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February 1, 2018

Eat, Play, Move: 3 Small Ways to Maintain a Healthy Weight

By: Ryan M. Flynn, M.D.

Living healthy, which means maintaining your weight, can inspire big top-of-the-year resolutions. But keeping up with this lifestyle comes down to a bunch of small choices. I’ve found most of these decisions can be grouped into three areas.
- Dr. Ryan Flynn

It came down to this: If I wanted to live large, I would have to start thinking small. Large as in healthy, active and happy in my own skin. Small, as in my infant daughter, who five years ago made me see life as a gift. 

So I made a resolution. I lost 20 burdensome pounds, but more importantly I kept them off. Not through a low-carb diet or gym class or appetite suppressant, but through a few relatively simple, affordable tactics.

In my journey I learned that maintaining a healthy weight is a lifestyle change that comes down to many small choices. National Healthy Weight Week (Jan. 20-26) reminded me of the simplicity of these choices year-round, so I’m sharing them. And to make it even simpler, I grouped them into three categories.

Ask: You sure you’re still hungry? The long-living Okinawans of Japan have a rule: Eat until you’re 80% full. But how do you know? I track it by putting less on my plate (a smaller plate will help). When I do load up, it’s on vegetables, which are filling and good for digestion. My plate looks like a smiling face: The bottom half is veggies and the top is evenly divided between protein and carbs. If you choose seconds, choose veggies.

Step, squat, just get physical. Find your starting point for physical activity and turn up the heat by 20%. What you do isn’t important as long as it makes you feel better. If it’s practicing your dance moves in front of the mirror, have at it. I started with body weight exercises – 20 push-ups and 20 squats as a daily minimum, but I often found myself choosing to do more. Now I put in 20 to 30 minutes a day, but build in activities like standing instead of sitting, walking faster and taking the stairs.

Pause before you bite (or sip). Generally, we consumer a lot of unintended calories, from the mayo on our bread to the after-work cocktail. In between we may choose a whipped coffee drink and a “healthy” but sugary granola snack. Like interest on a credit card, sugar calories can have a compounded effect – a potentially slowed metabolism. So be sure: Is that snack the best choice for your body’s needs? When in doubt, choose veggies or fruit.

These three “baby” steps were especially helpful because they made me focus on small decisions, not harsh changes. As one became habit, I added another, and so on. It didn't happen in week, but in time these small choices made a big difference – a new lifestyle for a new life. 

You can learn more healthy-living tips from our recent blog, “Five Ways to Take Control of Your Health in the New Year.”

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