If you follow business news, then you probably already know that Oprah Winfrey bought a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers in October after following the program for a few months. If you were vegging out to some HGTV during the holidays, then you definitely saw Oprah’s moving debut advertisement for the weight loss powerhouse. We’ve all witnessed her very public and honest experiences with dieting and working out, so we were intrigued with the partnership.
Oprah’s power as a spokesperson is so valued that Weight Watchers altered its core message and will also focus on her message of living a healthy and happier life, not just on losing weight. Birmingham specialists are embracing the concept, seeking to educate people, help them change their behaviors and make better choices while successfully shedding pounds. Here we get expert input on how to do just that.
Top 10 weight loss tips from local experts:
1. Be kind to yourself.
“Having positive regard and compassion for yourself is a good foundation for making changes,” says Dr. Martha Anne Rich, a psychologist, life coach and founder of Rich Potential. “It’s easier to mobilize for change when you believe that you’re as valuable and as deserving of good things as others, because you are.”
2. Throw out the word “diet.”
Replace it with “way of life,” advises Sandra Koulourides, M.S., R.D. and founder of Fuel + Fitness. “And remember, small changes make a difference,” she says. “Just 100 extra calories each day equals a 10-pound gain in a year; 150 fewer calories a day adds up to a 15-pound loss in a year! Look at your eating habits and see what you can easily change. I had a client that ate frozen yogurt every night after she put her kids to bed. She stopped that habit and saw a difference immediately. There are no quick fixes; you have to be willing to change and do the work.”
3. Keep a food journal, at least for a few months.
Koulourides requires her clients to do so. “The journal helps you be accountable and provides information about your habits and temptations that we can address through meal planning. If you find yourself slipping, pull out that journal again and start writing to determine how you’ve gone off course.”
4. Decide why you want to lose weight.
Sounds easy, right? But when the going gets tough, you may need to revisit your initial thinking, the motivation that got you started. “It’s important to frequently remind yourself of the meaningful reasons you are making changes in the first place. What are you hoping to accomplish by losing weight?” asks Rich. “Are you losing weight in order to feel better about the way you look, improve fitness or athletic performance, decrease joint pain, move around more comfortably, lower your blood pressure? Be as specific as possible, and create an image of that preferred future in your mind,” she says. “When we are tempted or stagnant, it’s easy to tell ourselves those things aren’t as important as they initially were, or that our efforts today or in general don’t really matter or make a difference. Keep physical reminders about what you want and what you envision for your future, share your goals with others, realize that a setback isn’t forever and get back on track.”
5. Get your hormone levels evaluated.
As we age, it can be even more challenging to shed pounds. “The reason why is that in perimenopause and menopause, our hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, pregnanelone and growth hormone start declining,” says Dr. Farah Sultan, internist and founder of Vitalogy Wellness Center. “They are absolutely essential in maintaining our bone mass and muscle mass, and they help us burn fat and get great results from workouts, so it is essential to also balance your hormones to help with weight loss.”
6. Invest in an accurate scale and use it.
“We’ve all heard that it’s not good to weigh daily, but actually, newer research tells us that weighing frequently, even daily, is helpful,” says Rich. “It’s often not the facts that cause us problems. It’s how we interpret the number we see on the scale. If we look at a pound increase over a few days and say, ‘I’m such a loser, I knew I’d gain it back,’ that’s not helpful. But if we look at the number and say, ‘Looks like a possible upward trend. What have I done differently in the past few days?’ The scale will help you detect changes in your weight quickly, so that you can get back on track if you choose. Self-monitoring is a key step in changing behavior.”
7. Shift your thinking when maintaining.
“Losing weight is rewarding almost immediately, because as the ounces and pounds start to drop off, it becomes clear that you’re making the right changes,” says Rich. “In contrast, maintenance is rather mundane, and willpower tends to wane during a plateau. At this point, you want fully established habits in place that support your new lifestyle. Give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made, stick with your new schedule and habits with support from others, and remember your values that inspired your change in the first place.”
8. Add strength training to your workout.
While 60 to 80 percent of weight loss is related to food, exercise is still important. “The current thinking is that short durations of high intensity are much more beneficial and rewarding rather than long durations at a low or moderate intensity,” says Sultan. “As we age, it is especially imperative to maintain muscle mass and incorporating strength training is essential to get toned and in the best shape.” says Sultan.
9. Seek professional help and support if needed.
“There are so many misconceptions about weight loss out there, and it can be very confusing,” says Koulourides. “Some clients think ‘gluten free’ or ‘low fat’ means it’s healthy. A lot of what I do is education about healthy eating and teaching clients how to make good choices. You’ve got to be prepared, or prepare to fail!”
10. Be kind to yourself and your body.
Yes, it bears repeating. “Your size does not make you who you are, but it is important to feel good and be healthy,” says Koulourides. “You may never be the size you’ve fantasized about, but by paying attention to your body, you can prevent illnesses related to excessive weight, like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Your body can only take so much!”
To echo Oprah’s challenge to viewers in one of her Weight Watchers spots, “Let’s let 2016 be the year of our best bodies!”
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