Dietitians Dish: Post-holiday weight loss

By Stephanie Markman
Jan. 1, 2013 at midnight
Updated Dec. 31, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.

The holidays are gone and with them are the excuses we used to eat anything and everything in sight. So here you are again, a new year with a new weight-loss goal. The question is: How are you actually going to get it done and keep the motivation to maintain it?

First, consider your goal. Is it realistic? Remember that if a diet sounds too good to be true, it is. Also, the faster your weight loss, the less likely you are to keep the pounds off. If you are considering a new fad diet for 2013, first think about what will happen when the diet is over. More likely than not, you will go back to your old habits and regain all of the weight you worked so hard to lose. It is important to build a strong foundation of healthy habits to help you maintain your long-term weight loss and nutrition goals.

My recommendation to you, and I believe most registered dietitians would agree, is to make small changes that will stick with you over time. Start with two or three small goals, and once those are new habits, add on a couple more. Here are some examples:• Replacing one 12-ounce can of regular soda a day with water will amount to a 15-pound weight loss in one year.

•  Choosing frozen vegetables instead of canned can save you 300 mg of sodium per meal. (The goal for an entire day is 2,300 mg of sodium, which is about 1 teaspoon of salt.)

•  Replacing an egg yolk with egg whites or egg substitute three times a week adds up to 9,360 calories (2.7 pounds) and 26,520 mg of cholesterol you can avoid in one year.

•  Replacing one starch serving (bread, tortilla, potatoes, chips, crackers, cookie, ice cream, etc.) for a non-starchy vegetable serving (salad, tomato, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower, etc.) will help reduce blood sugar levels after each meal for those with Type 2 diabetes.

The hard part of healthy weight loss for most people is not what to do but how to do it. Here are some tips to help with the motivation side of weight loss:

Record your food intake and minutes of exercise. This will provide accountability and a good reference to look back on if you seem to be gaining weight or not losing weight quickly enough.•  Think of what circumstances triggered you to eat in the past. Is there a certain room, sitting area, activity or social circumstance that you associate with overeating or unhealthy choices? If so, be sure you can identify these in order to avoid them and make a plan not to overeat before you get into these situations again.

•  Set measurable goals with a timeline. If you have no deadline, you will not feel the motivation to start these important changes. Remember, healthy weight loss is a half to two pounds per week.

• Almost every person who loses weight will have a relapse down the road. Expect that this may happen and make a plan. Be ready to increase exercise and/or decrease calorie intake when your weight loss begins to plateau. In order to lose one pound a week, you must cut out 500 calories each day. You can burn these calories with a doctor-approved increase in exercise and reduced food intake.

You need positive reinforcement. Try to find friends, family or some sort of weight-loss group to support you in your new, healthy changes. Encourage yourself and others as often as possible to keep up the changes you have made so far and continue to build on them. Negativity will only bring you down; avoid it when possible and be ready to confront the naysayers in your life when you cannot avoid them.

Stephanie Markman is a registered and licensed dietitian at DeTar Health care Systems. Send questions or comments to



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