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Weight Loss

Updated 10/25/2018
Category: Diet

Why Weight?

It’s reflected in the mirror, in the numbers creeping up on the scale and in the tight waistband on your pants. You don’t feel great and don’t like the way you look. It’s time to do something but just the thought of another diet brings to mind feelings of failure, cravings for forbidden foods, and a refrigerator full of wilted celery sticks.

You dream of a better way to trim down, look good, and feel great. Wake up! This dream can be a reality by developing a new style of living that focuses on lifelong healthy habits. Choosing a lifestyle solution for weight management involves creating a positive relationship with food through healthy eating, making physical exercise a regular habit, and dealing with negative thoughts that trigger overeating. When you incorporate these recommendations into your life, your weight will gradually change to a healthy weight you can maintain.

Why Lose?

Weight loss is almost always recommended for persons who are overweight. Achieving a healthy weight helps to improve self-esteem and body image. Weight loss can renew overall health and lengthen life. The risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus is greater in persons who are overweight.

Excessive body weight also increases the risk for gallbladder disease, certain forms of arthritis, gout, and even some types of cancer. Sleep apnea, a serious condition where breathing slows down during sleep, is often brought on or worsened by excessive weight.

Health benefits can be achieved by losing weight. Achieving a moderate loss of only 5 to10 percent of body weight is enough to lower the risks for certain of these diseases. For example, a 10% loss is equal to 19 pounds in a person weighing 190 pounds. Losing just a small number of pounds can make a big difference in lowering blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, and blood glucose.

What Do I Have To Lose?

The number on the bathroom scale isn’t the only way or necessarily the best way to determine the degree of overweight or risk for weight related health problems. Traditional height/weight charts can be imprecise and overly restrictive. More important than total body weight is weight distribution and percentage body fat.

Overfatness is more of a health concern than just overweight. It is possible to be within the range listed on a height/weight chart, and still carry too much body fat. On the other hand, someone could be considered overweight according to a height/weight chart, when in fact they are lean and at a healthy weight.

The difference is body composition, or how much weight is due to fat versus how much weight is from muscle mass. Muscle weighs more than fat, so a more muscular person can weigh more without being overfat.

To Determine Your Waist-To-Hip Ratio
  1. With a tape measure, take the measurement at the waist near the navel and at the widest part of the hips.
    waist_______inches, hips_______inches
  2. Divide the number of inches around the waist by the number of inches around the hips._______ Waist divided by _______ Hips equals_______.
  3. This number is your waist-to-hip ratio_______.A ratio greater than 0.80 for women or 0.95 for men indicates an increased health risk.


  1. A woman has a 34 inch waist and 38 inch hips
  2. 34 ÷ 38 =.89
  3. This is greater than .80 and indicates an increased health risk

Less Health Risk         Increased Health Risk

|   |    |    |    |    |   |    |    |    |    |  |    |    |

0.0 .10 .20 .30 .40 .50 .60 .70 .80 .90 1.0

Some simple do-it-yourself ways of judging fatness are the mirror check, the waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference. First try the mirror check by looking at yourself naked in a full length mirror. If too much fat is seen as rolls, folds and bulges, it may be time to shed some pounds. Where the fat cells are located in the body also effects health. People with excess fat deposited mainly around the waist and abdomen are at greater health risk than those who carry excess fat in the hips, thighs and buttocks. Waist measurements should be smaller than hip measurements. Risks of health problems are greatest when the waist measures more than 36 inches for women and 40 inches for men — regardless of height.

Another accurate judge of body weight is BMI which stands for Body Mass Index. BMI calculates a weight to height ratio and assigns a number to the result. The higher the BMI number above the normal range, the greater the degree of overweight. Generally speaking, a BMI of 27 or above is considered overweight and 30 or above is considered severely overweight.

People with a higher BMI tend to have a higher percentage of body fat except for highly muscular people like body builders. It is excess body fat, rather than muscle, that causes a greater risk for health problems. The higher the BMI number above the normal range, the greater the degree of overweight and the greater the risk for weight related health problems.

As with weight charts, BMI is only a guideline. Consult a doctor or registered dietitian about the weight and BMI that are healthy for you.

Average Body Mass Index (BMI)
Height (feet, inches)

Achieving A Healthy Weight

Success in weight management is not just losing weight but keeping it off permanently. For long term success focus on changes that lead to a slow, gradual weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week or 5 pounds per month. Losing weight slowly promotes a more permanent loss of body fat, not just water weight that can be quickly regained. This involves a lifelong commitment to changes in attitudes, lifestyle, food choices and physical activity.

