Winter Weight Loss: Strategies for success
From Pat Stovey, Crossing Rivers Health Clinical Exercise Physiologist
Winter is upon us and for most of us colder weather can mean months of sedentary behavior and over indulgence during the holidays.
Whether it’s lack of activity or increased calorie intake, most of us struggle with losing or even maintaining our weight during this time.
According to research reported by Johns Hopkins University, people tend to gain 5-7 lbs. during the winter months. Many often ask, how could anyone lose weight during this time of the year? The answer to this question is goal setting and having a plan. Well-planned goals can help you convert your thoughts into action.
Here's how to create successful weight-loss goals.
Focus on the process
Goals for weight loss can focus on the outcome or the process. An outcome or what you might hope to achieve in the end might be to lose a certain amount of weight. This may give you a target, but doesn’t address how you will reach it.
Focusing on the process is helpful for weight loss because you focus on changing behaviors and habits that are necessary for losing weight. A process goal might be walking 30 minutes daily, eating 5 serving of fruits and vegetables daily, or drinking water at every meal. The process is a necessary step to achieving a desired outcome.
Set SMART goals
A good goal-setting strategy is the SMART goal checklist. Be sure that your weight-loss goals meet the following criteria:
Specific: A good goal includes specific details. In order for a goal to be specific, you should indicate what you will do, how long you will do it, and when you will do it.
Measureable: If you can measure a goal, then you can determine how successful you are at meeting the goal. A goal of eating better is not easily measureable, but a goal of eating 1,200 calories a day can be measureable. A goal of riding your bike is not measurable. A goal of riding your bike for 30 minutes three days a week is measurable.
Attainable: Make certain you have the time and resources available to achieve your goal. For example: if a particular type of exercise, such as running, is physically too difficult for you, then running every day would not be an attainable goal.
Realistic: For most people, a goal of losing 5-10% of their current weight is realistic. Setting an unrealistic goal may result in disappointment or the temptation to give up altogether.
Timely: How much time will it take for you to meet your goal? Achieving short term goals on the way to a greater long term goal is the best way to keep you motivated and on track.
Reassess and adjust your goals as needed
Be willing to change your goals as you make progress in your weight-loss plan. If you started small and achieved success, you might be ready to take on larger challenges. Or you might find that you need to adjust your goals to better fit your new lifestyle.
Pat Stovey is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in the Cardiac Rehab department at Crossing Rivers Health.
Phase II cardiac rehab or outpatient cardiac rehabilitation is a physician-referred, professionally monitored exercise program that focuses on managing and modifying risk factors for heart disease in individuals who had a heart attack, angioplasty or stents, bypass surgery, stable angina, heart valve repair/replacement, heart/lung transplant and congestive heart failure.
The Cardiac Rehab department also offers a program to community members seeking supervised exercise. Healthy Hearts is a maintenance exercise program that includes professionally guided and supervised exercise sessions with various levels of monitoring. This program is for any patient referred by a physician or as a transition to non-telemetry monitored exercise after phase II cardiac rehab.