By Diana Lomont, Editorial Contributor
If you’re overweight, shedding some pounds may improve your odds for enjoying a healthier, longer life. That’s because losing weight can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
But as the 45 million Americans who go on a diet each year can attest, losing weight and keeping it off aren’t easy. Three Orlando Health doctors share their strategies and tips to help you succeed.
Dr. Andrew Nye
A family medicine physician with Orlando Health Physician Associates, Dr. Nye shed 55 pounds over five months, mostly by reducing his eating portions.
“Eighty-five to 90 percent of losing weight is cutting back on what you eat and drink. Ten to 15 percent of weight loss occurs from doing aerobic and weight-bearing exercise,” he says.
Since slimming down, Dr. Nye feels better overall, has increased energy, sleeps better and no longer suffers from aches and pains. “Every extra pound of weight adds two to four pounds of stress on the knees,” he says. Here are some strategies he recommends to his patients:
Take time to plan your meals so you don’t fall into the eating-out trap where you’re less likely to limit your calories. Dr. Nye often buys a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and takes it home to enjoy with a little barbecue sauce and vegetables.
Don’t feel that you need to give up anything. Instead, treat yourself with small bites. To satisfy his ice cream craving, Dr. Nye enjoys a couple of tablespoons in a bowl after putting the container back in the freezer. It’s easier to avoid having more if he’s already put the ice cream away.
Keep yourself accountable by sharing your progress with a friend or weight-loss partner. Asking someone to reinforce your accountability can keep bad habits from creeping back in.
Exercise at least 30 minutes a day and incorporate some weight-bearing exercises. Building muscle mass helps your body burn fat.
Dr. Annette Cabiac
An internal medicine physician with Orlando Health Physician Associates, Dr. Cabiac says being ready to commit to a plan to lose weight made the biggest difference for her success in slimming down.
She offers these tips that worked for her:
Get rid of all calories in liquids by drinking water, unsweetened tea or no-calorie flavored water. “Americans drink thousands of calories a week,” says Dr. Cabiac. “Switching to water or no-calorie flavored water is a really easy switch.”
Think outside the box for activity and exercise. “I enjoy archery, which is a lot of fun and isn’t what most people think of as ‘exercise’,” she says.
Limit treats to once a week, which prevents indiscriminate snacking and gives you something to look forward to. Dr. Cabiac enjoys low-sugar protein snacks. “They’re filling and quick, and taste great!”
Avoid the breakroom. “I can control what foods I have at home, but I can’t control the food at work. Be upfront with your coworkers that you’d prefer not to be tempted.”
Dr. Antonio Crespo
After losing 15 pounds, Dr. Crespo, with Orlando Health Medical Group Infectious Disease, made fitness a big part of maintaining a healthy weight. He kick-started his weight loss by following the South Beach Diet five years ago. Today, he uses some basic principles to stay in shape:
Stick with a plan that works for you. Dr. Crespo maintains a more structured eating plan during the work week when he watches his portions, limits carbs such as rice and takes note of calorie counts when available. During the weekend, he often loosens the rules to enjoy some treats or special meals.
Do some type of exercise that challenges you. For Dr. Crespo, it’s weekend bike rides on the West Orange and Clermont trails. On weekdays, it’s easier to go for a run and train for the half marathons he participates in. He also visits the gym a couple of times a week for strength training.
Open your mind to learning to like healthy foods. “You can learn to like to eat things you may not think you like,” says Dr. Crespo, who learned to like salmon and vegetables.
For more healthy living advice, go to OrlandoHealth.com/Wellness.