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Tried & True

Four proven weight-loss principles that haven’t changed


Do you feel like you have tried everything out there to lose weight? If so, an old-school method may be the best way for you to achieve and maintain your weight-loss goals. Just like there are laws that apply to nature such as gravity, there are laws that apply to successful weight loss. Let’s dive right in.


Proven Principle No. 1: Create a Calorie Deficit

‘Calories in, calories out’ is a tried-and-true way of eating to achieve weight loss, no matter what eating plan you choose. It all comes down to you “creating a calorie deficit” which has proved to help you lose weight. Studies show that going over your calorie count by as little as 50 to 100 calories each day can add up to a weight gain of up to six pounds a year.

This principle rang true in my own quest to lose weight and maintain that loss. I joined a weight-loss program, lost 10 pounds and was nicely kicked out because they thought I was too small to start with. Needless to say, I gained it all back, plus some. So, I started running races. But that didn’t do the trick either, since I would go home to nacho dip and banana pudding.

After giving a number of diets and exercises a try, I finally decided to try what I had outright rejected for years: calorie counting. To my delight, I lost 42 pounds in three months and, 10 years later, I’m still maintaining. You can find calorie calculators online.


Proven Principle No. 2: What You Eat Matters

Choosing to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can help to stave off your hunger pangs with a greater feeling of being satisfied. Eating nutrient-dense foods makes you feel fuller and more satisfied; it also increases how long you feel satisfied. Which goes right back to ‘calories in, calories out.’ If you’re feeling less hungry between meals, this could decrease your desire to snack. Those little candies between meals really add up. A piece of candy here, a glass of soda there can add several unwanted pounds throughout the year.

In addition to protein, fruits, vegetables and grains, your calories should consist of 35 percent fat (less than 10 percent from saturated fat) and less than 10 percent from added sugars. Sodium intake should be no more than 2,400 mg a day (1 teaspoon of salt equals 2,000 mg).

Example: For a 1,600 calorie diet, you would eat six servings of grains, three servings of vegetables, two servings of fruits, two to three servings from the milk group, five ounces of meat, no more than 53 fat grams (less than 10 percent from saturated fat), and no more than six teaspoons of added sugar.


Proven Principle No. 3: Mindful Eating

Remember what your mother told you about “chewing your food well”? There is actual research to back her up. One study showed greater weight loss in those who slowed down and actually chewed their food thoroughly before swallowing it.

Being mindful and slowing down while paying attention to the color, fragrance, taste and even texture of your food can make a notable difference in allowing your stomach time to tell your brain that you are full. Practicing this could mean fewer calories eaten and a lower number on your scale.


Proven Principle No. 4: Drink “Enough” Water

Finally, drinking enough water is another way to help you lose weight. Studies have proved that drinking water between meals can reduce your hunger and drinking water right before meals can increase feelings of fullness. So drink a glass of water before each meal to fill up faster and eat fewer calories. You can use an online water intake calculator to get the specific water intake required for your weight and exercise level. The general amount for most people is six to eight glasses of water each day.


These four proven principles, along with 150 minutes of exercise each week, can help you lose weight and maintain your weight loss throughout your lifetime. Now you have some solid tools for weight loss success. Go ahead and give it a try. I know you can do it!


Harrell, a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach and a Certified Health Education Specialist, is a University of North Florida Master of Public Health graduate student. She lives in St. Johns County.

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