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Weight loss takes time and dedication

February 23, 2012

By OSU Extension Services

It seems we live in a time where everything is nearly instantaneous. Renting a movie does not require a trip to the video store. It simply takes a couple of key strokes on your computer. Messages can be sent to friends and family in just a few seconds via email.

There are some things, however, that do take time in order to be successful said Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist.

“Despite numerous fad diets that promise quick results, a healthy diet combined with physical activity is still the foundation to long-term weight loss success,” Hermann said. “Keeping weight off permanently requires not only a change in eating habits, but an overall lifestyle change. Losing weight and keeping it off takes time, focus and a lifelong commitment.”

A person must lose weight for the right reason. A person should not try to lose weight because of external pressures. It must come from within and it must be done to please yourself, not others.

Losing weight takes a lot of mental and physical energy to change old habits, so if there are other issues in your life, it is best to address and try to resolve them.

“Although you are responsible for your own behavior, it’s important to seek support as you make this weight loss journey,” she said. “Surround yourself with people you know who want only the best for you and who will encourage you along the way.”

Hermann said it also is important for a person to set realistic weight loss goals. Healthy weight loss occurs slowly and steadily. Aim to lose one-half pound to 2 pounds per week.

“In order to lose up to 1 pound per week you must burn 3,500 calories more than your body needs, or about 500 calories per day,” she said. “Individuals who lose weight at a more rapid pace are losing water weight and muscle tissue, in addition to fat.”

Adopting a new eating style that promotes weight loss includes lowering your total caloric intake. Some people may think they have to give up good taste or make complicated meals to meet their new calorie needs. However, adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet can provide you with satisfaction and flavor at the same time.

Very low calorie diets are not healthy for the long term. Diets containing fewer than 1,200 calories for women and 1,400 calories for men are not recommended because you run the risk of not getting all of the nutrients needed for good health.

“Keep in mind that while dieting alone can help you lose weight, adding 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity per day can help with your weight loss,” Hermann said. “The goal of physical activity for weight loss is to burn more calories. How many calories you burn depends on the frequency, duration and intensity of your activities. Steady aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to lose body fat. Be sure to check with your physician before starting a physical activity program.”

If your physician approves increasing your physical activity it’s best to start slowly and spread your physical activity throughout the day. For example, start with four or five, five- to 10-minute brisk walks and slowly increase your time at each session.

When some people envision physical activity they see various exercise machines, gym memberships or jogging. However, physical activity is anything that increases your energy expenditure throughout the day. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away from the office building or store are just a couple of ways to easily incorporate additional physical activity.

“Remember that eating healthy food and participating in physical activity for a few weeks or even months won’t get you to your goal and maintain it. These new behaviors must be incorporated into your everyday life,” she said. “You’re likely to have setbacks, but don’t give up. Start fresh the next day. A new you won’t happen overnight, but the results will be worth it.”

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