Practical Goals for Weight Loss

5 Tips for Practical Weight Loss

group of women joggingWeight-loss scams, crazed fashion diets, and countless pills have promised fast and simple ways to lose weight. In reality, the true foundation for successfully losing weight is developing a realistic and healthy program that fits your body and lifestyle. Here are five simple tips that can help you create practical weight loss goals for yourself.

1.   Commit to Your New Lifestyle

In order for you to successfully lose weight, you must be willing to devote your time as well as your effort. Changing your daily habits and sticking to a set plan takes a significant amount of energy, so make sure you are willing to commit yourself. Once you feel prepared and motivated, choose a date to start your program, and then begin!

2.   Establish Realistic Goals

One of the most important parts of dieting is to create attainable goals. First, determine a realistic target weight that you want to reach. “Most clinicians would say goals of losing five to 10 percent [of your start weight] are achievable,” according to Jennifer A. Linde, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Second, be sensible about the frame of time you have given yourself. “A realistic goal is losing 1 to 2 pounds a week to stay healthy,” says Linde. By planning to lose weight slowly and healthily, you will develop new lifestyle habits and be more likely to maintain them.

3.   Make Healthier Food Choices

Now that you have set realistic goals for yourself, you can begin your weight loss program. Start by evaluating your style of eating and determine what you can change. As you begin to alter your eating habits, keep in mind that you should lower your daily caloric intake, but still eat foods that you find satisfying. One tip is to increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and make sure to eat a hearty breakfast every morning.

4.   Get Active!

Along with eating right, exercising is another key component to weight loss. In order to effectively shed pounds, you must burn more calories than you consume. While it is possible to lose weight without physical activity, exercising can burn some calories that simply can’t be dissolved by dieting. The amount of calories burned through exercise depends on the intensity, frequency and duration of the physical activity. Try thinking of new ways to be active rather than just hitting the gym. Creativity counts!

5.   Stay Motivated

Losing weight can be a long process, but the most important thing is to stick with your new lifestyle. Find different ways to motivate yourself, whether it is through a supportive group of friends or an exciting reward at weight loss checkpoints. Staying positive is essential, and having compassion for yourself is key. Tell yourself you can, and will, obtain your weight loss goals and create a new lifestyle for yourself through hard work and perseverance.


A Complete Guide to Following your New Year’s Resolutions

From eating healthy to keeping an active lifestyle, the New Year's Resolutions you set for this upcoming year can pave the way to a healthier & better you.January 1st – a day that commemorates a brand new year and marks the beginning of a new set of New Year’s resolutions. From eating healthy to keeping an active lifestyle, the goals you set for this upcoming year can pave the way to a healthier and better you. Oftentimes, the resolutions we set for ourselves are unrealistic and difficult to sustain, causing many of us to fall back to our old habits after a few days. But have no fear, we came up with a few tips that can help you not only set obtainable goals, but also uphold and maintain them long-term.

1. Set specific goals.
Perhaps the most common mistake that we make while writing our New Year’s resolutions is that we typically make them too broad and not measurable. We vow to “eat healthy,” “stop eating fast food,” and my personal favorite, “exercise every day.” Although these are great objectives, they aren’t exactly quantifiable or specific. Instead, you can commit to eating at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, limiting fast food to once or twice a week, and including 20-30 minutes of physical activity 5 days per week. These goals are much more specific and calculable, making it more likely that you’ll actually follow them.

2. Focus on one goal at a time.
It is unrealistic to expect that overnight, you will adopt healthy eating habits and start exercising. Healthy habits that are sustainable typically develop over time, little by little; with every health-promoting decision you make, your conviction becomes stronger, allowing your next decision to become easier. Ultimately, this will result in the permanent adoption of healthy habits. Therefore, focusing on one goal at a time can help you maintain these resolutions on a long-term basis so that they start becoming part of your routine.

3. Always be prepared.
A wise man once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” This quote can be applied to perhaps any situation, from planning your meals to planning your days, workouts, and so on. If your goal is to limit fast food, make sure that you prepare your meals ahead of time and pack them in containers to take to work or school. You can even make a big batch of a recipe so that you have meals prepared for the rest of the week. If you know that you get hungry around midday and are typically away from home at that time, be sure to have plenty of healthy snacks, such as nuts and fresh fruit, on hand. Lastly, if your goal is to take a 30-minute walk around the block every day, lay out your workout clothes ahead of time so you have no excuses to get out and get moving.

