From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Change Your Lifestyle to Address Metabolic Syndrome,” by Michelle Babb, in the June 2010 issue. Article summary: Although massage therapists, as a whole, are probably much more health-conscious than the general population, the stress of running a busy practice and having to grab meals between sessions can lead even this type of health-care professional down the road to overweight—or worse, metabolic syndrome.

by Lauren Obermann Dauro, R.D., L.D.

1. Weight loss takes dedication, hard work and patience. While extreme diets promise quick weight loss, generally people end up gaining all the weight back from these types of diets—if not more. Don’t expect to see changes overnight.

2. Banish the word diet from your vocabulary. Life should not be a process of dieting and not dieting. If you are serious about losing weight, you need to be able to commit to a lifestyle change.

3. Set a realistic weight goal for yourself and check with your doctor before starting any weight-loss program. One simple tool to see if you are on track is by checking your body mass index (BMI). Try the National Institute of Health’s calculator: www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi.

4. Know what’s healthy. A healthy rate of weight loss for most people is up to 2 pounds per week. Any faster, and you may cause more harm than good or deprive yourself of essential nutrients.

5. Know how much energy you use. Your age, gender, activity level, body composition, metabolism and height all affect your calorie needs. One website, www.fitday.com, has interactive tools to determine your calorie needs.

6. Do the math. To lose one pound, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you take in. If you can burn an additional 500 calories a day, you would technically lose one pound in a week.

7. Get moving! Burning calories from small changes (taking the stairs, parking far away) adds up; better still, establish and commit to a workout routine.

8. Be aware of what you eat. Try keeping a food log. Read the nutrition facts panels on packaged food and pay attention to portion sizes.

9. Don’t go to extremes. Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods. You can have them on special occasions, in smaller portions. Make sure to have variety and include all of the food groups to get all the essential nutrients. Additionally, exercising excessively or eating less than 1,200 calories a day may lead to health problems and actually hinder your weight loss.

10. Don’t get discouraged. You don’t have to change all your habits at once. Start with small steps. Many people find it helpful to have an accountability buddy, join a weight-loss group or make regular appointments with a nutritionist.

Lauren Obermann Dauro, R.D., L.D. is an assistant professor of holistic nutrition at Clayton College of Natural Health.

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