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Imborek: Eight steps to weight management

BY GUEST COLUMN | JANUARY 21, 2013 6:30 AM

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 54 percent of Iowans will be obese by 2030. Don’t allow yourself to become just another statistic. Finding and maintaining your healthy weight should be a lifestyle, not just a diet. These tips can help you fight obesity and manage your weight in a healthy way.

Exercise daily. Striving to be healthy doesn’t mean you need to spend hours at the local gym. Get your daily exercise in by starting small and working your way up. Start with a five-minute walk every day. From there, make it your goal to exercise a little longer or faster each day. Once you shed those unwanted pounds, exercise becomes even more important. Maintaining your exercise routine will prevent you from regaining the weight you’ve lost.

Sleep on it. Sleep is critical to weight loss. Studies indicate that individuals who sleep at least seven hours a night tend to have less body fat than those who sleep fewer than seven hours a night. Sleep hormonally recharges you for the next day. Sleep less and the following day you will find yourself with additional food cravings, a slower metabolism, and a lower mood.

Listen to your hunger. Two feelings make us eat: hunger and cravings. Hunger is a growling rumble in your stomach. If you are getting hungry, try decreasing starch while increasing protein and healthy fat. Cravings are in your mouth and are often for salty or sweet snacks. Cravings are from lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and stress. To relieve stress, think of something that makes you smile. Determine what your stress relievers are, but make sure they are not food.

Eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and what you choose to eat for breakfast makes a big difference in your health. Choosing slow-burning foods, such as whole grains and fruits, can help you control your appetite until midday. So many of us find ourselves rushing out the door for work every morning late because we thought 10 more minutes of sleep were more important than breakfast. Don’t let this be you. Stock your pantry with healthful ingredients, and plan your breakfasts for the week ahead over the weekend.  

Share your feelings. Depression and pain are two feelings that not only cause obesity, but they can also block weight loss. If you are depressed or in pain, don’t be afraid to speak to your doctors about these feelings.  

Read the food labels. Counting calories alone might not get you to your ideal weight, but it is one of the most important steps in losing weight. Try following this simple rule that if you don’t know how many calories are in a particular meal: Don’t eat it. As a rough guide, smaller individuals should restrict their diets to 1,200 kcal/d, average to 1,500 kcal/d, and larger individuals to 1,800 kcal/d. Speak with your doctor before drastically altering your diet. Your health-care team can also discuss with you the proper nutrition needed at any stage in life.

Begin a food diary. After every meal or snack, record the number of calories you have consumed in a notebook. Keeping a detailed record of your daily calories consumed can help you stay on track with your weight loss. If something is not working, refer back to your diet, and look at what you ate. There are many apps and websites that can do this digitally for you; try Lose-It or MyFitnessPal.

Inspire yourself. Motivation is the key to lifestyle change. Today begins a new you. The three strongest motivators are feedback, desire, and belief. Write down the desires you have that your weight is preventing you from accomplishing. You must believe you can achieve your desires.

Katie Imborek, M.D.
UI Health Care


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