Risk for Health Problems
BMI Related to Body Weight
20-25 very low risk
26-30 low risk
31-35 moderate risk
36-40 high risk
40+ very high risk

The basic premise of weight loss involves the equation of energy balance. Most people who are moderately active require about 15 calories per pound to maintain their current weight. Body weight remains stable when the number of calories (energy) that the body burns is the same number of calories consumed as food. When more calories (energy in) are consumed than the body needs (energy out), the extra calories are stored as fat. To lose weight the number of daily calories burned by the body must exceed the number of calories consumed. This is accomplished through reducing the number of calories consumed by limiting foods high in fat and calories; and by burning more calories through regular physical activity. This forces the body to draw on stored energy (fat) to balance the equation.

One pound of body fat equals about 3,500 calories. To lose one pound of body fat requires a deficit of 3,500 calories.

3,500 calories = 1 pound fat
500 calories/day x 7 days = 3,500 calories

Burning 250 extra calories in physical activity and eating 250 fewer calories of food every day will help in losing about 1 pound in a week’s time.

Most of us eat without thinking of calories but small changes can make a big difference. Trimming 250 calories from your daily diet can be as simple as not eating the daily donut at coffee break time, skipping the French fries at lunch or saying no to dessert.

Throughout the day there are many small healthful changes that add up to a lower calorie intake. Switching from whole milk to skim milk cuts 90 calories from a 8 ounce glass. Eating a dinner roll without butter can save 33 calories for every teaspoon not eaten. Drinking unsweetened ice tea instead of soda eliminates 150 calories for each 12 ounces. Selecting the smaller fast food burger rather than the big sandwich equals a savings of 300 calories. Going low fat on the salad dressing can save a hefty 120 calories per tablespoon. Check the Nutrition Facts on the food label to discover lower-calorie choices.

Any kind of physical activity can increase energy output and make you feel more energetic, too. Moderate exercise not only burns calories, but if it is done regularly it can actually help you burn calories at a higher rate than someone who doesn’t exercise regularly. A 150 pound person will burn 250 calories by walking at 3 mph for 46 minutes or bicycling at 9.4 mph for 37 minutes.

No, you don’t need a pocket calculator to balance the energy equation. Just look for ways to trim calories from your meals and snacks and opportunities to increase physical activity.

Mind Goal__________Example: keep diary, think positive
Mouth Goal__________Example: 5 fruits/vegetables, follow food guide
Muscles Goal__________Example: walk dog, take stairs
Reward Goal__________Example: bouquet of flowers, movie museum

How To Succeed

Do not look for magic or quick results. A new lifestyle takes a while to develop but the results are long lasting. When mind, mouth and muscles work together, weight loss happens. Admitting to yourself the need for lifestyle modifications is the easy part. What is difficult is actually changing long time habits dealing with attitudes, food and physical activity. Make the commitment to learn about healthy living, take control of your life and make some changes. Start today with these guidelines for successful weight management.


  1. Develop a “can-do” attitude. Forget about dieting! Erase from your mind the dieting rules that make you feel guilty, deprived and fearful of being fat. This is”all or nothing” thinking. Set your mind to focus on the positive choices that will lead to your goals.
  2. Establish goals that are realistic, moderate, and sustainable. Having a clear vision of where you are going will help get you there. It is easiest to change one habit at a time such as walking for 20 minutes or eating at least five fruits and vegetables a day. Look for day-by-day successes and generously applaud yourself with non food rewards.
  3. Keep a diary in a small pocket notebook to record your eating and physical activity. Write down what, where, why, when and how much to boost the awareness level of what you are actually doing. Reviewing the diary helps to identify healthful choices and determine where change is needed.
  4. Remember it’s progress, not perfection that counts. Lapses in healthy eating, physical activity and positive thinking aren’t failures but opportunities to learn. When your hand is in the bag of potato chips ask yourself, why? Focus on your achievements however small. Small changes over time add up to big results.
  5. Accept yourself. Don’t wait to live the life you want until you lose weight. You can have the life you want in the body you currently have. Practice loving and being kind to yourself everyday on your journey to successful weight management.
  6. Create a supportive environment. Involve family members and tell them how they can help you. You may need to gently remind friends to refrain from bringing you high calorie treats or ask others to not comment on your weight. Professional help from your physician, a registered dietitian, or a therapist may be just the assistance you need to achieve your goals. Weight loss groups may be helpful but don’t be deceived by those which promise miracles, sell expensive products or promote strict dieting.
One Serving Equals
Grains Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 bagel or hamburger bun
  • 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
  • 1/2 cup cooked pasta or rice
  • 5-6 small crackers
  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1.5 ounces natural cheese
  • 2 ounces process cheese
Fruits and Vegetables Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts
  • 1 cup raw, leafy, vegetables
  • 1/2 cup cooked, chopped or canned
  • 3/4 cup juice
  • 1 medium piece
  • 2-3 ounces cooked lean meat, poultry or fish
  • 1 ounce of meat equivalents;
    1/2 cup cooked dry beans 1 egg or 2 egg whites 2 tablespoons peanut butter 1/3 cup nuts