While writing your New Year’s resolutions, remember that it’s not the end of the world if you have setbacks. Welcome each challenge you encounter with open arms, and have a plan in mind to overcome it. Ultimately, the key to keeping your New Year’s resolutions lies in upholding your goals and objectives with every health-forwarding decision you make and every health-forwarding action you take.

If your resolutions include improving your health and weight loss, let Emory Bariatric Center help you. We offer both surgical and non-surgical weight loss programs. View our website www.emoryhealthcare.org/bariatrics for program options or call 404-778-7777 for more information.

Choose My Plate – A Better Guide to Eating Well

Does the original, triangular food guide pyramid confuse you? Do you find its design to be archaic and unhelpful in maintaining a healthy diet? If so, you’re in luck! This past June, the United States Department of Agriculture along with Michelle Obama, created a new nutritional guide. They abandoned the outdated pyramid model, and introduced the modernized, circular “MyPlate”. In hopes of further combating obesity, Mrs. Obama stated that the MyPlate is a “quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating”.

The MyPlate design is significantly different than those of past food guides. Split into four sections, the MyPlate provides a space for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. At the top corner of the plate sits a smaller circle, providing a space for dairy products. The concept is simply this: If a plate of food resembles the circular MyPlate symbol, then it is a healthy, acceptable meal.

According to officials, the plan to introduce and explain the new dietary guidelines to consumers will involve numerous campaigns. The first half of the campaign will push consumers to consume “half-a-plate size” portions of fruits and vegetables, and to enjoy their meals but eat less. As time progresses, officials will slowly begin to educate people about the negatives of oversized portions, and the importance of drinking water.

Only time will tell how consumers will receive the MyPlate campaign and the nutritional values that support it. With a refined model that is more straightforward and easy to understand, MyPlate will hopefully encourage people to think about the food they are eating, and improve their diet. While the new guidelines are not perfect, they are a significant improvement to the past two food pyramids. So next time you are struggling to find a healthy meal, think back to the new food chart, and make yourself a MyPlate.

Interested in learning more about MyPlate? Visit www.choosemyplate.gov for more information.


Emory University Hospital Midtown Receives Level 1 Reaccreditation for Bariatric Surgery

Congratulations to Emory University Hospital Midtown for being granted “Full Approval” Level 1 Reaccreditation by The American College of Surgeons Bariatric Surgery Center Network (ACS BSCN)

Accreditation from The ACS BSCN is given to facilities in the United States that have undergone an independent, voluntary, and rigorous peer evaluation in accordance with nationally recognized bariatric surgical standards. Bariatric surgery accreditation symbolizes institutional commitment and accountability for safe, high-quality surgical care, proven by performance and the measurement of outcomes.

ACS BSCN would like to “again, commend the staff at (Emory University Hospital Midtown) for providing high-quality care to your patients undergoing bariatric surgery.”


Eat Right with Color!

become a patientBy:  Laura Zenni and Larissa Myers, Emory Healthcare Dietetic Interns

When most people start a diet, elimination of certain foods is common. This can be a positive change (like eating less fried foods).  In addition to limiting certain food items, why not add healthy new foods as well? Eating a variety of colors will naturally incorporate many vitamins and minerals into your diet. Foods that have the most color and catch our eye are fruits and vegetables.

Aim for 2-4 fruit servings and 3-5 vegetable servings per day. This may seem like a large amount, but a serving of fruit or cooked vegetables is ½ cup and a serving of raw vegetables is 1 cup. Or, skip the measuring and try this simple trick: fill half your plate with fruits and/or vegetables at each meal.

Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, calcium and many more!  They can boost immune function, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Be sure to vary the color! Different colored fruits and vegetables have different health benefits. For instance, green produce promotes eye health while purple and blue fruits and vegetables help heal wounds and cuts and fight infections. Also, did you know that fruits and vegetables are also an excellent source of fiber? Fiber keeps our digestive system healthy and also fills us up so we are more satisfied at meals.

In summary, eating right involves not only eliminating, but incorporating new and healthy foods into your eating plan. Add color, through fruits and vegetables, to your meals and snacks for a healthier you!

Sleep Away the Pounds – More Rest May Equal Less You

Sleep and weight control have often been linked, but a new study lead by Ann E. Rogers, PhD, RN, FAAN of Emory’s Woodruff School of Nursing looks to further investigate how sleep not only affects your weight loss, but your  blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels.  The study is looking at people who sleep six hours a night and how an increase of just 60-90 minutes of sleep may improve their health and reduce their weight.  According to Dr. Rogers, not getting enough sleep changes your appetite-regulating hormones so that you crave high fat and high calorie foods.

