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How to Get Smart About Weight Loss

SUNDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- By this point, New Year's resolutions might be a dim memory -- which makes it a good time for fine-tuning, especially for those who resolved to lose weight.

Brittany Glassett, a registered dietitian with Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver, suggests using what she calls the "SMART" system to create goals for yourself -- with "smart" being an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

In the area of specificity, for example, don't just plan to "eat better." Make a specific goal, such as eating fast food three fewer times a month.

Write down your goals and focus on just one or two at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Then keep working on those one or two goals until you've made a change, remembering that it takes about three weeks to adopt a new habit.

Glassett also suggests thinking about mini-goals. Instead of saying you'll lose 50 pounds, consider losing 5 pounds over the next four weeks.

And get support from family and friends: Let them know about your goals and tell them to hold you accountable.

Glassett also has created a list of what she calls six small changes that make a big difference:

  • Eat more whole grains, which contain heart-healthy fiber along with vitamins and minerals. Fiber can help you stay full between meals.
  • Add color to your plate through such foods as fruits and vegetables. Try putting three colors on the plate that aren't white, cream or yellow.
  • Don't skip meals. And consider having smaller meals every three or four hours rather than bigger ones less often.
  • Cut down on soda, juice and high-calorie coffee drinks, which are full of empty calories.
  • Replace vegetable oil with canola oil and olive oil, which are better for your heart.
  • Keep a food diary, if only for a couple days a week. Studies have shown that people who keep track of what they eat have more success losing weight and keeping it off.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on what it takes to lose weight.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Porter Adventist Hospital, news release, Jan. 20, 2011

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