee a better social life or more satisfying job. Keep your expectations focused on those very real benefits like more energy and higher self-esteem.

Inflexibility

Words such as always, never or must place undue pressure on you. Telling yourself you’ll never eat chocolate again or you must walk two miles a day can lead to guilt-ridden lapses. Instead, treat yourself now and then in ways that make sense — when you’re out to dinner with friends, not when you’re feeling sad.

All-or-nothing thinking

One setback doesn’t mean failure. If you eat too much one day, you haven’t blown your plan. Counteract this kind of thinking with moderation — no “good” and “bad” foods, for example, and it’s OK to have dessert once in a while. Remind yourself you can get back on track tomorrow.

Be flexible on your weight-loss journey. Don’t expect perfection. If you have a slip-up, learn from it and move on.

How to stay motivated this Holiday Season .

To be successful at losing weight, you need to figure out what will give you an ongoing, burning desire to succeed. You need to tap your inner motivation. By understanding what motivates you, you’ll be better able to follow through with your eating and fitness plan.

Consider the benefits of losing weight and staying fit listed below. Rank your top three reasons, with 1 as your most important. Rank more than three if you want, and add your own reasons if they’re not on the list. Post the list where you’ll see it often.

  • Look better
  • Feel better
  • Feel comfortable in my clothes
  • Improve my physical stamina
  • Improve my self-image and self-confidence
  • Improve my outlook on life
  • Increase my energy
  • Be a role model for my family
  • Manage high blood pressure
  • Improve my cholesterol
  • Prevent or manage diabetes
  • Reduce joint pain
  • Prevent or reduce lower-back pain
  • Improve my sleep
  • Improve my quality of life
  • Increase my life expectancy

Sometimes temptation to indulge in certain foods or skipping a workout will be greater than your desire to lose weight. During these difficult moments, reflect on the top reasons why you are making healthy lifestyle changes. It won’t always be easy, but keep in mind the important fact that you will never regret making good decisions!

6 tips to loving your body more.

Do you despair when comparing the way you look with the way you feel you should look? Do you constantly pick yourself apart and dissect every imperfection? Many people struggle with a negative body image. This can impact your mood, which in turn can trigger overeating episodes. Consider these tips for loving and accepting yourself more.

  • Recognize that you are more than your body. Write a list of your strengths and best features, and add to it often. Put a few self-affirming messages (“I’m strong and resilient!”) on your mirror. Having positive self-esteem can help us manage negative thoughts about our bodies.
  • Make a list of people you admire — from your parents or children to political leaders or world figures. Do they have perfect bodies? Does it matter? Or are there other characteristics you admire in them? You probably have some of these same characteristics, so give yourself credit for them.
  • Exercise regularly. You’ll tone your body and boost your self-esteem. In fact, a study showed that women who worked out on a regular basis rated their bodies as more attractive and healthier than did women who weren’t as physically active.
  • Appreciate the body you have. Think of it as a gift. Recognize all the things your body can do. Show it some respect by eating well and getting enough rest.
  • Focus on your health instead of thinking only about your appearance. If you’d like a healthier body shape or weight, set small, realistic goals and work to meet them.
  • Surround yourself with friends who don’t focus on body size or appearance. Encourage one another to focus on healthy habits instead of appearance.

Choosing to view your body in a positive light — no matter how flawed you’re used to seeing yourself — is important to your weight-loss success. To feel good about what you’re accomplishing by improving your health, it helps to feel good about your body.

Strategies to help control eating trigger.

Identifying the situations that trigger poor eating habits can help you develop strategies to overcome them. Do any of these areas trip you up? Try these simple solutions to inspire healthy changes in your everyday life.

Activities

When you watch TV or read, do you always have a snack at hand? Do you eat at your desk while you work or while you’re preparing dinner? It’s all too easy to take in excess calories without realizing it. To change your habits, keep track of everything you eat — and where and when you eat it — for a few days. It can be eye-opening! Once you become more aware of your snacking, you may find it easier to stop the nibbling or substitute other behaviors for it.

Favored foods

Are there some foods that you can’t eat in moderation, such as cookies or potato chips? Do you find that the sight or smell of certain foods tempts you to overeat? Keep exposure to these foods to a minimum. Don’t keep tempting treats at home — if it’s in the house, it’s in your mouth! However, don’t deny yourself your favorites, either. Portion out a small amount — but not when you’re overly hungry, so you’ll be more likely to take more. Split a favorite treat with a friend when eating out, or buy yourself a small portion every couple of weeks.

Time of day

Are there certain times of the day when you’re more susceptible to overeating? Do you crave a snack after work or a late-night bowl of ice cream? Identify your vulnerable times of day. If hunger is a factor, keep yourself well-stocked with handy healthy foods, such as mandarin oranges, walnuts or whole-wheat crackers. If eating at certain times is simply a habit, find a substitute, such as a cup of chamomile tea or a relaxing bath.

Social settings

Do you eat more when you’re around certain people? Do you snack anytime your partner does? Do social outings lead to nonstop noshing? Social eating patterns can undermine weight-loss efforts. Recognize where and when social influence plays a role in your eating habits and decide what you want to change. Keep in mind that you can affect when and what others eat as well — take the lead!

Physical factors

Does skipping breakfast cause you to lose control of your eating? When you’re tired, do you turn to junk food for energy? Following your meal plan — including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks — can help keep hunger under control. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep helps with weight management, too.

