While helping people get control of their weight for almost 4 decades, one thing I know for sure is that ‘one size does not fit all.’
I spend a lot of time talking to my patients to help them figure out the best mix of weight management strategies that fit their life and lifestyle habits.
If losing weight is on your to-do list as we approach the start of a new year, here are some tips I hope you find helpful:
1 – Know Your ‘Why’
It’s important to ask yourself why you want to lose weight. Some examples may be to improve your health, get off of medications, look better and feel better or be able to keep up with your children or grandchildren.
When the going gets tough, reminding yourself of your ‘why’ can help motivate you to stay on track.
I also recommend making a list of all the reasons you want to lose weight and and referring to it as ongoing affirmation.
Going through this process can help ensure that your ‘why’ remains stronger than your ‘why not’.
2 – Make a Plan to Improve Your Lifestyle Habits
Though your instincts may be to try the latest one-size-fits-all, quick-fix fad diet, know that losing weight and keeping it off is about much more than just the carbs and proteins in the foods on your plate.
Though what you eat is important, so are your lifestyle habits that relate to your eating patterns throughout the day, how active you are and how you manage stress and unpleasant emotions.
Helping individuals focus on the issues personal to them, their lifestyle habits and their weight struggles has been my life work.
I have developed a short quiz and program in my self-help book, Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You!, published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to help people target their personal habits and lifestyle struggles that have prevented them from achieving successful weight loss.
If you’re interested in learning more about your lifestyle habits that relate to your weight struggles, I encourage you take my scientifically-validated 5-minute Six Factor Quiz online here and get your personalized results.
Your quiz scores form the basis for making a personalized plan to improve your lifestyle habits and ultimately lose weight in a healthy way, as outlined in my book.
When undertaking a weight loss program that takes into account your current lifestyle habits, the goal is that the strategies you’re following will feel more natural and easier to sustain as they’ll be personally targeted to you and your life.
3 – Build Your Healthy Lifestyle Team
Improving your lifestyle habits should not be a secret mission.
Changing your mindset from “I have to do this by myself” to “Let’s do this together” can go a long way to moving you in the right direction toward weight loss and improved health.
Every day when counseling patients, I ask them about their support system that includes family members, friends, neighbors and work or school colleagues.
But this can also extend to people you share common goals with in other areas of life like your place of worship, volunteer organizations, workout facility, any hobby or class you take, or any social media group you’re tapped into.
Finding people in these groups who share some of your same values and healthy lifestyle goals can be incredibly helpful. Whether you share healthy recipes, discuss meditation apps you enjoy or do virtual exercise classes together, you don’t have to go it alone.
Weight management really is a team sport.
If you’re struggling with healthy meal planning, following an exercise program or managing stress and unpleasant emotions, you can get expert help to manage weight from health care professionals like registered dietitian nutritionists, personal fitness trainers and health psychologists – also important team members.
Here’s to enjoying your health now and into the new year!
Robert Kushner, MD