  1. Consider food your ally. Food choices can honor your taste buds as well as your health. Food is not the enemy but a source of energy, nutrition and pleasure. You don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not become malnourished or gain weight from one snack, one meal or one day of eating. It is what you eat most of the time that will make a difference.
  2. Develop a healthful eating plan. Consult the Food Guide Pyramid for the framework for a sensible diet which focuses on foods such as whole grain breads, pasta, vegetables, fruits, cereal, rice, low fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, poultry, legumes and eggs. Think ahead to plan the day’s meals, anticipating situations such as parties, luncheons or business dinners that may pose a challenge.
  3. Teach yourself portion control. Become familiar with the recommended number and size of food servings needed to improve your weight. Measure foods carefully until you become familiar with serving sizes.
  4. Respect your hunger. Physical hunger is the signal to eat. Eat only until you are comfortably full. Learn to distinguish between physical hunger and the urge to eat which begins with the sight, smell or thought of food. Mindless eating often occurs while doing something else like watching television, reading, socializing or cooking. Be alert for emotions or stress that triggers overeating. When tempted to eat when not really hungry, do something else: walk the dog, call a friend or read a book.
  5. Plan ahead. Think healthful when choosing foods. Food labels will help you become aware of the nutritional benefits of foods. The Nutrition Facts panel shows the calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars and other nutrients. Supermarket savvy shoppers know what they are buying, shop with a list, and escape the temptation of impulse purchases by not shopping when hungry.
  6. Think healthy when cooking. Modify traditional recipes by using lower-calorie and lower fat ingredients. For example, try substituting low fat versions of dairy products or using two egg whites instead of one whole egg in baked goods. Broiling, baking, roasting, or steaming favorite foods instead of frying helps to control calories and lower the fat content.
  7. Enjoy a wide variety of foods. Moderate rather than totally eliminate fat, sugars and high calorie foods. There are no “good” foods or “bad” foods; guilt feelings about eating are a barrier to developing healthful eating habits. Strive for balance, be sensible, enjoy eating without overdoing it.


  1. Round out healthy eating with physical activity. Physical activity is just moving your body. Activities involving physical movement help to enhance health, give pleasure, boost energy, elevate mood, improve sleep quality and can be a fun part of everyday life. The physical benefits include burning calories, building muscle, increased metabolism (even after exercise), and lowering of heart rate, cholesterol and blood pressure. Your heart, bones and entire cardiovascular system benefit. More importantly physical activity leads to a greater sense of well being and helps in decreasing depression.
  2. Move your body more all day. Use the stairs, walk from the back of the parking lot, move around whenever you can during the day and use less labor saving devices to benefit your body and weight loss efforts.
  3. Find pleasure in physical activity. Choose activities that are fun. If the exercise you choose is painful or boring it will be hard to maintain the routine. If you hate jogging try something else. There are so many activities to choose from: walking, swimming, bicycling, treadmill walking, hiking, golf, tennis, ballroom dancing, canoeing, volleyball, skiing and gardening. Mix it up to keep things interesting. The main point is to do something physical that you enjoy! But give yourself a day off now and then.
  4. Schedule time for physical activity in your daily planner to show it’s importance. Don’t allow your schedule to get so busy that you keep deleting this important part of weight management. It may help to exercise with a friend, join a club, or you may do best on your own. Remember the rule of three. If you find that you cancel three physical activity opportunities in a row, the chances are that you will quit. You need to feel that this investment of time will improve your health as well as happiness. You are worth this extra effort!
  5. Some people want more than joyful movement although for others that’s just enough activity for them. A higher level of interest in exercise increases the desire for total fitness. A total fitness program consists of three parts — aerobic exercise for heart and lung health, resistance training (weight lifting or calisthenics) for strength and stretching for flexibility. Ideally, devote at least 30 minutes three times per week. Keep exercise at a comfortable level. You should sweat a little but be able to talk without being out of breath. Make a commitment to yourself to continue exercise even when the weather is not ideal.
  6. Consult with a medical professional when starting a new program. Your physician will advise the best activities for you. Look for fitness advisers, instructors, videos or books to become informed about the types, intensity, frequency and complexity of exercises that match with your abilities, body size and interests. Exercise isn’t a punishment for looking bad or a necessary evil for looking good. It’s a gift you give yourself because you need and deserve it. Play to play not just to win.
Exercise Guide
  • Sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time
  • Playing computer games
  • Watching TV
Leisure Activities Flexibility and Strength
  • Golf
  • Bowling
  • Softball
  • Ballroom Dancing
  • Stretching/Yoga
  • Calisthenics
  • Weight Lifting
  • Martial Arts
Aerobic Exercise Recreational
  • Brisk Walking
  • Treadmill Walking
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Jogging
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Hiking
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Walk the Dog
  • Take the long way around
  • Use the Stairs Instead of the Elevator
  • Walk to the Store or Mailbox
  • Yard Work
  • Park Your Car at the end of the lot

