After an indulgent holiday period, you may be one of the many Americans considering setting some 2019 weight loss goals. Losing weight (and goals related to this) are among the most common resolutions for 2019, according to data from YouGov Omnibus. The poll found 48 percent of people planning to make New Year’s resolutions had weight loss as a goal, behind “saving money”, “exercising more”, and “eating healthier”.
Achieving a healthy weight has numerous benefits; it can boost your self-esteem and confidence, improve your mental health, give you more energy, and help you avoid the health problems associated with obesity. More than one-third of adults in the United States are obese, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which increases their risk for a range of serious medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to start a weight management plan, whether you want to avoid health problems in the future, lose belly fat, or simply feel fitter and happier, we can help put you on the right road to achieving a healthy weight…
1. Take it slow and be realistic with your weight loss goals
Setting targets is a sensible way to start your 2019 weight loss journey but make sure you are realistic in your expectations. A steady and measured approach will yield better long-term results and enable you to adjust to a healthier lifestyle, rather than simply following the latest fad diet or pushing yourself until you burn out or become disheartened trying to hit overly ambitious targets.
If you are unsure how to get started, consider consulting with a dietician or personal trainer. Professionals can help you set achievable goals and give you the tools and knowledge you need to achieve them. Remember, weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint; you may want to lose weight fast, but playing the long-game will give you better, more sustainable results.
2. Get moving!
Eating healthy food and watching your portions is a vital part of weight loss, but exercise will help boost your weight loss efforts and is great for your health, helping to lower blood pressure, burn fat, and build muscle. Exercise doesn’t have to involve tortuous hours in the gym, it can simply mean increasing your physical activity levels in day-to-day life, such as walking more or taking the stairs rather than the elevator.
However, if you do decide to set a more structured exercise plan, you’ll likely notice a significant improvement in your weight loss. Cardio workouts are a great way to burn calories and should be an integral part of any exercise for weight loss program. Try to find activities you enjoy as this will give you added motivation to stick to your exercise plan. If running just isn’t for you, try other options, such as spin classes, cycling, or swimming.
Working some strength training into your exercise routine, even just once a week, can also have an extremely positive effect on weight loss. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat, even when you aren’t working out, which is great for those working to lose weight. On top of this, building up your strength and muscle mass will aid you in your cardio workouts and can help you avoid injuries while exercising.
3. Technology is your friend!
Personal health technology has made great strides in recent years, making it far easier for you to manage, plan and analyze your weight loss efforts. Personal activity monitors help you collect useful data, such as your daily step count, the number of calories burned and your heart rate. Calorie counting apps can be added to your phone so you can easily track your calorie intake, allowing you to see which are the best foods and which are the biggest culprits in contributing to your weight gain.
If you do decide to track your calorie intake in 2019, try to be honest with yourself; if you have a large portion of ice cream as a treat (we’ve all done it!), log it in your calorie counter. Doing so can motivate you to adjust what you eat later in the day or push you to get in more exercise to burn off the excess calories. This can also improve your understanding about what it takes to burn off those indulgent fast food treats!
4. Drink plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to boost your weight loss. It can help suppress your appetite if consumed before your meal and it is completely calorie free! A study of overweight and obese middle-aged people conducted in 2009 found that participants who drank water before each meal had significantly better weight loss results than those who did not, achieving a 44 percent greater decline in weight over a three month period.
Replacing fizzy or sugary drinks with water is an easy way to cut some empty calories from your diet, allowing you to eat a greater amount of healthy food and still stay on course with your diet. Drinking water also helps boost your metabolism, prevents your body from retaining water (leading to added “water weight”), and helps cleanse your body of waste and toxins.
Furthermore, if you are exercising more as part of your weight loss program, you will need to hydrate more often to replace the water lost through sweat and to prevent certain side effects of an intense exercise session, such as muscle cramps, fatigue and other symptoms of dehydration.
5. Get plenty of sleep
Your body needs sleep, but sleep is particularly important when you are trying to lose weight. People who are sleep deprived often struggle with weight loss and are more prone to being overweight in the first place. If you are tired, you may be more likely to reach for high-carbohydrate comfort food, more likely to snack late at night, and less likely to get enough exercise.
Sleep is also vital for your metabolism, so if you aren’t getting enough, it can hamper your weight loss efforts. If you struggle to sleep, try simple steps such as turning off all electronics and screens before bed, ensuring you have time to relax before bedtime (take a bath, read and unwind!), and try not to eat large meals or drink alcohol close to bedtime.
6. Avoid fad diets
Keto diets, paleo diets, low-carb diets, high-protein diets, the list of different diet plans is extensive and at times bewildering, particularly if this is your first foray into weight loss. It is extremely difficult to lose weight without adjusting what you eat, but you need to ensure that any dietary changes are healthy, safe and sustainable.
This isn’t to say that the diets listed above will not work, but while the latest popular diet may seem a great way to lose weight fast, it may come with unexpected side effects, be an unsustainable long-term option, or be unsuitable for you if you have certain health problems. Every person is different, so a diet plan that works for one person may not always be the most effective or healthiest option another.
Before making any significant changes to your diet, make sure you seek medical advice or speak to a qualified dietician or health professional, who can assess your health and help you pick the best diet plan for your weight loss program.
7. Review your medication
If you have any existing health problems or are on any medication, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider before adjusting your diet or starting a weight loss program. As well as providing useful advice and information on how to proceed, they can also help review your medication to see if you are taking anything that contributes to weight gain.
Common medications that can contribute to weight gain include: certain antidepressants, such as Zoloft (paroxetine); some antihistamines, such as Allegra (fexofenadine); certain antipsychotics, such as Seroquel (quetiapine); some corticosteroids, such as Deltasone (prednisone); and some hypertensives (beta blockers) used to manage high blood pressure, for example Lopressor (metoprolol). Other medications that may lead to weight gain include some forms of birth control, certain diabetes medication, and some anti-seizure and mood stabilizing medication.
You should NEVER stop taking medication or switch medication without consulting with your physician but if you are concerned about weight gain as a side effect of one of your medicines, your doctor may be able to suggest an alternative medication or help you manage the side effects.
8. Consider medication to help you lose weight
Prescription weight loss medications are not a quick fix and are always used alongside a proper diet and exercise to help people lose weight. However, if you are an adult who is overweight or obese and/or has serious health problems as a result of your weight, there are a number of FDA-approved weight loss drugs available. These are usually prescribed to people who have tried diet and exercise, yet have been unable to achieve any significant weight loss. Four FDA-approved weight loss medication options are:
Adipex-P (phentermine) - a relatively short-term weight loss medication, which is usually taken over the course of 12 weeks. This centrally-acting antiobesity product works by suppressing the appetite.
Belviq (lorcaserin) - a serotonin receptor agonist is taken over a longer period than Adipex-P but also works as an appetite suppressant
Contrave (naltrexone-bupropion) - a combination of bupropion, an antidepressant, and naltrexone, an anti-addiction medication, which works together to help reduce hunger and cravings for food.
Qsymia (phentermine, topiramate) - a combination of the appetite suppressant phentermine and topiramate, an anticonvulsant medication.
Prescription weight-loss drugs are not for everyone, but they can be very effective when used alongside dietary adjustments and exercise. If you are interested in starting a course of medication to help with your weight loss, speak to your physician or healthcare provider.
Good luck with all your 2019 weight loss efforts, we wish you a happy and healthy 2019!