Resolve to lose weight in 2021?

in Health by

Local doctor offers tips for success

By Marie McAden

Losing weight. It tops the 2021 to-do list for millions of Americans.

While fitting into those old jeans may be a motivating factor for some, a growing number of people are being inspired to drop those extra pounds to improve their health.

And with the pandemic still raging, it’s more important than ever. Along with an increased risk of developing serious health issues like type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and certain cancers, overweight adults are much more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19. Studies have found the likelihood of being hospitalized doubles if you are obese and the likelihood of dying increases by nearly 50 percent.

Despite those sobering statistics, losing weight remains a bedeviling New Year’s resolution with a high fail rate. But you can increase your odds of succeeding with some simple strategies.

“The key is to make changes gradually,” board-certified obesity medicine specialist Dr. Yvette-Marie Pellegrino of Beaufort Memorial Lady’s Island Internal Medicine said. “It shouldn’t be all or nothing. Any change is a good change.”

Pellegrino suggests getting started by using the free app MyFitnessPal.

“It doesn’t just provide the calorie content of the foods you eat, it tracks the macronutrients of fat, protein and carbohydrates,” she said. “It helps you make educated choices. In time, those choices become second nature.”

If you cut 500 to 1,000 calories out of your diet each day, over a period of a week you’ll lose about 1 to 2 pounds, considered a healthy weight loss by the CDC.

Pellegrino suggests you identify your personal obstacle and reduce your consumption in increments. For instance, if your weakness is soda, mix half a glass of soda with carbonated water or limit yourself to three cans a day instead of five.

“That’s a win,” she said. “Even cutting one soda a day will make a difference.”

In her practice, Pellegrino, who oversees Beaufort Memorial’s Healthy Weight program, never tells her patients anything is off limits. It’s a matter of making choices.

“You can have a McDonald’s burger, just don’t get French fries and soda to go with it,” she said. “If you’ve got to have the fries, then eat the burger without the bun.”

And sometimes a friend or family member can help.

“Get a buddy to keep you accountable,” Pellegrino said. “You’re less likely to cheat if you’re reporting to someone.”

Here are some common diet problems and Pellegrino’s tips for overcoming them:

Instead of fast food for lunch, pick up a bag of prepared salad and add tuna or chicken for your protein. Top it with oil and vinegar or a healthy salad dressing.

Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. It keeps you feeling full and has no calories.

If you don’t have the time or energy to prepare dinner on weeknights, make a meal or two on Sunday and double the recipe to have leftovers.

Rather than snacking on processed foods like chips, opt for an apple with peanut butter or raw veggies and hummus.

If you’re a supermarket impulse buyer, order your groceries online to avoid those tempting donuts and cookies in the bakery aisle.