Living Well

8 Steps to a Healthier You

Liz Cabrera, RD, CSO, LDN, CNSC
8 Steps to a Healthier You

Weight Loss in 2016

If weight loss or maintenance is a goal of yours for 2016, the tips below are designed to help you set achievable goals you can stick with. Set yourself up for success by establishing realistic weight loss goals. This will keep you focused and motivated. Overly aggressive goals often end up hindering your weight loss efforts in the long run.

Body Mass Index: Body mass index (BMI) is one way to tell whether you are at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese.

BMI is an estimate of body fat and a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

To calculate your BMI, divide your total weight (pounds) by height (inches) and multiply it by 703.

(weight in pounds / height in inches2 ) × 703

What does your BMI mean?

  • BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 = healthy
  • BMI of 25 to 29.9 = overweight
  • BMI of 30 to 39.9 = obese
  • BMI of ≥40 = morbid obesity Waist Circumference You are at risk if your waist circumference is >40″ (for males) and >35″ (for female).
  • A high waist circumference may indicate health risk even better than BMI. Measuring waist circumference helps screen for possible health risks that come with overweight and obesity. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

How to achieve a healthy weight: Make realistic weight-loss goals. Aim for a slow, modest weight loss of 1-2 pounds (lb)/week.

Losing just 10% of excess body weight can have positive effects on your health.

8 Steps to a Healthier You:

The following suggestions can help you improve your health and well-being and determine what changes you should make.

  1. Move it and lose it – Begin your exercise program slowly. Gradually increase the intensity. Choose what you like to do, but aim for daily aerobic activity. Include some weights and stretching. You do not need to focus on a planned workout. Maybe your goal is as simple as increasing the amount of steps you take. Count your steps using a pedometer. Increase your step average as a weekly goal. It is recommended that you aim for 10,000 steps (5 miles)/day. A good goal is to stay physically active for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week. Click here for tips to prepare for your best year of fitness.
  2. “Break the fast” and do not skip meals – Studies show that people who skip breakfast and eat fewer times during the day usually are heavier than people who eat a healthy breakfast and three meals/day. This is possibly because people who skip meals tend to feel hungrier later on and eat more than they normally would. Eating many small meals throughout the day also may help people control their appetites.
  3. Eat mostly whole foods that are plant based – Eat a colorful mix of vegetables and fruits each dayVegetables and fruits of different colors are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which help to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Fruits and vegetables also are good sources of fiber. Aim for at least 2 cups (C) of fruit and 2½ C of vegetables daily. Vegetables are much lower in calories than fruit, and they contain a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and helpful phytochemicals. It is best to choose more vegetables than fruit.
  4. Know that when it comes to meat, smaller is better – Use the palm of your hand as a guide to determine the serving size for meats. Fill one-half of your plate with vegetables, leaving one-fourth of the plate for protein foods and one-fourth of the plate for starchy foods, such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, corn, peas, and mashed potatoes. Get more of your protein from vegetable sources, which provide less fat, no cholesterol, and fiber. Beans, lentils, peanuts, and soy are some excellent choices.
  5. Fill up on fiber – Eating more fiber may help lower calorie intake, and it promotes good intestinal health. Aim for 25-30 grams (g) of fiber/day. Good sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Look at food labels and choose products that have at least 5 g of fiber/serving. Add one high-fiber food/week. When adding fiber, it is important to drink plenty of water.
  6. Do not drink your calories – Eliminate high-calorie drinks, such as fruit juices, sodas, energy drinks, blended coffee drinks, and sports drinks. Switch to water, low-fat milk, seltzer water, tea, and coffee without the extras.
  7. Cut back on screen time – Limit time spent watching television, playing video games, and using your computer for recreational purposes to less than 2 hours/day or less than 10 hours/week.
  8. Sleep right – Get 7-10 hours of sleep/day. Any more or less can lead to weight gain.

 Life is a journey that must be taken one step at a time. Happy New Year!

 Cabrera, LizLiz Cabrera, RD, CSO, LDN, CNSC, is the Lead Clinical Dietician for Touro Infirmary with over 25 years experience. Liz has advanced education and extensive experience in nutrition for a broad range of health conditions for which she provides nutrition support. Liz provides comprehensive nutrition care for inpatient and outpatient departments at Touro. In addition, Liz leads monthly healthy lifestyles community seminars and a nutrition after cancer cooking class.