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  • 6 strategies for achieving and maintaining a long-term healthy weight

    6 strategies for achieving and maintaining a long-term healthy weight
    12 February 2018

    The New Year has inspired many South Australians to lead healthier lives. February 12–18 is the Dietitian Association of Australia’s Smart Eating Week, so to help you be the best you can be in 2018, we have a few tips to keep your healthy eating and physical activity on track this year.

    1.    Understand why it is that you’d like to get in shape 

    We’re all unique; at different life stages, with different priorities, different challenges and we all have different reasons as to why we might like to get in shape. It may be to have more energy so you chase the kids around for longer, perhaps it’s to get back into your favourite outfit, or it may be to improve your long-term health so you can see your grandchildren grow up. Whatever your reasons are, write them down. 

    2.    Set yourself S.M.A.R.T goals

    A long-term goal of ‘losing weight’ can help you see the bigger picture, but it is too broad, making it difficult to achieve. Breaking down your goal into manageable short-term goals will help you monitor your progress and also offers positive reinforcement as you can achieve these goals on a more regular basis. Start with a single goal and once you have achieved it, start on the next goal and build up over time.

    To set yourself up for success, make sure each of your goals are S.M.A.R.T:

    • Specific. Don’t just set a goal of eating more healthily. What is it about your diet you’d like to improve? For example, eating more vegetables specifically. 
    • Measurable. Put a number to it, so you can track it. For example, aiming for five serves of veggies every day means you’re looking at one serve at breakfast/morning tea, two serves at lunch/afternoon tea, and another two serves at dinner time. 
    • Achievable. We know you need five serves of veggies every day for optimum health, but if you’re only eating one or two serves each day now, you may want to consider gradually increasing the serves over time.
    • Realistic. Ask yourself what the chances are that you will be able to stick to your goal; how will you achieve your goal, do you have time for it, how much will it cost, do you need to consider other things about your lifestyle and is it sustainable for you?
    • Timely. Give yourself an end point so that you can assess how you’ve gone. Use a journal to help you track your progress. 

    3.    Plan your meals

    The supermarket is where well-intentioned diets can often become unstuck. By planning a week’s worth of meals in advance, as well as visiting the supermarket armed with a carefully curated shopping list, you’ll be better prepared to avoid the temptation of unnecessary food purchases. Ensure your shopping list includes a wide variety of fresh foods each week. Take this quiz developed by the University of Newcastle to see what food groups you need to incorporate more of in your current diet. 

    4.    Diet is important, but so is moving your body

    Some of us just aren’t gym junkies. But the good news is that there are plenty of activities that can get the heart rate up and gradually encourage weight loss. Walking the dog every day, active travel or dance classes can be small steps which make a big difference. Find something you enjoy doing and if gym sessions do form a part of your weight loss plan, then take care to build strength and engage various muscles gradually. Too much too soon can cause injury, not to mention burnout. 

    5.    Rethink your reward system

    Treating yourself to celebrate the little wins is a great form of self-encouragement and can help you to stick out long term goals. But turning to treat foods as a reward can reinforce bad habits and undo all your hard work. Instead, find ways to reward yourself that are completely independent of food. Treat yourself to a movie night with friends, a spa session, a bunch of flowers, or even a sleep in. Rewards that will capitalise on your boost in self-esteem can be a good idea, like buying a new outfit. 

    6.    Measure your progress

    It isn’t all about jumping on the bathroom scales. Get a journal and write down your goals so you can tick them off as you go. When things go well or if you have a minor setback, write down what happened, why, and how you plan to keep going. Setbacks are normal for any type of behaviour change, but learn from them and prepare for them so you can overcome them next time. Remember, when it comes to long-term weight loss, a quick fix is not the solution. A healthy rate of weight loss for most people is between 0.5 to 1.0 kg per week. Try to focus on developing healthy habits that will contribute to a gradual and consistent weight loss and most importantly, help you achieve a healthier you. 

    There is evidence that having a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancers, including cancers of the lung, bowel, skin, breast, stomach, pancreas, kidney and more.    

    Reduce your risk by:

    •    having a healthy diet, high in plant based foods and limited amounts of processed and red meats;
    •    being physically active every day, aiming for 30–60 minutes of moderate to high intensity activity;
    •    maintaining a healthy weight: that’s a waist measurement under 94cm for men and under 80cm for women;
    •    limiting the amount of alcohol consumed to no more than two standard drinks on any day and including some alcohol free days;
    •    being smoke free and avoiding second-hand smoke;
    •    protecting your skin any time the UV is 3+ by wearing a broad-brimmed hat, clothing that covers as much skin as possible and wraparound sunglasses, using SPF 30 or higher broad spectrum sunscreen and seeking shade wherever possible.

    For more information visit 'Eating a healthy diet' information page or phone Cancer Council 13 11 20.


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