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Weight loss 101

Weight Loss Tips | UPMC Health Plan

So you want to reach a healthy weight. For many of us, that means losing a few (or more than a few) pounds. Trying to figure out the safest way to get started? Looking for a few tips to stay motivated? We can help. Check out these weight loss tips for success:

  1. Stop looking for shortcuts. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going, weight loss included. Soup diets, pills, carb cutting, and other fad diets are a great way to wreak havoc on your metabolism. Besides, many of these are hard to sustain long term. Before starting a weight loss program, ask yourself if you can do it forever. If not, find another way.
  2. Call a coach! If you are UPMC Health Plan member, you have access to a coach for FREE! These experts in weight loss, nutrition, physical activity, stress, and tobacco cessation can work with you to set realistic goals and get started on a program that helps you meet them.
  3. Eat real foods. Aim to eat a diet rich in whole foods and eliminate added sugars and refined grains. Focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nonfat dairy, and whole grains. Skip the sugary drinks and treats.
  4. Keep a food journal. It’s easier than ever to be successful with tracking thanks to online programs and apps for your phone. Recording everything you eat will help you hold yourself more accountable for what’s going into your mouth each day. You may also learn that a few of your daily staples are loaded with calories or fat.
  5. Eat breakfast every day. Many people believe that cutting breakfast lets them reduce calories, but that’s not true. Eating a well-balanced breakfast can help reduce the likelihood that you will overeat later in the day.
  6. Sleep more. When you are tired, it can be more challenging to manage your weight for many reasons. You may consume more caffeine than usual, skip your daily exercise, and resort to a grab-and-go lunch or dinner because of lack of time to prepare. Sleep also influences your hormones, which can affect weight loss and gain.
  7. De-stress. Lowering your stress levels can have many positive effects on your health, from reduced blood pressure to preventing burnout. But it also can help with managing your weight. In the short term, people who are stressed may be more likely to indulge in those high-sugar and -fat foods that make weight loss difficult. In the long term, chronic stress can slow metabolism and cause other health problems.
  8. Be prepared for a setback (or two). Make sure to have a plan to get back on track if you start to slip. Look back to reasons why you started in the first place and it can encourage you to keep moving forward. Don’t wait until next week to “start over” — start over as soon as the moment after a slip occurs.
  9. Stand up to reduce sitting time. Finding ways to cut sitting time can add minutes of activity to your day, easily. Counting your sitting time as well as your active time can help you make better choices to lower your risk for health problems and keep the entire family healthy!
  10. Make a shopping list before going to the store. Believe it or not, you’re more likely to make poor grocery decisions when you shop on an empty stomach. This means you may bring foods into your house that can tempt you later. Since a healthy environment is key to long-term success, have a plan and keep the “bad” foods out of the house.
  11. Diversify your workouts. It’s important to make sure that you are including strength training and cardiovascular training in your fitness routine. And it’s just as important to incorporate activities you enjoy! You are more likely to go kick-boxing than running if you really dread running.
  12. Plan social gatherings ahead of time. Food is part of most social events, so it’s good to be ahead of the game when attending. If you are going to a party or restaurant, make sure that you already have in mind how many drinks and which foods to order or try. If there is a menu available, be sure to look ahead to avoid getting trapped into high-calorie and high-fat options.
  13. Have a snack attack! Snacks are a staple in my day, every day. Packing small meals you can eat on the go is important if you are traveling or moving from meeting to meeting throughout the day. If you are starving and have a snack available, you are less likely to grab a candy bar out of a vending machine. My favorite snacks are hard boiled eggs, rice cakes, almonds, and protein bars.
  14. Drink up. Water, that is. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger, so it’s important to make sure you are getting enough fluids throughout the day. You know you are drinking enough water if you have lemonade colored pee.
  15. Meal plan. Planning your meals ahead of time can really help prevent being derailed when the week gets busy. If you plan meals ahead of time and have them ready to prepare, you are less likely to stop for takeout or fast food on the way home after a stressful day.
  16. If you watch TV, make it active. Watching your favorite shows doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your healthy lifestyle! You can make it a game where on commercial breaks you add in activity or you can do another fitness routine during the breaks. It all adds up!

Losing weight is a long-term investment, and there aren’t any shortcuts for long term success. Take your time and be patient. Remember that you are creating a lifestyle that’s sustainable and isn’t restrictive. Believe it or not, it does get easier over time! If you’re looking to reach a healthier weight ask your doctor about a prescription for wellness, or call 1-855-395-8762 to speak directly to a health coach to get started.