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Five Tips to Help You Keep Your Weight-Loss Resolution

Lorraine Burke, MS, RD News We're a week into the new year, and if one of your resolutions was to lose weight, you may already be facing some challenges with sticking to that goal you so enthusiastically embraced on January 1. It is not easy to change habits related to food!

If you’re struggling, first of all, don’t become discouraged. You may not make the best choices every time you eat, but if you’re making better choices most of the time, you’re making progress—and progress leads to success. Here are a few tips to help in your weight-loss journey.

Tip #1: Keep a food log. This is one of the best ways to stay on track by learning about your relationship with food. Make three columns on a piece of paper. In the first column, record the date and time you ate. In the middle column, list what you ate. In the right-hand column, make a note of your hunger level, as well as the feelings and mood you were experiencing when you ate.

Keeping a log works because it prevents “food amnesia.” When you come home hungry after a hard day of work, for instance, it can be easy to forget you had a big piece of cheesecake at lunch. When that information is right there before you in your food log, you’re more likely to make a better and more moderate choice for dinner.

In addition, a food log forces you to be aware about the food you’re eating and why you’re eating it. Take time to regularly review what you’re eating when you’re tired, angry, bored, sad and so forth. Set a goal to remove your emotions from your eating habits. As part of that process, come up with some things you will do to replace emotional eating with some positive habit, such as taking the dog for a walk, knitting or working on a jigsaw puzzle.

If you’re more of a digital person than a paper person, you’ll find lots of choices of apps that help you track your food intake. Just be sure to choose an app because it meets all your needs for food tracking, not because it is pretty or has a lot of bells and whistles.

Tip #2: Weigh yourself every morning. Your weight is more consistent and accurate in the morning, so this is the best time of day to check it. You don’t have to be obsessive about your daily weight, because a lot of factors go into that number. But like a food journal, it’s a way to stay mindful about your resolution to lose weight. You might even want to add a column in your food journal to record your weight.

Tip #3: Change your self-talk. Don’t say, “I should have lost more weight this week.” Instead, make it, “Hey, I lost a pound this week! Good job!” Positivity will help you stay with your weight-loss journey for the long term.

Tip #4: Give yourself non-food rewards. In our society, we tend to celebrate with food. But it just doesn’t make sense to reward yourself for losing five pounds by eating a huge pasta meal! When you reach a weight-loss goal, give yourself a reward that doesn’t involve food. Go to a museum or a concert. Take a trip to the beach or go hiking in the mountains. If you’re a shopper, buy yourself a new pair of earrings or shoes—something that doesn’t require you to be a particular size. There’s a bonus to these types of rewards: You’re not only avoiding food, you’re getting some exercise while having fun.

Tip #5: Develop a support system. People are more successful in reaching their goals when they work with an accountability partner. Find a workout buddy or another person who is trying to lose weight, or enlist a family member, friend or co-worker for you to be accountable to. Getting professional help can be a great benefit too. For instance, Simi Valley Hospital’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling Program is there for anyone in the community who wants to learn to make better food choices.

Losing weight takes time and commitment, but the rewards are great. Best wishes for better health in 2016!

Lorraine Burke is an outpatient dietitian with Simi Valley Hospital’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling Program.