Program helps participants figure out best weight loss approach for them
Like many Americans, you may be starting 2017 with a resolution to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight. The average American gains about a pound of weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day - not as much as you might think, but if you put on that extra pound year after year, they begin to add up. And while nearly 50% of people resolve to lose weight at the beginning of each year, research from the University of Scranton finds at least 25% abandon their resolutions for better health within 2 weeks.
Not Morrigan Phillips. The 36-year old social worker began her quest for healthier living long before the holidays began as part of Tufts Medical Center’s Jumpstart To Wellness program - and she stuck with it despite being surrounded by treats at the office, turkey feasts and seasonal soirees.
“It was really hard to manage saying ‘no thanks’ and to sit while others ate and not feel awkward, but over time I really realized no one else noticed or cared,” says Phillips. “I also looked at holiday gatherings as more than just an occasion for food. They are also times for games, family, friends, conversation and more.”
The goal of Jumpstart To Wellness is to kick off a conversation about weight and improve access to nutrition education and wellness care for those who are overweight or obese and want help improving their health. The program, specifically designed for those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 35, involves three one-on-one sessions with a dietitian.
“For many, it’s the first time they’ve ever talked about their weight – what resources exist, how to get started,” notes Michelle Huber, a registered dietitian with the Jumpstart To Wellness Program. “They feel like they’ve tried everything or they know what to do, but they’re not sure how to go about doing it. We’ll look at what they’ve tried in the past and what was successful short term and why it didn’t work long term.“
By focusing on what people have tried in the past and why it didn’t work long term, program counselors help participants create small nutrition and exercise goals and get out of the diet mentality.
“Instead of doing what you think you should do or someone told you you should do, do something you want to do,” recommends Huber. “Because then you may stick with it. Be able to identify why it’s important to you and start with one small step towards your goal. Don’t set your sights too high so you don’t get discouraged.”
Morrigan Phillips found that keeping a food log of what she eats each day helps her think strategically about what she’s eating and make the right food choices.
“The logging helped me to create balance in my meals. If I chose to eat a biscuit at lunch it helped me think about eating a more high protein, low carb snack later,” she recalls. “I learned so much about my eating habits!”
Morrigan’s goals for 2017 are to stay focused on her portion sizes and food logging, and step up her physical activity, eventually getting to the gym 3 to 4 days a week. And she vows to stay positive, even on the days when she doesn’t hit her goals.
“One thing that over time I have learned is patience. It is hard work to really change my diet, lose weight and stay focused,” says Phillips. “I celebrate each little victory and don't dwell on any days that I'm over my calorie goal because it is not about that one day, it’s about the bigger picture.”
The program is covered by those insurance policies that allow a visit with a dietitian for weight loss. Contact your insurer for specifics. For more information on the Jumpstart to Wellness or to sign up, call 617-636-6086.
The above content is provided for educational purposes by Tufts Medical Center. It is free for educational use. For information about your own health, contact your physician.