5 Ways to Reach (and Maintain!) a Healthy Weight
Diets aren't the way to go when it comes to losing weight. That's because they create temporary eating patterns — and, therefore, temporary results. Most dieters gain back any lost weight when they go back to their old eating habits. So what's the best way to drop excess weight? Create a new normal!
Weight loss is most likely to be successful when people change their habits, replacing old, unhealthy ones with new, healthy behaviors. Here are 5 ways to make that happen:
- Exercise. Regular physical activity burns calories and builds muscle — both of which help you look and feel good and keep weight off. Walking the family dog, cycling to school, and doing other things that increase your daily level of activity can all make a difference. If you want to burn more calories, increase the intensity of your workout and add some strength exercises to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even when you aren't exercising.
- Reduce screen time. One reason people get less exercise these days is because of an increase in "screen time" — the amount of time spent watching TV, looking at the computer, or playing video games. Limit recreational screen time to less than 2 hours per day. If you're with friends at the mall, you're getting more exercise than if you're IMing them from your room.
- Watch out for portion distortion. Serving sizes have increased over the past 10 years, and these extra calories contribute to obesity. Another key factor in weight gain is that more people drink sugary beverages, such as sodas, juice drinks, and sports drinks. So choose smaller portions (or share restaurant portions) and go for water or low-fat milk instead of soda.
- Eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Fruits and veggies are about more than just vitamins and minerals. They're also packed with fiber, which means they fill you up. And when you fill up on fruits and veggies, you're less likely to overeat when it comes to high-calorie foods like chips or cookies.
- Don't skip breakfast. Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, burning calories from the get-go and giving you energy to do more during the day. People who skip breakfast often feel so hungry that they eat more later on. So they get more calories than they would have if they ate breakfast. In fact, people who skip breakfast tend to have higher BMIs than people who eat breakfast.
Mary L. Gavin, MD
Medical Editor, KidsHealth
Nemours Center for Children's Health Media
Division of General Pediatrics
Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children