Illustration of a woman dieting and showing heavier side with junk food and more svelte look with healthy foods.


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Life during lockdown offers opportunity to meet weight loss goals

Published on Friday, May 1, 2020

By: Ruth Cummins

For many, the “Freshman 15” they gained during their first semester of college is a distant memory.

Not so with the extra pounds they’ve been putting on during the last couple of months, a time when their next meal might be dictated by the odds and ends that came through on their latest grocery store click list.

It’s been jokingly referred to as the “COVID-19:” an unanticipated weight gain brought on by shuttered gyms, working sedentarily from the house and snacking way more than if they had less free time on their hands.

But with the right mindset, they can get back on track. As life slowly returns to a version of what it looked like pre-COVID-19, “use this as a time for reflection and create a plan and start to put it into action,” said Paul Robertson, a registered dietician with the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s weight management clinic.

His advice:

   •  Take the time to decide on what your goal is and how ready and willing you are to work toward it.
“Some people have gotten off track with food choices because they are eating out a lot, and there’s merit in supporting your local businesses that way,” Robertson said. “But you need to ask yourself how willing you are to work toward your goal, or to build on it.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how motivated or ready are you to make changes? If you aren’t that motivated, you will likely want to keep your plan simpler to avoid feeling overwhelmed.”

   •  Personalize your plan to meet your goal.

“If you find a plan (to lose weight) on Pinterest and it doesn’t work for you, you won’t meet your goal,” Robertson said. “You need something that is realistic, measurable and attainable for you.

“Ask yourself why you are doing this. Make it personal.”

   •  Devise your strategy.

“There will be many aspects of your plan to work out - specific changes you will make, the time it takes to make those changes, and how you transition into those changes,” Robertson said. “Some people might only feel comfortable implementing one or two changes at a time, and others may feel more comfortable with several changes at once.”

For example, he said, someone wanting to shed 10 pounds might decide that walking 30 minutes a day, six days a week, and using a smaller plate to limit portions may be what they feel comfortable with at the moment to work toward their goal.

“Your past experiences with healthy lifestyle changes will impact how comfortable you feel with beginning your plan.”

   •  Plan for how you will stay on track.

If you don’t see results after a period of time, remember that the definition of results varies from person to person, Robertson said.

For example, meeting your plan to successfully keep a journal six days a week is progress toward your overall goal.

He said your plan also should include someone you trust and whose opinion you value to keep you accountable.

“You need to feel comfortable confiding in them on what your goal is and how you will reach it, and how they will help you in that process.”

   •  Anticipate the barriers to meeting your goal and what will be difficult about the plan you’ve devised.

“If you don’t have as much time as you thought you would for food preparation or grocery shopping, you might want to do shopping with a click list and to be flexible about whether you get everything on your click list,” Robertson said.

Consider that believing you don’t have the time to adequately address your goals is really a symptom of a lack of motivation, he said.

   •  When you get thrown a curve in your plan, work through it.

“Take advantage of potential opportunities,” Robertson said. “With shelter in place, we’ve had to slow down and might have more time on our hands. Don’t necessarily rush to go back to your old routine.

“Realize you don’t have to be involved in everything and anything as things transition back to normal circumstances.”

Leave time open for reaching your goals by accomplishing your plan, he said.
“You don’t have to be perfect. Make sure that you allow for grace in some circumstances, but at the same time, be consistent and develop realistic expectations.”

UMMC’s medically supervised weight management clinic offers bariatric surgery and non-surgical options for achieving a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle. Located at Riverchase Medical Suites, 2550 Flowood Drive in Flowood, the clinic takes a team approach to care with providers that include a surgeon, dietician, psychologist, internal medicine specialist and physical therapist. To make an appointment, call (601) 984-1285.

Portrait of Dr. Josie Bidwell

Dr. Josie Bidwell, an associate professor of Preventive Medicine at UMMC, has coauthored The Cook Right, Live Well Cookbook with Rebecca Turner, a registered dietician and host of “Good Things” on Supertalk Mississippi radio.

Here’s a recipe for a quick and easy healthy snack.

Nutty Monkey Trail Mix

1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup large flake unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup broken banana chips
3 T. dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Toast almonds and coconut on the sheet for five minutes, then let cool completely. Toss with remaining ingredients and place 1/4-cup servings in plastic baggies.

The above article appears in CONSULT, UMMC’s monthly e-newsletter sharing news about cutting-edge clinical and health science education advances and innovative biomedical research at the Medical Center and giving you tips and suggestions on how you and the people you love can live a healthier life. Click here and enter your email address to receive CONSULT free of charge. You may cancel at any time.