Weight loss is hard. Here are the keys to succeed.

Sustainable weight loss - two women walking together

If you’ve resolved to lose weight this New Year, the Y and our health partners at Ascension St. Thomas Health Services are here to help. Here are five keys to sustainable weight loss. 

1. Find your ‘why’

Before you even begin your weight loss journey, it’s important to take time to understand why you’re embarking on it in the first place. Discovering and periodically reminding yourself of these so-called “intrinsic” motivations serve as a powerful source of inspiration once the initial excitement of your weight loss program wears off.

“Look within yourself and try to understand why making healthy changes is important to you and what the benefits are,” says Elizabeth Boles, the YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s director of healthy living.

2. Start small

When it comes to weight loss, too many people make the mistake of trying to change everything all at once, which is both unrealistic and unsustainable. That’s why it’s much better to start with a few small goals, says Dr. Amanda Myers, a bariatric support group Leader, licensed mental health therapist and behavioral health counselor for Ascension St. Thomas.

“The mistake many people make is they want to do a complete overhaul at once and that is not sustainable,” explains Myers, who helps people who have gone through weight loss surgery by helping them focus on the behavioral changes needed to have success. “You don’t have to do it all at once.”

3. Make mindful food choices

Myers recommends employing the following tips and tricks when it comes to eating healthier:

  • Set good food boundaries: Be aware of those foods that may trip you up. Focus on high nutrition and high-protein options. Avoid alcohol, sugars and highly processed foods.
  • Eat at your table: Sitting on the couch or in the car can disrupt your meal plan. By sitting at the table, it conditions the brain and gives us energy.
  • Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store: Don’t go down every aisle. Be sure to have a list before you go and try not to deviate from it.
  • Be prepared: Plan out what you are going to eat. Eat more berries and nuts and have a colorful plate.

4. Find accountability

Whether it’s a friend, a family member, group fitness classes, a personal trainer/registered dietitian, or tracking your progress (this is a big one, especially with your food), having a form of accountability will not only help you stack on track, but will also help you get back on track when you have a setback.

5. Be kind to yourself

When you do have a setback (and we all will), it’s important to keep things in perspective. Negative thoughts about ourselves usually lead to unhealthy choices that don’t align with our goals. Try not to say things to yourself that you would never say to others.

That positive attitude and resilience are essential to finding long-term success, Boles explains.

“Weight loss is not a quick fix and there are no temporary solutions that get you permanent results. It is a lifelong journey and, to get where you want to be, you have to keep working at it.”

Weight loss resources

Visit our website for more information about the YMCA’s Weight Loss program and other healthy living resources. 

Click here for more information about Ascension Saint Thomas’s Bariatric Surgery program.