Great, you have made a decision that will help you stay healthy and may actually reduce your need for diabetes medications. The goal is to lose body fat, not water and definitely not muscle. The slower you lose weight, the greater percentage of body fat loss. The faster you lose, the more muscle you lose and this in turn makes diabetes control harder. A slow steady weight loss of about 1 lb per week/ is best.
Now, how are you going to do it? Many people who are overweight don’t acknowledge that they eat more than they should. In order to put on the excess weight, you must have been taking in more fuel (calories) than you used. Excess fuel in the body is stored as fat. By deciding that you need to lose weight, you acknowledge that your previous eating and exercising habits need to change.
In order to lose 1 lb in weight, you need to think of the 1 lb as 3,500 calories of stored energy so to use it, you must exercise it off or eat 3.500 calories less. The best way is to burn it off by exercising while eating less so that it is not replenished.
Exercise more – Using a pedometer, track the steps you currently take and add 200 per week until you reach 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles) – the recommended daily activity level for adults. Make activity part of your daily schedule by:
- Getting off the bus one stop earlier and walking
- Parking the car at the furthest part of the car park
- Take the stairs instead of the lift or rollator.
- Ditch the remote control
- Do stretching exercises during every commercial break when watching TV
- Limit the amount of time you watch TV
- Select your favourite soap opera and decide to do gentle exercise during the full programme
Try to reduce your intake of food by 250-500 calories Eating less – try to reduce your intake of food by 250-500 calories a day as this would result in a ‘sensible’ rate of weight loss to aim for. People who lose weight more rapidly often put it back on.
Drink sugar free fluids when you’re feeling hungry. When you “crave” foods it may just be that you are thirsty. Most people aren’t keeping themselves adequately hydrated, causing a sense of hunger when in actual fact they are thirsty – Read: ‘Water is Essential for Life’
Do not go grocery shopping when you are hungry or tired. Take a precise shopping list with you and do not put sweet things or foods that are tempting in your cupboard.
While writing your precise grocery list, enjoy a cut-up piece of fruit as this will help you to feel satisfied and select better options.
Chew sugar free chewing gum especially if you are a “cook” that likes to sample each dish repeatedly.
You can still have the occasional sugar “fix” and enjoy it. Where possible select a more healthy alternative.
Do not have treats at home but enjoy a dessert when you are away from home. Split dessert with a friend when eating out. If you are making your own treats, reduce the amount of sugar or eliminate it by using a low calorie sugar substitute. Always remember to enjoy your food. Slowly savor each bite when you do eat a treat.
Barriers to trying to lose weight
Willpower– many people with a weight problem say they eat more because of low mood and feeling ‘defeated’. You may find that you lack the will power to stick to a programme of diet and exercise. If you think this might be you, enroll a “buddy” or seek out a support group.
Carrying excess weight may result in reducing your ability to exercise. Think of the extra weigh as a shopping bag filled with groceries and you will better understand why you suffer from fatigue, breathlessness, painful knees, poor circulation and sweating. Acknowledge that all extra movement helps to reduce the size of the grocery bag but also helps to tone up muscles in order to carry the bag.
Hunger is difficult to overcome. Could it be thirst or a craving for something else? Try ringing a friend, drinking a large glass of water or chewing some sugar free gum.
Special occasions and social pressures around food and drink make it difficult to eat healthily. Keeping to a diet is especially hard if food is nicely presented in front of you. But you still can make healthier choices or better still, have your planned healthy meal beforehand and politely say you are not hungry.
Changing another aspect of your life. Stopping smoking may result in weight gain as your appetite improves so trying to lose weight and stop smoking at the one time may not be realistic.
Are you making realists Goals or are you setting yourself to fail?
Specific – Ask yourself: What will I do? When will I do it? Where will I do it? Why will I do it?
How will I do it?
Measurable- Ask yourself: What is the measurable outcome? How will I know when I’ve achieved this?
Achievable – Ask yourself: Can I really commit to this? Do I believe I could do this (even if it’s hard)? What is needed of me to do this?
Realistic – Ask yourself: Is the timing right to start this? Is the goal too easy? too hard? Is this a double goal i.e. 2 actions?
Time phased – Ask yourself: When do I want this achieved and why? How much time do I have to spend each day to achieve this?
Now really think about your desire to lose weight. Finish the following sentence, write it down and put it somewhere you can see it. Decide to rethink about it each week at a specific time.
I will [your goal here] by [how will you do this]. I will know I am making progress because [how you will measure the goal] [time goes here].
For example: I will lose 1 pound over the next week by taking a 30 minute fast walk on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, cutting back on my sugar intake and be careful about my portion size. I will know I am making progress because I will lose 4 pounds in the next month.
Good. Now go do it!
For more information on weight loss, click here to see Safefoods Weight2Live campaign.