Employee & Community Health

Make your weight-loss resolution stick

2/15/2018 by Dr. Luke Hafdahl

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As the earth completes another trip around the sun, most Americans are reflecting on last year's weight-loss resolutions that didn't work out as planned. But history doesn't need to repeat itself. Here are some tips to make 2018 the year your weight-loss resolutions stick!

Think small! Aim to lose about three to five pounds per month. Rapid weight loss is usually a sign that you're doing something that's going to be hard to keep up. Focus on small changes that you can sustain for the rest of your life. Remember: Small changes over a long period of time yield big results.

Rethink your drink. Calories are experts at sneaking into your diet without you even noticing, especially in beverages. Consider these simple substitutions. Diet instead of regular soda, skim milk instead of whole for your coffee, flavored-water instead of fruit juice, etc. 

Avoid portion pitfalls. Oversized portions derail the best weight-loss plans. Give these quick fixes a try: 

  • At restaurants, put half of your meal in a to-go box as soon as it comes to the table. 
  • At home, keep serving dishes away from the dining table to discourage seconds and thirds. 
  • With snacking, put your snack in a bowl or container, rather than sit and munch with the whole package at hand. 
  • Spoil your dinner! A healthy snack before dinner that leads to eating less at your meal is A-OK!

Ease into exercise. Exercise is key to weight loss, but if you're not doing much exercise to start, going from zero to 60 is a recipe to crash and burn. Start low and go slow. Start with 10 minutes of exercise per week. Add in 10 minutes every week and slowly build up to 30 minutes, five days a week. How do you know if you're exercising right? If you're breathing hard enough that it would be difficult to have a conversation with someone, then you're doing it right!

Put a dietician in your pocket. Have a smart phone or tablet device? Put it to work for you! Knowing which foods are good and bad is only part of the struggle. MyFitnessPal is a fantastic, free application that helps you set weight-loss goals and tracks your calories. 

Remember that your provider is there for you, so don't hesitate to ask them for guidance and encouragement. Make 2018 the year your weight-loss resolutions stick so you have many more healthy trips around the sun.

Dr. Luke Hafdahl is a senior associate consultant and assistant professor at Mayo Clinic Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine (PCIM). He has a particular interest in medical education.