Weight Loss For Life

Suzanne Girard Eberle, M.S., R.D., registered dietitian and nutrition coach

What do fad diets, diet pills and complicated "calorie-burning" gizmos have in common? They don't work.

People who are successful at losing weight and keeping it off do so by making small daily choices that add up over time. For example, taking a walk before sitting down to watch TV, choosing a large salad and a small hamburger or calling a supportive friend instead of reaching for another piece of cake.

In other words, smart choices that are sustainable for a lifetime. To get there, you'll need a plan built on specific and measurable food, exercise and emotional health goals. Vague announcements like "I'm going to get more exercise" sound good but rarely work because it's not clear what you need to focus on. With smart goals you know at the end of the day whether or not you've met them.

Food: Don't Count Your Calories - Make Your Calories Count

Keep a food journal and track your eating habits for a week. Choose one or two specific things you want to change about your current eating habits.

Make a smart plan: Do you succumb to the vending machine every afternoon? Plan for the week ahead and buy five pieces of fruit. Bring to work and eat one a day as an afternoon snack.

Exercise: If You Don't Move, You're Not Going to Lose

Make time - don't think "if I'm going to exercise today," but "when." What can you delegate or eliminate to make room in your schedule?

Make a smart plan: Choose activities you enjoy and schedule at least 30 minutes of purposeful exercise five days a week. For example, wear a pedometer (step counter) and commit to walking a specific number of steps each day.

Emotions: Separate What You Eat From How You Feel

If you routinely use food to stifle rather than deal with stress or emotions, you sabotage your effort to lose weight. Success will come when you meet your emotional needs without relying on food.

Make a Smart Plan: Next time you reach for candy or a second helping, stop and ask yourself if you're physically hungry.

If you're eating for reasons other than physical hunger, do something else that doesn't involve food. Phone a friend, clean house or do something physical that creates endorphins - the "feel good" chemicals in the brain.

The Bottom Line: Weight Loss Takes Patience, Persistence and Planning.

Forget the "short-cuts" and take it one day at a time. Practice the 80/20 rule. Strive to make smart choices 80 percent of the time: get moving, choose foods that you like and are good for you, and don't rely on food to meet your emotional needs.

Go easy on yourself the other 20 percent of the time. You'll head in the right direction without feeling guilty or deprived. Days turn to weeks, weeks to months, and before you know it, you're well on the path to a healthier weight and a more positive relationship with food.

Need to Lose a Few? We Can Help. Providence Health Plan (PHP) Offers Discounts for Weight Loss Classes:

For Portland-area members, consider "Groovin' a New Weigh," a group program helping women make healthier food choices and stick with an exercise program or "Changing From the Inside Out," a group program that focuses on emotions that affect your eating and activity patterns. Providence Health Plan members pay $55 for either class.

For members outside the Portland-metro area, Providence Health Plan provides reimbursement for classes taken at PHP-contracting hospitals. Members can be reimbursed for completed courses up to $180, after the first $55. Class information.

The LifeBalance Program offers discounts for Providence Health Plan members to fitness clubs, walking, jogging, recreational activities and much more.

GoodHealth News - Providence Health Plans