Wellness Wednesday: Weight loss

Coast Guard All Hands is featuring the monthly “Wellness Wednesday” series to help Coast Guard members learn more about healthy living. Blog author Tim Merrell is the Coast Guard’s Health Promotion Program Manager, a prior health services technician, has a bachelor’s degree in health education, and is a certified personal trainer. Please contact Timothy.M.Merrell@uscg.mil for topic recommendations or questions.

Spring is finally here which means warmer weather, more outdoor activities, and a barrage of commercials urging you to drop a few pounds or get that “six pack” before summer. These commercials include fad diets, extreme workouts, and the use of quick weight loss products. These can be dangerous endeavors and will not likely result in permanent weight loss. In addition, the use of weight loss supplements may contain ingredients that are prohibited for use by active duty military members. So what are some of the things you should consider before starting a weight loss program?

1. Does it make sense? Does this sound too good to be true? Example: lose 15 pounds, or 4 inches off your waste in 30 days.
2. How much money or time are you investing in this?
3. Are your goals realistic?
4. Is this plan sustainable long term?
5. What’s in it? Is it safe?
6. What’s the science? Does it work?
7. Why take it?

Weight loss involves more than just eating less and exercising more. Although both of these factors play an important part in weight management, many times hormones, chronic stress and even lack of sleep can affect your weight loss efforts. There is no clear-cut plan for weight loss and what may work for one person, may not work for you. I strongly recommend you see your primary care provider before starting any new program. They could rule out other factors that may be getting in the way of your weight loss goals (such as a thyroid dysfunction or anemia).

Becoming healthier is more often about making small changes in your diet. An example of a small change may be to reduce your soda intake or eliminate it altogether. Reducing or eliminating daily calories from excess sugar (even alcohol) translates into small daily calorie deficits and over time can return large dividends. Maintaining a healthy weight is also a part of choosing a healthy lifestyle. This includes the proper amount of quality sleep, proper nutrition and appropriate daily exercise. Add extra steps in your day by parking your car a little farther away or take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Before you invest in the latest and greatest gimmick, I recommend you go to the following sites so you can make the most informed decision possible:

Coast Guard Personal Wellness page for resources and videos on nutrition

CG SUPRT 1-855-CGSUPRT (247-8778) for health coaching and nutrition

Operation Supplement Safety for information on supplements, weight loss, and general health questions

If you have additional questions please contact Tim Merrell, Health Promotion Program Manager at timothy.m.merrell@uscg.mil

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