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Weight loss basics- tips to keep you on track

16MKT0078 postImage - Weight Loss Basics

It has been about two months since we made those New Year’s resolutions. As we settle into the new year and routines, it can be difficult to stay dedicated to losing weight. When it comes to staying motivated and continuing to lose weight, stick to the basics.

It can be easy to “buy in” to all the fad diets or programs that require a lot of money or include lots of restrictions. Remember, there are no shortcuts! It’s important to focus on energy balance, physical activity, and problem solving when losing weight.

Here are some reminder strategies:

Create a calorie deficit

When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to consume less calories than we use. We are using calories throughout the day for our organs to work, blood to pump, etc. It’s important to replenish those calories with whole foods and record daily calorie totals in order to create a deficit.

Track calories and fat grams.

Apps like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt! are great tools for tracking calorie amounts and fat grams. Make sure to include all food choices and pay attention to serving size on the nutrition fact label. Calories and fat grams will depend on how much of a food you consume.

Get moving.

Physical activity is an important component of weight loss, but it is very difficult to “out run” calories from high-calorie, high-fat eating. For instance, running 1 mile burns about 100 calories (depending on weight, gender, etc.).

Physical activity is the best predictor of managing a healthy weight long-term, but it’s important to stick to calorie goals without “adding” calories back in for physical activity. Getting 150 minutes of physical activity per week helps reduce the risk for chronic conditions and improves quality of life.

Plan healthy meals and snacks

In addition to recording our food choices, planning and preparation are important components to help stay on track during the day. It’s easy to get off track during a stressful day or a busy schedule. Planning healthy snacks and meals makes food choices one less
 “hassle.” Use ChooseMyPlate for helpful information regarding a balanced diet. For meals, try to recreate the ChooseMyPlate diagram. Make half of your plate fruits or vegetables, one quarter lean protein, and one quarter whole grains. When planning snacks, think about each food group to have on hand. It is best to get our calories from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. Websites like and the American Heart Association provide helpful recipes and snack options for creative ideas. You can also download our free meal planning worksheet to organize choices, here.

Stay motivated.

It can be difficult to stay on track with planning and physical activity from week to week. Keep in mind, your progress and food choice does not have to be perfect! Finding healthy substitutes for the foods you love and getting back on track immediately after a slip-up are some great ways to continue seeing results. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “I will just start again tomorrow, since I had a high calorie choice for lunch.” Instead, go for a quick walk at work or choose a lighter meal for dinner that night.


Managing weight is a long-term lifestyle change. It’s important to have a good support system, whether that be a friend, family member, partner, coworker, pet, etc. Having someone in your corner can be a great tool for problem solving and staying motivated to reach your goals. In addition, think of some non-food rewards, like a magazine, downloading a new song, etc., to look forward to after meeting your food tracking or physical activity goals.

Managing weight is a lifestyle change that can alleviate health conditions and improve quality of life. When it comes to losing weight, remember, there are no shortcuts. Go back to the basics with managing food choices, staying creative, tracking progress, and preparing for slips.

Health Coaches are available if you are a UPMC Health Plan member. Give us a call at 1-855-395-8762 to help set realistic goals and stay on track with our structured lifestyle programs. Text message reminders are also available and provide healthy tips to help keep you motivated to stay on track. Text the keyword “lose” to 876247 for daily or weekly tips.