Whatever the outcomes of the study, the connection between more sleep and weight loss is strong and is probably one of the healthiest and safest ways to reduce your weight.  So make yourself a cup of herbal tea and tuck in early tonight.  Your scale will thank you in the morning.

Think you may have a sleep disorder?  Visit the Emory Sleep Disorders Center website to schedule a sleep study.

Smart Weight Loss using your Smartphone: Stay on track in 2011!

It’s a new year and a new beginning!  You may have made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, eat healthier and exercise more.  These are great goals, but even the most motivated person can lose steam and fizzle out by mid-February.  To stay on track for the rest of the year, try keeping a food and exercise log.  Tracking your food makes you more accountable for what you eat.  “Is this cookie worth getting out my food log and recording it?”  Maybe not!  Tracking also makes you realize just how many calories there are in that meal at your favorite restaurant.  When it comes to weight loss, knowledge is power!

Seeing your progress logged into a program is a constant reminder of what you have accomplished and gives you the motivation to keep going.  You can keep a written log of course, but websites and Smartphone applications make it easier and enjoyable.  Since you are always working on your Smartphone, why not make it work for you?  Check out these (free!) apps and be on your way to a leaner 2011.  Don’t have a Smartphone?  No worries, many of the apps listed also have websites to log on your computer.

  • LoseIt! –  very easy to use, put in a weight goal and it determines how many calories you need each day to get to that goal.  Also has a great companion website.
  • SparkPeople Diet & Calorie Tracker – offers daily meal plans along with calorie tracker.  Also has a good companion website with nutrition and exercise articles and healthy recipes.
  • Calorie Counter by FatSecret – large food database, track your calories, log exercise to see calories burned and track your weight loss progress.
  • Daily Burn – use your iPhone to scan UPC codes of the foods you eat!  Offers training plans and graphs of your progress.
  • Meallogger – keep a photo food journal and send pictures of your meals to a nutrition professional for feedback and guidance.

‘Tis the season for overeating: Make your holidays bright & light!

manage holiday weight gain

The holiday season, starting with Halloween and ending with New Year’s Day, is a time of food-filled festivities and can be a trying time for those managing their weight. According to a 2007 New York Times article, holiday weight gain is often over exaggerated, but in reality Americans put on an average of one pound during the holiday season. This may not seem like a lot, but if we don’t lose that one pound (or even realize that we put it on in the first place), they can really add up over a lifetime, quickly becoming an extra ten, fifteen, or twenty pounds!

Here’s a bit of advice that will help you manage your weight, while enjoying a stress-free season:

1.     Be realistic. Losing weight during the holidays may not be the most realistic goal. Instead, make it your goal to maintain your weight.  Pick up those weight loss efforts again in the new year.

2.     Make it a holiday. Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. are just a few days out of 365.  Allow yourself to enjoy those days, but don’t turn the holiday into a holiweek or holimonth.

3.     Don’t deprive yourself. Try this at your next party or gathering: before you take a plate and start filling it up with food, survey the spread of options and ask yourself what foods you must have and put them on your plate.  The foods that you can do without; leave them off your plate.  This way, you are not depriving yourself of your favorite foods, which often leads to overeating, while at the same time saving calories on the foods that you didn’t really want anyway.

4.     Don’t hibernate. Just because there’s a chill in the air doesn’t mean you need to stay indoors! Start a new holiday tradition of walking after your big meal, playing a game of flag football, going to a holiday concert or volunteering at a shelter or soup kitchen. Not all holiday traditions have to be food related.

5.     Remember the reason for the season. The holidays aren’t just about eating lots of great food; we get together with family and friends to celebrate!  Focus on the social aspect of the holidays instead of the food-centered traditions.

Happy Holidays from the Emory Bariatric Center!