The Personal Challenge

Weight loss is a great accomplishment but it does require a commitment from you. Look back over the Mind, Mouth and Muscles guidelines for successful weight management and set a few goals for yourself. Start small, tell a few close friends or family members and Just Do It! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why Weight?

When you reach your realistic weight loss goals (and with persistence, you will) you will find great satisfaction in your accomplishment of creating an improved, healthier version of the real you. Your new healthier lifestyle will make you feel better mentally and physically while your healthier body will almost surely last longer.

Celebrate success by helping someone else reach their goals, teaching always reinforces what you know. Congratulations on reaching your goal. Jumping for joy is the best exercise of all!


The Food Guide Pyramid

Use the Food Guide Pyramid as the basis for a healthful eating pattern. Aim for the minimum number of servings from each food group. The number of recommended servings depends on age, gender, body size and activity level.

and Many
Older Adults
Men, Teen Girls,
Active Women,
Teen Boys
Calorie Level

About 1,600

About 2,200

About 2,800

Bread Group




Vegetable Group




Fruit Group




Milk Group




Meat Group

2, total of 5 oz

2, total of 6 oz

3, total of 7 oz

Total Fat Grams




Sample Menu, 1200 Calories




  • grapefruit
    1/2 cup
  • raisin bran cereal
    3/4 cup
  • skim milk 1 cup
  • wheat bread 2 slices
  • roast turkey 2 oz
    mustard 1 tsp
    lettuce leaf
    tomato 1/2 med
  • carrot 1 med
  • apple 1 med
  • broiled fish 3 oz
  • brown rice 1/2 cup
  • lettuce 1 cup
    tomato 1/4 med
    fat-free dressing 1 Tbsp
  • cooked broccoli 1 cup
  • dinner roll, 1 small


  • low-fat yogurt 1 cup
  • thin pretzels 4
This Sample Diet Provides the Following



14 gm


71 gm


25 gm


207 gm


1,128 mg

Sample Menu, 1,600 Calories




  • pineapple juice
    1/2 cup
  • whole wheat English muffin 1
  • jelly 1 Tbsp
  • poached egg 1
  • skim milk 1 cup
  • baked potato 1
  • cheddar cheese 2 oz
  • tomato salsa 2 Tbsp
  • lettuce wedge
    fat-free dressing 1 Tbsp
  • broiled pork chop 4 oz
  • baked sweet potato 1/2 med
  • applesauce 1/2 cup
  • steamed zucchini 1/2 cup
  • dinner roll, 1 small
  • margarine 1 tsp


  • bagel 1
  • reduced fat cream cheese 1/2 oz
This Sample Diet Provides the Following



44 gm


87 gm


17 gm


209 gm


1,163 mg

Sample Menu, 2,200 Calories




  • cooked oatmeal
    1 cup
  • banana 1 small
  • raisin bread toast 1 slice
  • margarine 1 tsp
  • skim milk 1/2 cup
  • water packed tuna
    2 oz
    reduced fat mayonnaise 1 Tbsp
    celery stalk 1
    chopped onion
    2 Tbsp
    red pepper 1/2 med
  • pita bread 1
  • grapes 20
  • fig bar cookies 4
  • lean cooked ground beef 4 oz
  • hamburger bun 1
    American cheese
    1 oz
    ketchup 1 Tbsp
    lettuce leaf
    onion slice
    tomato slice
  • oven French fries
    10 strips
  • carrot 1/2 cup
  • strawberries 1/2 cup
  • kiwi fruit 1/2 med



  • vegetable juice cocktail 1 cup
  • vanilla wafer 8
  • low fat yogurt 1 cup
This Sample Diet Provides the Following



68 gm


90 gm


29 gm


317 gm


939 mg


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