How to Win at Weight Loss

Now that you’ve said goodbye to the last of the holiday leftovers, you’re probably ready to drop a few pounds. To help you reach your weight-loss goal, Aaron Michelfelder, M.D., a family medicine specialist from Loyola University Health System, suggests these strategies, based on the latest research, to lose weight successfully:

  1. Don’t depend on the gym. Health club memberships soar every January with folks who are sure that hitting the weight machines and treadmill will lead to a slimmer body. That’s at least partly true, but to take off weight you must significantly cut your calorie intake. Just adding a few workouts won’t do the trick.

The largest study of what works for weight loss for black women, conducted by Fierce adviser Ann Smith Barnes, M.D., found that the women who lost the most weight and kept it off cut their intake of high-fat foods and fast food, while sticking to a moderate exercise program.

  1. Stay sane. Radical dietary changes are a route to failure. Don’t attempt to live on shakes or green juice, make small, doable adjustments. Michelfelder suggests cutting a few hundred calories a day from your daily diet, eating smaller portions, skipping the bread basket at restaurants and eating a piece of fruit or other healthy, low-calorie snack before going out to dinner.
  2. Don’t pop pills. Advertisements for weight-loss supplements are all over the Internet, but it’s best and healthiest to drop the weight without pills or potions. Michelfelder notes that the supplements encourage your body to lose more muscle than fat. Plus, when you stop taking them, the weight will come back.

The health risks are also significant. Many over-the-counter weight-loss supplements contain stimulants than can cause hypertension, insomnia, stomach pain and a long list of other health problems.

  1. Go slow. Focus on losing one to two pounds a week to make your weight-loss plan realistic. If you cut 500 calories from your usual eating habits (a peanut butter sandwich or bagel with cream cheese) you will lose about a pound a week.
  2. Stay the course. Don’t set an unrealistic goal like getting down to the weight you were your first year of college when you are 40 or older. Recognize the health benefits of moderate weight loss. Michelfelder notes that losing just 10 percent of your body weight will lower your risk of diabetes and your blood pressure — two health issues that disproportionately affect black women. You will also look better in your favorite outfit. Even a 5-pound loss will help alleviate pain in your knees and back.

And there’s no need to go it alone. Supportive weight loss programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers really work, so don’t hesitate to join the crowd.

(Photo: digitalskillet/GettyImages)

(Photo: digitalskillet/GettyImages)

Banish Belly Fat

Aerobic workouts protect heart health and burn calories, but a new study reports that weight training is the key to losing belly fat. Researchers in the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health found that adding 20 minutes of weight training helped study participants lose more belly fat than adding 20 minutes of aerobic activity to their regular workout.