Emotions

Do certain feelings cause you to snack — boredom, loneliness, stress or anxiety? Do you use certain foods to self-soothe? Learn to separate food from mood. Monitor your mood and strive to distinguish true hunger from emotion-driven eating. When emotions are high, use other coping strategies, such as calling a friend or taking a walk.

 

How to track your eating habits.

Research suggests that one of the best ways to change unhealthy eating habits is to first keep track of them, which makes sense considering most of us underestimate what we actually eat in a day. By identifying patterns of unhealthy eating choices in the record you keep, you can begin to change them.

Create a food record that includes the following items:

  • Date and day of the week. Also note the exact time or the general time of day — such as morning, lunchtime or evening.
  • All foods you eat and drink. Be specific on the types and amounts, and include details such as added fats, sugars — like butter, honey and other sweeteners — and beverages.
  • Portion sizes. Measure or estimate the size in volume, weight or number of items.
  • Your location when you eat. Write down where you are, whether it’s in your car, at your desk or on the couch — and whether you’re eating alone or with someone else.
  • What you’re doing while you eat. Pay attention to what else you may be focused on, such as watching TV or socializing at a restaurant.
  • Your mood. How do you feel — happy, sad, stressed out?

 

To make your food record worthwhile, be honest and record every bite of food you eat. If you don’t record everything, you won’t have an accurate picture of your intake. For the most accurate results, try to record your food intake within 15 minutes of the time you eat. Use a daily food journal to help keep you accountable.

Diet setback recovery tips.

A lapse occurs when you revert to your old behaviors temporarily. If several lapses have occurred in a short time, it’s tempting to think your weight-loss plan is too challenging. Not to worry; a lapse is just a short-term bump in the road. Following these tips will help you regain ground:

  • Don’t let negative thoughts take over. Mistakes happen, and each day is a chance to start anew.
  • Take another small step. Changing your life doesn’t happen all at once. Keep in mind that changing behaviors in small ways can add up to a big difference in your life.
  • Ask for and accept support. Accepting support from other people isn’t a sign of weakness, nor does it mean that you’re failing. Get support from others when you have difficult days.
  • Plan your strategy. Clearly identify the problem, and then create a list of possible solutions. If one solution doesn’t work, try another until you find one that does.
  • Work out your frustration with exercise. Keep it upbeat and even fun — don’t use physical activity as a punishment.
  • Recommit to your goals.
  • Review them to make sure they’re still realistic.

Although lapses can be disappointing, they can also teach you a lot. Perhaps your goals are unrealistic or certain strategies don’t work. Most importantly, realize that all hope isn’t lost when you lapse. Just recharge your motivation, recommit to your program and return to healthy behaviors.

Dietary sources of energy.

It’s important to fuel your tank properly if you want to keep it running. The food you eat supplies many types of macronutrients — carbohydrates, fats and proteins — which deliver the energy (or calories) your body needs to function. Food also supplies micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, which don’t provide calories but help the body with chemical reactions. In addition, food is a source of water, fiber and other essential substances. Read on to learn more about the nutrients that your body needs to stay energized.


Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are the sugars found in fruits, honey, milk and milk products. They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly for energy.

Complex carbohydrates, also known as starches, are found primarily in whole grains, pasta, potatoes, beans and vegetables. Digestion is required to change complex carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Complex carbohydrates contain many vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. During processing, however, complex carbohydrates may be refined, removing many important nutrients — along with their benefits.


Fats

Fats are a natural component of various foods, and they come in different forms. The oils used in cooking are a form of fat. Fats are also found in foods of animal origin, such as meat, dairy, poultry and fish, and in such common foods as avocados, nuts and olives. Fats are a major source of energy — or calories — and also help your body absorb some vitamins.


Proteins

Proteins build and repair body structures, produce body chemicals, carry nutrients to your cells and help regulate body processes. Excess proteins also provide calories. Proteins are composed of basic elements called amino acids. There are two types of amino acids: those your body can generate, known as nonessential amino acids, and those that can only be obtained from the food you eat, known as essential amino acids.


Vitamins

Many foods contain vitamins, such as A, B complex, C, D, E and K. Vitamins help your body use carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They also help produce blood cells, hormones, genetic material and chemicals for the nervous system. Deficiencies of these vitamins lead to various diseases.

During processing, foods can lose nutrients. Manufacturers sometimes enrich or fortify the processed food and add back nutrients. Fresh, natural foods, though, contain vitamins in their preferred natural state.


Minerals

Minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are important to the health of your bones and teeth. Sodium, potassium and chloride, commonly referred to as electrolytes, help regulate the balance of water and chemicals in your body. Your body needs smaller amounts of minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, copper, fluoride, selenium and manganese, commonly referred to as trace minerals.


Water

It’s easy to take water for granted, but it’s a vital nutritional requirement. Many foods, especially fruits, contain a lot of water. Water plays a role in nearly every major body function. It regulates body temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen cells via the bloodstream and helps carry away waste. Water also helps cushion joints and protects organs and tissues.


Fiber

Fiber is the part of plant foods that your body doesn’t absorb. The two main types are soluble and insoluble, and fiber-rich foods usually contain both.

Foods high in soluble fiber include citrus fruits, apples, pears, plums and prunes, oatmeal and oat bran, and barley. Legumes, such as dried beans and peas, are also high in soluble fiber. This type of fiber helps lower blood cholesterol, slows the rise in blood sugar and adds bulk to stools.

Insoluble fiber is found in many vegetables, wheat bran, and whole-grain breads, pasta and cereals. Insoluble fiber also adds bulk to stool, stimulates the gastrointestinal tract, and helps prevent constipation.