Health, Nutrition

Weight Management (Part 1)

Debra Hollon, MS, RD, CDE, LDN
Senior Clinical NutritionistPear and tape measure. Photo credit: Asha ten Broeke

Now that we’re more that three months into the year, how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?  If you’re still sticking with it, good for you!  It takes a lot of commitment to keep up a major lifestyle change.  For many people, maintaining a healthy weight is a key part of their Diabetes management plan.  If you’re having a hard time reaching your weight loss goals, don’t give up.  You may just need to rethink your strategy.    

Weight loss is all about balancing calories—how many calories you consume vs. how many calories you burn.  One of your first steps is figuring out how many calories you need to consume a day in order to lose weight.  Your health care provider or a nutritionist can help you figure this out, but you can estimate your ideal calorie intake by multiplying your weight by 10 (again, this is only an estimate—you should still contact your health care provider for more tailored guidelines).  Your next step is paying attention to how many calories there are in the food you eat and watching your portion size.

I often suggest people think of their daily calorie intake as a budget.  You can “spend” those calories on whatever you like (ideally produce, whole grains and lean protein sources), but stop and think is it going to be worth it?  Keeping a food diary of everything you eat can be helpful for staying on top of your calorie intake.  Oftentimes people find they eat less simply by writing down what they ate every day.  Plus, it keeps you accountable.  There are a number of great programs out there now that can help you track your calories for free.  Lose It!, My Fitness Pal, and Fit Day are good choices. 

Remember, the scale is only one way to measure success at your weight loss efforts.  I once had someone suggest using the “pant-o-meter”, which is simply being aware of how well your clothes fit; as you lose weight, they’ll start to feel looser.  Other markers for success are better blood sugar control, lower blood pressure readings and lower cholesterol levels.  Next time, we’ll talk more about what makes up a healthy diet.  If you have any questions, leave us a comment below.

(Photo credit: Asha ten Broeke)


Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? If you did, you’re in good company; about half of us see the New Year as an opportunity to make changes in our lives and our health. Some of the most popular resolutions each year include losing weight, quitting smoking and exercising. Yet despite the best intentions, just under half of the people who make a New Year’s resolution keep them at least six months. In light of that discouraging statistic, it may seem like New Year’s resolutions as a rule are doomed to failure. But that doesn’t have to be the case; with a little planning it is possible to create a New Year’s resolution and stick with it.

First, be specific about what your goals are and how you will achieve them. One reason resolutions fail is they’re simply too vague. Like many of the other goals you set for yourself (because that’s what a resolution is really, a new lifestyle goal) it can be difficult to maintain commitment if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. So for instance if your goal for the New Year is to check your blood sugar more often, you can make this more specific by saying how many times a day you will check.

Along the same lines, make sure your resolution is realistic—just as vague resolutions are difficult to maintain, so too are ones that are overly ambitious. It can be tempting to try to make big changes, but if you try to take on too much too fast you may find it hard to keep up. Instead, see if there are any places where you can make small changes in your daily routine—such as taking the stairs rather than the elevator or including a serving of vegetables with your dinner. These small changes can add up to big ones over time. Be patient, and remember to reward yourself for sticking with it.

One last tip: apply the concept of SMART goals to creating your resolution. Choose one that is specific and easy to track progress, requires your active engagement, stays within your ability to achieve, and has a specific time frame for accomplishment.

(Information reviewed by MGH Diabetes Center)