Regular exercise and a healthy diet are crucial when it comes to controlling your weight. Although there are many programs advertised to help you lose weight, the only method proven safe over the long-term is to burn more calories than you consume.
Exercising and eating right must become as much a part of your routine as bathing and brushing your teeth. Unless you are convinced of the benefits, you will not succeed.
Most people can lose weight by eating a healthier diet and exercising more. Even modest weight loss can improve your health. Sticking to a weight reduction program is not easy. You will need a lot of support from family and friends.
When dieting, your main goal should be to learn new, healthy ways of eating and make them a part of your everyday routine. Learn to read the nutrition labels and ingredients of all the foods you eat.
Work with your health care provider and dietitian to set realistic, safe daily calorie counts that help you lose weight while staying healthy. Remember that if you drop pounds slowly and steadily, you are more likely to keep them off. Your dietitian can teach you about healthy food choices, portion sizes, and new ways to prepare food.
Extreme diets (fewer than 1,100 calories per day) are not thought to be safe or to work very well.
- These types of diets often do not contain enough vitamins and minerals.
- People who are on these diets may experience symptoms such as fatigue, feeling cold most of the time, hair loss, or dizziness.
- There is a risk for gallbladder stones, changes in menstrual periods, and rarely, dangerous heart rhythms.
- Most people who lose weight this way return to overeating and become obese again.
See also: Sweeteners
Other changes can have an impact on your weight loss success:
- Eat only at the table. No snacking in front of the TV, in bed, while driving, or while standing in front of the open refrigerator.
- Learn about appropriate portion sizes.
- Choose low-calorie snacks, such as raw vegetables.
- Learn new ways to manage stress, rather than snacking. Examples may be meditation, yoga, or exercise.
- Keep a diet and exercise journal. This may help you identify overeating triggers in your life.
- If you are depressed, seek medical treatment rather than eating excessively to help cope with your depression.
- Find a support group or consider psychotherapy to help you achieve your weight loss goal.
To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat. Exercise is a key way to do this. Walking a mile a day for 30 days will help you burn off 1 pound of fat, as long as you don't eat more than usual.
If you have not been active, start slowly and build up over weeks or even months. Walking can be a good exercise to start with. Talk to your health care provider before starting.
Every week, increase the amount of time you spend doing the activity. Do it more often or add a second activity. You can increase the speed or difficulty of the activity (for example, by going up hills).
All adults should get 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise each week. Spread the exercise out over the week. Exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Find ways to increase your activity level very day.
- Walk instead of driving. If you have to drive, park several blocks away from your destination.
- Climb stairs instead of using an elevator or escalator.
- Do other house activities, such as gardening.
In addition to burning off extra calories, exercise will also:
- Lift your mood and help with anxiety
- Make your bones stronger
- Reduce your chance of having a heart attack or stroke
- Help you manage high blood pressure and cholesterol
MEDICATIONS AND HERBAL REMEDIES
There are many over-the-counter diet products. These include herbal remedies. Most of these products do not work and some can be dangerous. Before using an over-the-counter or herbal diet remedy, talk to your health care provider.
Several prescription weight loss drugs are available, including orlistat (Xenical) and Phentermine (Ionamin, Adipex-P, Fastin). Sibutramine (Meridia) is no longer on the market. Ask your health care provider if these are right for you.
Usually, you can lose between 5 and 10 pounds by taking these drugs. People usually regain the weight when they stop taking the medication, unless they have made lasting lifestyle changes.
Weight-loss surgery may be done to help you lose weight if you are very obese and have not been able to lose weight with diet and exercise.
Surgery alone is not the answer for weight loss. It can train you to eat less, but you still have to do much of the work. You must be committed to diet and exercise after the surgery.Talk to your doctor to learn if this is a good option for you.
The two most common weight-loss surgeries are:
Laparoscopic gastric banding -- the surgeon places a band around the upper part of your stomach, creating a small pouch to hold food. The band helps you limit how much food you eat by making you feel full after eating small amounts.
Gastric bypass surgery -- helps you lose weight by changing how your stomach and small intestine handle the food you eat. After the surgery, you will not be able to eat as much as before, and your body will not absorb all the calories and other nutrients from the food you eat.
You may have complications from these surgeries. One problem some people have is throwing up if they eat more than their new small stomach can hold.