News Release

January 13, 2004

Contact: Maureen McGuire, 860-679-4523

Keeping Your Resolution to Lose Weight... When You Have More than Just a Few Pounds to Lose

Farmington, Conn. - Losing weight is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions made every year. But for people who vow to lose a significant amount of weight, that New Year’s resolution needs to last a lifetime.

“The most important thing I tell people who set out to lose more than just a few pounds is that they are not alone,” said Meredith Belden, a nutritionist and registered dietician at the University of Connecticut Health Center. “Help and support is available to people who decide to change their eating and exercise habits,” she said, noting that recent studies suggest about 60 percent of Americans are overweight.

For men, women and teens struggling to keep their New Year’s resolutions, Belden offers the following advice:

  • Make a Plan to Stay Motivated: “When you make a commitment to lose weight, remember that you need to stay committed to your plan. It may help to make a list of all the reasons why you want to lose weight, feel good, and continue on a lifelong path to better health,” Belden said. “Motivation is so important. It is difficult to have a good outcome if you are not serious about making a lifelong commitment to healthy eating,” she added.
  • Seek Support Systems: Structured weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers are very helpful to some people. Belden advises people to do some research and find the group that’s best for their individual needs. For any weight loss endeavor, it is helpful to start with a visit to a registered dietician. Most insurance companies now cover several visits per year. “A dietician will not just tell you what to eat. Rather, he or she will educate you on proper nutrition, portion sizes, meal planning and long-term strategies to lose weight,” Belden said.
  • Set Realistic Goals: “Extra weight doesn’t appear overnight - and it won’t go away that quickly either,” Belden said. “A healthy rate of weight loss is a half-pound to one pound per week,” she said.
  • Beware of Fad Diets: “People can lose weight on low carb diets - or any diet that limits certain food groups, because they are decreasing their overall calorie intake. However, it is hard to stick to this diet for the rest of your life,” Belden said. Instead, she recommends a more realistic approach to healthy eating that includes, a variety of foods and appropriate portion sizes. “Everything in moderation is the key to weight loss,” she said.
  • Keep Healthy Foods on Hand: Belden advises people to keep a healthy supply of the right foods, at home and at work. “Fruits, vegetables, whole grains such as brown rice, beans and other legumes, as well as low fat dairy products, lean meat, fish and poultry are essential for tasty and nutritious meals and snacks,” she said. Belden also notes that is important to plan meals so you do not get overly hungry and to avoid too many meals at restaurants.
  • Get Moving! “Increasing your physical activity burns calories, improves heart health and makes you more likely to lose weight and keep it off,” Belden said. Before starting a new exercise program, however, Belden strongly encourages people to seek medical advice about appropriate exercise programs. If you are not physically active, start by spending less time in sedentary activities - like watching television. “It begins by making small changes, like walking more. Aim for 30 minutes a day - all at once or in increments of 10 minutes,” she said. “It’s key to find the exercise routine that meets your unique needs and lifestyle.”

“Ultimately, the goal is to make regular exercise part of your daily routine - like brushing your teeth,” Belden said. “People who have been the most successful in terms of losing weight and keeping it off, are those who are exercise regularly.”

For more information or to make an appointment with a nutritionist at the UConn Health Center, call 800-535-6232 or 860-679-7692.

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

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