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Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation: Weight loss tips for 2013

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Amy Heydlauff, executive director of the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation for this column.)

It is traditional to make a commitment to lose weight beginning in the New Year.

Some of us are compelled by a recent health scare or a long-standing need to shed some pounds, while others are reacting to an indulgent holiday season.

There is a good chance you’ve been contemplating weight loss for some time. If only you could find the perfect motivation, partner, enough time, a diet that isn’t tasteless or a form of exercise that isn’t too hard.

There is so much science about weight loss I hardly know where to begin.  But here are a few tips – some of which are just games we play with ourselves.  I hope one of them helps you.

  • Find your motivation.  Big event coming up this summer? Bad news about your blood sugar or cholesterol levels at a recent doctor’s appointment? Children or grandchildren you want to watch grow up? Painful knees, hips or back? Recovering from something that curtailed your usual exercise habits? Embarrassed by your girth? Want to get your spouse off your back? Clothes are uncomfortable? Whatever the motivation, it has to work for you. Just you.
  • ‘Practicing’ works. Before starting a weight loss program, spend 6-8 weeks working on simply maintaining your weight. Then begin weight loss efforts. You’re much more likely to keep the weight off because you’ve developed weight maintenance habits.
  • Find someone you trust with whom to share success and struggles. It could be as simple as a quick text message back and forth at the end of the day.
  • It is really true if you use smaller plates, bowls and glasses you will consume fewer calories. Our eyes send many signals to our brain – one of which is a heaping plate, regardless of the size of the plate, is a lot of food.
  • Exercise doesn’t all have to be scheduled, expensive and sweaty. Start with walking.  Whenever there is an opportunity, walk. Short or long distances. Of course, you’ll want access to comfortable shoes in your car, desk drawer, front door of your house or wherever you may encounter an opportunity to walk. By the way, people with dogs are much more likely to walk than those without. Take advantage of your dog if you have one. And, exercise is good for the dog, too.
  • Don’t let Michigan weather stop you. There are all kinds of traction gizmos you can buy to strap onto the bottom of boots and shoes that allow you to have excellent grip on slippery surfaces – check at any sports store. You can also get an old pair of ski poles and use them for balance.
  • Many fitness facilities have promotions in the form of reduced rates, waived enrollment fees or other discounts that begin in January (including the Chelsea, Manchester and Stockbridge Wellness Centers – call 734-214-0220 for more information).
  • Some find it easier to start with exercise and add dietary changes later. Others start with diet and then move to exercise. Some prefer to do both at once. Find your own balance.
  • Think about what you’re drinking. Many coffee, energy, sports and alcohol drinks are full of calories.

If you are in poor health, require a special diet, have joints that hurt too much or you don’t know how to begin there are experts all around us.

Begin with your doctor or a fitness specialist at one of the Wellness Centers. If even walking hurts and you’re medically able to take anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen, for instance), take it 30 minutes before exercise to avoid increased discomfort. Check out the Shape Up America and the American Heart Association’s website for ideas on eating and exercise. There are plenty of other resources online. Even Oprah’s website has information for healthy living that includes things like 6 tips for people who hate to exercise. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and website for ideas and tips.

You’ve probably read our suggestion to never quit quitting if you’re a smoker. The same is true of reasonable weight loss. Never quit trying. Cheer yourself if you hold your own and don’t get heavier. Self-congratulate even the smallest gains – something as simple as going to bed one evening without having a snack after dinner or parking one block away from work twice this week.

And don’t give up. As with smoking, sometimes it takes years or even decades to accomplish our most important goals. But, it will be worth it.

Happy, Healthy New Year, everyone.


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