New York Primary Care Physician, Marissa Ferrazzo-Weller, DO of Pearl River Internal Medicine in Pearl River, New York, a member of Highland Medical PC, shares how to approach losing weight for the New Year.
If you’ve been concerned about your weight but haven’t taken any steps to slim down, now is a great time to make a plan for eating and exercising in the new year.
Putting on weight as you age is common. That’s because the body’s composition gradually changes as you get older. Your proportion of muscle decreases, while your proportion of fat rises. Some people also become less physically active as they age, which can lead to weight gain. Getting to a healthy weight can reduce your risk of many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and some types of cancer.
If you need to lose a lot of weight, you may feel discouraged. Fortunately, even losing a modest amount of weight will benefit your health. Take it slow, and concentrate on making changes to your diet and physical activity that you can stick with over the long term.
Your eating plan should include:
- Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Great nutritional choices include green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, oranges, tomatoes, blueberries and squash.
- Calcium-rich foods. Good options include low-fat milk and cheese, low-fat or no-fat yogurt without added sugar, and broccoli. Many foods are fortified with calcium, such as orange juice, cereals and breakfast bars.
- Limited saturated fat. Cut back on full-fat milk products, fatty meats, tropical oils, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and egg yolks. Instead, eat foods that are high in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, and seafood. These fats also are found in nuts and fatty fish (including salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring).
- Fewer comfort foods. You don’t have to give up your favorite high-calorie foods—just eat them less often, and in smaller portions. Or try a lower-calorie version with healthier ingredients. For instance, substitute low-fat milk or cheese or light cream cheese when cooking.
Your physical activity plan should include:
- Aerobic activity. Aim for about 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, light yard work, or biking at a casual pace.
- Muscle-strengthening activities. On two or more days per week, do exercises that work all major muscle groups (legs, arms, hips, back, abdomen, chest and shoulders).
It may take a number of tries until you find a new way of eating and exercising that you enjoy. When you start to see a difference in the mirror, and in the way you feel, you’ll know making healthy changes to your lifestyle is well worth the effort.