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Focusing less on dieting and more on healthy eating and regular exercise is the key to successful long-term weight management, one registered dietitian says.
"Most of the popular diets and diet books are for quick results, are not healthy and can do major damage to your body," says Netty Levine, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's outpatient Nutrition Counseling Center. "If losing weight to fit into a bathing suit is your only goal, your endeavors will most likely disappoint you. The goal should always be to make health -- not appearance -- priority, resulting in a healthy lifestyle for a lifetime."
Levine offers a "baker's dozen" healthy lifestyle tips for successful weight management:
1. Always plan before you shop and keep a list of foods to buy on your Palm Pilot or refrigerator.
2. Skip high-calorie beverages such as sodas, juices, smoothies and blended coffee drinks. There are approximately nine packages of sugar and close to 150 calories in one 12-ounce can of soda or juice. Smoothies and coffee drinks often are 250 to 500 calories, excluding the whipped cream.
3. Fill up on fiber such as fruits and vegetables.
4. When using salad dressing, dilute with plain vinegar or lemon wedges and always order dressing on the side.
5. Have alcohol-free dinners for a month. One glass of wine is about 100 calories. In addition, wine can lower your blood sugar and make you hungry.
6. Fill half your plate with steamed or raw vegetables and the other half with equal parts of protein and starch that is not loaded with fat. Remember to have fruit for dessert.
7. When you're eating at a buffet, you don't have to eat everything; there will always be another buffet. Line your plate with lettuce or spinach without dressing. In terms of salad dressing, again, dilute dressing with vinegar or lemon wedges.
8. Walk one mile; it will burn 100 calories.
9. Take advantage of the long summer days by walking, running, cycling, swimming and other outdoor activities.
10. Do some gardening. It's a great form of exercise and it allows you to grow fresh vegetables.
11. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
12. Play actively with your children, grandchildren and pets.
13. Establish flexible, short-term, attainable goals.
"Successful weight loss and weight management are determined by a multitude of circumstances, including finding a program to suit your lifestyle, proper nutrients and exercise, and the ability to live with the program once the weight comes off," Levine said.