Author:  Meagan Mohammadione, RD, LD

Eat healthy and slash your grocery bill

by: Julie Schwartz, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, ACSM-HFS

There is a common misperception that healthy eating is expensive. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I proved the point recently when CNN asked me to go grocery shopping with Shavalerie Thurman, mother of two teen-aged sons. Here are some of the tips I shared with Shavalerie that will work for you and your family, too:

  • Cook from scratch. Preparing simple meals from scratch or with limited prepared ingredients is a great way to stretch your budget and eat more nutritiously. For example, you can save .30 cents per pound when you make your own burgers versus buying the preformed patties. This also allows you to select the type of meat you want to use – don’t be afraid to try ground chicken breast or turkey breast for a low fat alternative to ground beef.
  • Stock up on fruits and vegetables. Not only are fruits and veggies good for your body but they are also good for your wallet. A complete daily allowance of fruits and vegetables costs on average just $2.50 per person. Choose fruits and vegetables that are locally in season for more savings and more delicious flavor. And, be sure to load up on the brightly colored fruits and vegetables; color is often nature’s way of showing us food with high concentrations of the vitamins and minerals we need.
  • Choose protein carefully. Protein is often the most expensive portion of the meal. Protein doesn’t always have to come in the form of a chicken breast or meatloaf. Think outside the pork chop and consider other sources of protein including eggs, beans, cheese, and soy. These are excellent sources of protein that can be prepared in multiple ways to please your family and often cost a fraction of meat products. Also, think about the amount of protein you need to serve at every meal. Most Americans consume more protein than is necessary, so consider reducing the amount of protein at some meals and replacing it with whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Go for fresh, when possible. Instead of frozen french fries purchase fresh red or white potatoes, slice them, add some seasoning and bake for 30 minutes. Even making salad from scratch vs. opening a bag can save you money and only takes a few extra minutes of time.

Incorporate these tips into your next trip to the grocery store and see how you can eat healthy while reducing your grocery bill.

For more great tips, watch this Recipes for Wellness cooking segment. In this video, Emory bariatric surgeon Jahnavi Srinivasan, M.D. helps prepare super simple No-Bake Fruit and Nut Bars. These easy-to-make bars can be combined with milk and fruit for a quick breakfast or by themselves as an afternoon snack.

Five Tips for Analyzing Health Articles

By: Meagan Mohammadione, Janelle Eidson and Rachel Stroud

In society today, we are bombarded by nutrition messages from the health advertising industry guaranteeing quick fixes and instant results.  Advertisers are brilliant at selling  product(s) by promising the latest weight loss method, beautification technique, and “magic bullet” to effortlessly become exactly what they want you to be. With all this deception in the media, it is crucial to question the information you’re exposed to in each ad, magazine article, and commercial. Here are five tips to critically analyze the information you come across daily:

1.    Beware of: Claims that sound too good to be true

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is!  For example, diets that promise a 30 lb. weight loss in one month provide unrealistic expectations, and even if accomplished have unhealthy consequences.

2.    Beware of: “Bad foods” and “Good foods”

There are no bad foods and good foods, there are just healthy and less-healthy choices. All foods can be a part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.

3.    Beware of: Non-reputable sources

Check to see who is writing the article and if they are someone you can trust! Look for an “about us” section if online, or a “written by” or  “sponsored by” in print articles. Watch out for companies creating claims to sell their product. Also, be cautious of “reputable” sources commenting on a topic outside their expertise. Though they may be experts in their field, that does not always mean they can be trusted on topics outside their subject.

4.    Beware of: Articles that tell you to avoid whole food groups

Remember balance is the key to healthy living. Each food group provides essential nutrients for the body. Avoiding an entire food group may cause deficiencies of the nutrients unique to that group. For example, the Atkins diet. While this particular diet may have some short-term results, cutting out carbohydrates is not a healthy pattern for long-term changes.

5.    Beware of: “Fix all”/”Quick Fix” recommendations

Lifestyle changes are what keep us healthy for the long run. Quick fix methods are rarely long term changes.

For trustworthy diet/health/fitness recommendations, check out these websites:

National Institutes of Health: www.NIH.gov – The NIH works on “Turning Discovery into Health” and provides great health information on their website.  Check out the A to Z Health Topics to browse information related to your health and well-being.

Smart Nutrition 101: www.nutrition.gov – This government-run website offers comprehensive information on many food and nutrition topics.  Highlights include: Eating through Life Stages, Weight Management, Nutrition and Health Issues, Cooking and Meal Planning, and Dietary Supplements.

American Dietetic Association: www.eatright.org/public – The world’s largest organization of nutrition professionals offers a great public website that includes food safety tips, disease management and prevention information, and strategies for healthy weight loss.  Also, be sure to check out the Consumer Diet and Lifestyle Book Review section where nutrition experts take a critical look at popular diets, where they highlight the good, the bad and the downright dangerous.