Dr. Melina Jampolis, an internist and board-certified physician and nutrition specialist, doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all diet, so she created a customized eating, exercise and behavior plan in her new book, The Doctor On Demand Diet: Your Prescription for Lasting Weight Loss. Watch the video above as she explains on The Doctors what her plan entails. Whether you follow her diet or not, she explains that there are four things you can do that will dramatically boost your chances of achieving your weight loss goals.
1. Start keeping a food and exercise journal.
Research has found that the very simple act of writing down what you eat can help bring about weight loss. In fact, in some studies, keeping a food journal is the top predictor of long-term success. This is something I’ve seen with my patients — when they keep track of what they eat, they are more likely to stick with their weight-loss plan and see great results than those who don’t.
In my book, The Doctor On Demand Diet: Your Prescription For Lasting Weight Loss, I’ve created a sample food and exercise journal page. You can also use a notebook, an online spreadsheet, a food journal app, your daily planner, or even the notes section on your smartphone — it doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you make note of what, when, and how much you eat.
In your food journal you can also include notes that will guide you as you customize your personal weight-loss plan. For example, if you’re particularly hungry one day, or if you find that a certain meal is especially satisfying (or not), make note of it. This will help you tailor your personal plan going forward. Many people also find that recording their mood or location helps them identify problem situations. A food journal can really help you pinpoint times or places that you may be eating more than you realize, or where you could cut back a little.
I’ve found keeping a food journal really helps my patients stay on track. In fact, I use a food journal myself! You won’t have to keep using it forever (unless you want to), but I hope you’ll commit to it at least for the first month or two.
It’s also important to track your exercise, because doing so helps you hold yourself accountable to yourself and your goals. Tracking your exercise can also help you make changes if necessary, and keep tabs on your progress.
To keep things simpler, you may want to track your food and exercise in the same place. This can also help you more easily adjust your food intake to your exercise, if necessary. Many of my patients find that they are hungrier after certain types of workouts, so I help them adjust their food intake to better control hunger.
2. Tool up for success.
Just a few kitchen tools will make it much easier for you to stick to your eating plan: a food scale, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. These can help refresh your knowledge of portion sizes, especially when it comes to foods that are high in fats and dense carbs. (I actually keep a measuring cup in my cereal box and a tablespoon in my bag of chia seeds!) And speaking of fats, I highly recommend you invest in an olive oil sprayer, which makes it easy to use small amounts of olive oil. You can use the sprayer to squirt oil on salad, meat that’s headed to the grill, or pans in which you saut vegetables if you don’t like using the sprays available at the grocery store.
If you don’t already have small plates and bowls, you may want to invest in a set, because they are an easy way to keep portions under control and help you feel more satisfied, especially if you have become accustomed to large portion sizes that are actually the equivalent of two or even three or more servings. Believe me, using smaller dishes really can help you eat less!
3. Write down your numbers.
Rather than relying just on your bathroom scale as a way to gauge your weight loss success, I suggest you use a soft tape measure to keep track of your measurements. Sometimes the numbers on the scale don’t move as quickly or consistently as we would like, so keeping track of monthly measurements can provide helpful motivation.
When you get started, measure your waist, hips, upper thighs, and arms, and remeasure every one or two months. If you’re just starting an exercise program, you might find that your inches drop more quickly than the numbers on the scale, which means that you’re losing fat and gaining muscle — a big plus when it comes to long-term weight loss.
You might also want to track your body fat. When patients come to see me, I use a specialized scale that measures their body fat. Over time, successful patients see their body fat decrease and their muscle mass increase — a very powerful motivator! If you’re interested in tracking your body fat measurements at home, consider getting your own body fat scale. Just make sure to use it at the same time each day, as the measurements are very sensitive to hydration levels, which generally increase over the course of the day. You may also have the option of having your body fat measured periodically at your gym, health club, or doctor’s office. If you do, you can keep track of it in your food and exercise journal, or with the Doctor on Demand app.
Finally, if you have any medical problems that may be related to excess weight, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, write down those numbers, too. You will most likely see a drop in these values as you lose weight. Like many of my patients, you will certainly find that those improvements are a very powerful motivator to stay on track!
4. Seek social support.
Many studies have found that a supportive social network can improve the chances that a diet or exercise program will succeed. I urge you to try to build a network of people who support your weight-loss efforts. This can include any (or all) of the following: a health-minded friend, a doctor or nutritionist, a psychologist, a colleague at work who is also trying to slim down, an encouraging relative or spouse, a personal trainer, a neighbor looking for a walking partner, or even an online community of like-minded people with whom you feel comfortable sharing your ups and downs. The more people you have in your corner, the better your chances of success!
Modified excerpt from The Doctor On Demand Diet: Your Prescription For Lasting Weight Loss, Ghost Mountain Books. The Doctor On Demand Diet was created by Doctor on Demand which is owned in part by The Doctors’ executive producers.