Column: People who lost weight share how they kept it off in 2007

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 5, 2008

By Denise Arnold, Nutrition Tips

Have you ever read the fine print on magazine or television advertisements for weight loss supplements or exercise equipment? Look closely and you will see, in small print at the bottom, &8220;results not typical.&8221; So my question is, if results aren&8217;t typical, why would you want the product?

As much as we hear from professionals that we shouldn&8217;t set New Year resolutions for weight loss because we are doomed to failure, we still do, so we might as well give it our best shot. The newest behavior modification touted by many diet book authors currently on the market is the sharing of success stories as a behavior change motivator. Who cares though about the success of a movie star that has the luxury of having a personal trainer or private chef? Rather, wouldn&8217;t those of us who live in Albert Lea rather hear the successes of real people from our community that we can relate to? Someone who shops and lives in our community and deals with many of the same obstacles to weight loss we do?

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So here are tips on weight loss from your own friends and neighbors. These people came to me, asking for my guidance to help them change their dietary habits, and they did. They&8217;ll not only tell you how they lost weight but also but also how they kept it off in 2007. (Their names are changed but they are real patients who have given me permission to share their results).

Sam lost 34 pounds over an 18-month period and is now maintaining.

Denise: &8220;What have you done differently to experience this weight loss success?&8221;

Sam: &8220;I never used to exercise, now I walk two to three miles per day. I was walking outside, now with colder weather I will use my treadmill. I am eating less and count the calories I take in each day.&8221;

Denise: &8220;Do you have any food battles?&8221;

Sam: &8220;My weakness is ice cream and chocolate but I&8217;ve found 60-calorie ice cream bars and I limit myself to two or three snack-size candies each day.&8221;

Barb lost 18 pounds in three months.

Denise: &8220;What was the biggest change you made?&8221;

Barb: &8220;Calorie counting made all the difference. I&8217;ve always been good at exercising but never lost the weight. Plus I have a substantial breakfast that holds me over like oatmeal or yogurt.&8221;

Denise: &8220;Have you given up all snacking?&8221;

Barb: &8220;My cravings are chocolate so I give myself one piece. I have also found Nestle Fat Free Carb Select hot chocolate that is only 25 calories and it allows me my chocolate at only a few calories.&8221;

Denise: &8220;What benefits have you noticed from losing weight?&8221;

Barb: &8220;I went from a size 12 to size 8 dress.&8221;

Carol lost 51 pounds in six months.

Denise: &8220;What have you done to lose weight?&8221;


&8220;I count calories on everything I eat. I am exercising and I&8217;m learning to say &8216;no.&8217;&8221;

Denise: &8220;What is still a struggle for you?&8221;


&8220;The old behavior patterns &8212; not wanting to exercise, but knowing I need to.&8221;


&8220;So what exercise do you do?&8221;

Carol: &8220;I use my treadmill three times per week, weight machine every day, and I&8217;m up to 11 miles on my stationary bike (I do this every day as well). I only do stretches on the weekends to give my muscles a break.&8221;

Denise: &8220;What health benefits have you noticed because you&8217;ve lost weight?&8221;


&8220;I can breathe! My headaches have improved tremendously and my lower back doesn&8217;t hurt anymore. The only medications I now take are vitamins!&8221;

Denise: &8220;How do you handle holidays or eating out?&8221;

Carol: &8220;Holidays and eating out are struggles &8212; but I either eat my meal at home and have a salad at a party or I&8217;ll check the menu of where I&8217;m going online so I&8217;m prepared.&8221;

Denise: &8220;Do you have a buddy to help you stay on track?&8221;

Carol: &8220;My family has been my biggest support.&8221;

Denise: &8220;What advice would you give to someone wanting to lose weight?&8221;

Carol: &8220;Losing weight is a total lifestyle change, I had to get through my head. I just said one day &8220;I&8217;ll do this for two weeks and see what happens.&8221; I lost weight and have kept going with it. The benefits of losing weight are so much more than if I&8217;d never tried. I feel better and look better. Pick a day and start!&8221;

Janelle lost 44 pounds in eight months.

Denise: &8220;What is the biggest benefit from losing weight have you seen?&8221;

Janelle: &8220;I went from size 22 dress to size 16-18.&8221;

Denise: &8220;What do you do to exercise?&8221;

Janelle: &8220;I do more purposeful exercising. I keep small hand weights right at my computer so I can do some upper body exercises right where I sit.&8221;

Denise: &8220;You&8217;ve lost weight from counting calories. Why has this helped you?&8221;

Janelle: &8220;I am more aware of what I eat because I write down foods I&8217;ve eaten during the day.&8221;


&8220;How do you handle holidays or eating out?&8221;

Janelle: &8220;I plan ahead so if having a special occasion I will adjust food intake before and after the event. I still have treats but limit myself.&8221;

Phil lost 50 pounds.

Denise: &8220;What is most significant diet change you&8217;ve made?&8221;


&8220;Decreasing and counting carbohydrate foods.&8221;

Denise: &8220;What aspect of changing your dietary habits has been most difficult?&8221;


&8220;Keeping my evening meals within portion recommendations.&8221;

Denise: &8220;Are you physically active?


&8220;I exercise 1 hour a day. I do 15 minutes on treadmill in the morning and then take a 45-minute walk with my wife in evening. Even in the winter I walk outside.&8221;

Denise: &8220;What health benefits have you noticed from losing weight?&8221;

Phil: &8220;Decreased blood sugars and decreased blood pressure.&8221;

Jim is 13 years old and was gaining weight, plus he had high cholesterol for a teenager, and a family history of high cholesterol. Over the last several months Jim has maintained his weight, which was what we wanted for him.

Denise: &8220;What is the biggest diet or lifestyle change you made?&8221;


&8220;I choose and eat healthier food and not as much. I also used to eat when I was bored and now that I am aware that I do that, I try not to. I also try to keep sweet treats to only one or two per day.

I used to eat them a lot more.&8221;

Denise: &8220;What do you do to be active?&8221;

Jim: &8220;I am in wrestling every day at school. I also play outside more. I have started using an exercise ball. I do sit-ups and pushups on it.&8221;

Denise: &8220;What advice would you give to other teenagers wanting to lose weight?&8221;


&8220;Join sports and be active.&8221;

Denise: &8220;What benefits have you noticed?&8221;


&8220;My pants are looser at the waist.&8221;

Jim&8217;s mother: &8220;He seems to have more energy and has more muscle tone.&8221;

This is just a small percent of the success stories I hear every day. I hope they have inspired you to make some healthy changes for 2008.

Have a healthy New Year.

Denise Arnold is a registered and licensed dietitian at Albert Lea Medical Center &8212; part of Mayo Health System.