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Six Tips to Jump Start Weight Loss in the New Year

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weight_loss_woman_on_scaleLosing weight and getting into shape is typically the top New Year’s resolution people make. In addition to a healthy diet and exercising, what else can one do to make sure those good intentions have a lasting impact throughout the year? 

Below are research-based tips that may help jump start your weight loss progress in the coming year.

Keep moving each day. We all know that exercise is crucial to losing weight, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. For people that can not find the time to exercise, try incorporating some exercise into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further away from your destination. Consider exercises at lunchtime before you leave work and get sidetracked (or tired.) All it takes to see a weight-loss benefit is 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity daily to start getting the weight to come off. – just try to do it each day. Research shows that the exercise doesn’t have to be all at once. Exercise can be broken into 10 or 15-minute sessions throughout the day to get the weight-loss benefit.

Set realistic goals. “The biggest mistake people make when trying to lose weight is trying to lose too many pounds too fast or setting unrealistic goals,” according to Jeff Behar, a nutrition and health expert and CEO of . “For long-term weight loss success, aim for a slow, steady weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds a week. Rapid weight loss often results in lethargy, poor health and a slowed metabolism that can cause you to not only gain the weight back – but according to many studies, a few pounds more.

Set specific goals. Instead of resolving to “lose weight,” which is too general, set several smaller but more specific goals, such as losing 2 dress sizes in 4 weeks. Also set diet goals like aiming to eat five small low fat, high protein meals. Set small fitness goals, like working out 1 hour a day 5 days a week. “By setting small, attainable goals and healthy behaviors to your routine you will increase your odds of long term sustainable weight loss” according to Jeff Behar.

Keep a food journal. Keeping a food journal is one of the most effective ways of controlling extra calories. By spending a little extra time to write down everything you eat and drink, you’ll be able to see where extra calories sneak in. The mere act of writing down what you eat helps control overeating. It also helps increase your knowledge regarding food content (calories, fat, etc.). There are lots of good online tools that can help estimate the calorie content of common foods that you can use to complete your food journal and track your weight loss progress over time.

Lift weights. Several studies have shown that adding lean muscle mass through resistance training improves weight maintenance and weight loss. Additional lean muscle increases the body's resting metabolic rate and results in more calories burned daily.

Practice Yoga. Two observational studies conducted by cancer prevention researcher Alan Kristal, Dr. P.H., a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division, have found an association between regular yoga practice and weight maintenance and weight loss. One of Kristal's studies, published in 2005, found that regular yoga practice prevents middle-age spread in normal-weight people and promote weight loss in those who are overweight. A follow-up study in 2009 found that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating, and people who eat mindfully are less likely to be obese. The study concluded that the mindfulness in eating gained from yoga leads to less weight gain over time, independent of the calories burned from yoga practice.

Don’t let one slip-up ruin your weight loss efforts. Don’t throw in the towel on your New Year's weight loss resolution just because you had a bad day. Instead, try to identify what triggered the bad behavior, so that you can address the cause and prevent a re-occurrence. the specific barriers that got in your way and think through strategies to avoid such challenges in the future.” For example, to avoid the temptation of eating bad food when you watch TV at night, make some healthier alternatives (like air popped pop corn or cut veggies) before you sit down to watch some TV. Or better yet, skip the TV and go for a walk!

Last modified on Monday, 13 February 2012 12:37
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