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February 14, 2006 > Losing Weight and Keeping It Off

Losing Weight and Keeping It Off

It's a month into 2006, and you've been working hard to shed those pounds and move toward a "healthier you." You may have experienced ups and downs in sticking with changes in your lifestyle. But, hopefully, you are moving in the right direction-losing about a pound a week. Remember, the more slowly and gradually you take off the weight, the better chance you will keep it off for good.

If you've lost about four or five pounds in the past month, you may still have a long way to go before reaching your target weight. Don't be too hard on yourself. It may be wiser to take a step-by-step approach to weight loss: Lose a certain amount and then maintain at that weight for awhile before trying to lose more.

"It is certainly easier to maintain, than to lose, weight," says Shelli Bodnar, M.D., family practice physician with the Washington Clinic/Warm Springs. "The body adapts to certain habits like exercise and eating. If you find you've 'plateau-ed' in your weight loss-or if the weight is beginning to creep back-two things you can do are changing your exercise routine and modifying your diet by further restricting calories."
Dr. Bodnar and Anna Mazzei, R.D., clinical dietitian with Food and Nutrition Services at Washington Hospital, will conduct a Health & Wellness seminar titled "How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off" on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson M.D. Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Ave. The class will offer tips on how to keep off those "hard lost" pounds and, then, how to jump-start more weight loss.
Get out of the exercise rut

One way to maintain the weight you've lost or start losing more pounds is to change the type of exercise you do. For instance, shift from walking or jogging on a treadmill to riding a bike or cycling on a stationary cycle. By changing the muscle groups you use, you can boost your metabolism a bit. This will burn more calories.
Adding more strength/muscle training to your daily exercise habit can have the same effect. Try doing a little less cardiovascular exercise, alternating days with strength training, using free weights for example.
"Using and exercising muscle groups helps maintain metabolic rate longer through the day," reports Dr. Bodnar. "The increased muscle mass developed as a result of exercising muscle groups raises your resting metabolic rate."
Diversify your diet

"Losing weight and maintaining lost weight successfully means making permanent changes to your eating habits," adds Mazzei. "As the pounds come off slowly, there will be a new 'you' who needs fewer calories to maintain your smaller mass."

To keep from eating excess portions, avoid extremes in appetite. Don't start eating a meal feeling starved or you may leave the table feeling stuffed. Therefore, smaller more frequent meals may help you avoid the extremes.
In general, to lose weight, women should eat between 1200 and 1400 calories a day. Men should eat between 1600 and 1800 calories a day. These calories should be divided up among your various meals and snacks.

Be sure to eat a variety of foods. Optimally, there should be a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fats in each meal and snack to help you control your appetite, keep your blood sugar steady and feel satisfied.
Be good to yourself

In addition to a new exercise and eating routine, take better care of yourself. Get seven or eight hours of sleep each night, and take time everyday to reduce the stress in your life. Besides helping to control the hormones in your body that contribute to overeating and fat storage, you'll be more rested, relaxed and healthy.

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