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ASK A SPECIALIST: How Can I Set Realistic Weight-loss Goals?

Article Date: 
6 July, 2012 (All day)

Setting goals can help people move forward in their lives; however, one of the main reasons for not meeting goals is not having a doable plan. A goal should be SMART -- specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely with a plan to achieve it. Consider these ideas when setting weight loss goals. 
• Eat appropriate proportions. Our society suffers from ‘portion distortion’ and ‘biggie sizing’ many things. By eating the right amounts and not over-eating, you can maintain a healthier weight. Larger plate sizes also tend to encourage overeating, so watch your plate size.
• Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals causes a body to think it is in starvation mode and it actually tries to store food (fat). Smaller meals and healthy snacks throughout the day can help you lose weight or help maintain the proper weight.
• Don’t cut out a food group. All food groups (even sweets) have a purpose in your diet in helping maintain the proper weight. Cutting out a food or food group (unless you have allergies or other health concerns) can cause you to be less healthy, or even heavier, and possibly not able to lose weight. Choosing foods with healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated and Omega-3 fatty acids) are important to body functions rather than unhealthy fats (saturated and trans-fats), which can increase health risks.
• Focus on what you can have rather than what you can’t have. Follow the new dietary guidelines by increasing fruits and vegetables to fill half of your plate at mealtime. Include whole grains (half of 6 oz. should be whole grains), lean protein (5.5 oz.) and don’t forget the dairy each day. For more information, visit choosemyplate.gov.
• It is okay to occasionally have sweets. Eating a small portion of dessert rather than none at all will likely keep you from eating the whole pie later.
• Reduce stress and don’t become sleep deprived. Studies show that stress and tiredness can cause unhealthiness and weight gain. Also, being in a hurry while eating can make you not feel full when you really are. Slow down and savor your food.
• Avoid drastic changes that will cause the yo-yo effect. Small changes over a lifetime are more effective than trying to do it all at once. Fad diets also have a tendency to cause weight gain later and you can end up having more weight to lose than when you started. Notice how you’re feeling when you eat. Emotions can contribute to overeating as well.
• Lose fat, not muscle. Gradual weight loss of one to two pounds per week, eating right and increasing activity levels will help. Remember that muscle is leaner than fat, so when exercising, you may be trimming down and losing fat but still may weigh the same because you are gaining muscle.
• Drink plenty of water. Water helps curb the appetite and sometimes when you think you are hungry, you are actually thirsty. When you feel thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. If you don’t like tap water, try drinking filtered or bottled water.
• Visit choosemyplate.gov for more information. The site includes information on steps to a healthier weight, daily food plans, SuperTracker, tips, resources and more.