Ask A Nutritionist: What’s a Reasonable Weight loss Goal?

Categories: Blog, Health Check

Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist and volunteer at Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic. Prior to joining the Clinic, she served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP).

Setting a lofty New Year’s Resolution? Think again!

Have you started off the new year by setting a New Year’s resolution, such as losing 50 pounds, or giving up all sweets forever, or joining a gym and exercising everyday? Quite often, setting huge goals can lead to failure and frustration because you can’t achieve them. You may think you don’t have any willpower and give up on making any health-related changes.

It’s not easy to learn to make changes to your diet or to become more active. It is more effective to think of these changes as learning a new skill. And you will be more successful if you set a realistic goal and start with small steps to achieve them.  It takes time and practice to learn a new habit, just as it takes practice to learn to knit or a new sport.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight, don’t think of going on a special diet. Most diets fail because people can’t stick with a completely new way of eating. Instead, start by making small changes to your eating plan that you can stick with and works into your daily routine. And joining a gym can be expensive and a waste of money if you don’t use it.

Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

-Do you normally skip breakfast? it’s best to eat something in morning to give you some fuel and avoiding overeating later in the day.  Eat foods that you like, such as a small serving of last night’s leftovers, Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, a hard boiled egg or two on whole wheat toast, or a smoothie made with fresh fruit.

-Hungry during the afternoon? Try a cup of grapes with one handful or your favorite nuts, whole wheat crackers topped with a half cup of cottage cheese, or a tablespoon of peanut butter on a banana.

-To increase your physical activity, brisk walking is one of the best ways to get started. Aim for 30 minutes most days of the week. If you haven’t walked for a while, start out slow-5-10 minutes a day and gradually add a few minutes as you feel more comfortable. If walking is a problem you can do chair exercises to get your body moving. Google “chair exercises” on your phone for ideas.

Remember, it takes lots of practice to learn these new skills. Don’t get discouraged as we all make mistakes. The more you practice the better you will get at adopting new healthy habits. And give yourself credit for making these lifestyle changes!

Looking for a new recipe to get started? Try this Healthy Turkey Chili Recipe I love, or browse our I [Heart] Recipes section!

To learn more about healthy eating and setting a weight loss plan, make an appointment with Joanne Gallivan, RDN, during your next appointment at Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic.

Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in the Office of Communication and Public Liaison for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1997-2016.  Previously, Ms. Gallivan has served as project manager for NIDDK’s Weight-Control Information Network (WIN), a national source of information on weight control, obesity, and weight-related nutritional disorders for health professionals and the public; as Contract Manager for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program and Obesity Education Initiative, and as Director of the Prince George’s County Health Department Nutrition Division located in Maryland.

Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist. The Free Clinic serves uninsured adults living at or below 200 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, Wadmalaw or James Islands. You can follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.