Losing Weight and Keeping it Off For Heart Health

Losing weight—and keeping it off—can be hard. For many, losing weight can feel like a hamster wheel of tries and fails. Or, quite possibly a wheel of tries, successes for a period of time, and more fails again. Achieving a certain weight-loss goal or a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be a matter of trying and failing, however; it is a process that ebbs and flows with victories, mistakes and recommitting to to the goal at hand.

In my previous post about keeping New Year’s resolutions, I quoted a study that said, “The most successful resolvers had slip-ups in January, but instead of viewing the slip-up as a complete fail, those individuals recommitted themselves to the resolution after the slip.”

February is Heart Health Month. According to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, “losing even a little weight can greatly improve heart and vascular health, boost heart function, lower blood pressure and improve metabolism.”

Here are six steps to help you achieve those goals:

1.) Set realistic and achievable goals. This will help you celebrate successes in smaller bites and not set yourself up for failure. According to Heart.org, “Set yourself up for success with short-term goals, like ‘I will make lifestyle changes which will help me lose (and keep off) 3-5% of my body weight.’ Short-term goals can seem more achievable and keep you on track toward your long-term goals.”

2.) Learn to understand your patterns with eating. Understanding triggers, thoughts, and emotional ties with food can help you be real about your goals and how to achieve them.

3.) Watch those portions! Making steps towards your goal can be as easy as tracking how much food you are actually consuming. Then, applying recommendations for portion sizes—such as eating 4oz of meat per serving— can help you reach your goals faster. Read Heart.org’s guide to help you understand the difference between portion and serving sizes.

4.) Make smarter choices. You don’t have to give up all of the foods you like, but simple substitutions can help you achieve your goals, and stay fuller longer.

5.) Exercise: Create a deficit of 250-500 calories per day via diet and exercise. Beware that creating a larger deficit than the recommendation, however; can lead to the body going into starvation mode, a slower metabolism and lethargy. Create the deficit by making smart choices.

6.) Don’t give up after one fail or misstep. Get back up and realign with your goals!

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