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Question:

How can I manage my weight, taking into account my time constraints?? 

Six months ago I had a heart attack. My physician told me that my sedentary lifestyle and high fat diet greatly contributed to this. I have long recognized my weight issue. I weigh 275 lbs and I am 5’8’’. I work a lot and do not have the time to work out to try to control my weight. Can someone offer me advice on how to manage my weight, taking into account my time constraints? Perhaps some specific foods that would reduce the risk of future complications? Thank you.

submitted by Chester from Houston, Texas on 11/4/2012

Answer:

by St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital nutritionist, Rita Zapien MS RD LD CDE 

Ask a Texas Heart Institute Doctor illustrationThank you for your question. I am sorry to hear of your recent heart attack and know it is a life altering event. When discussing lifestyle modification with our patients, we focus on what each individual is ready and willing to do. Goal setting is so important in this process. 

If I understand correctly, you are wanting to lose weight and make healthier food choices, but are short on time. Research tells us that to get the weight off, we have to start with reducing calories first, specifically a reduction in fat calories. This means reducing intake of saturated fats such as butter and cream, and switching those fats out for plant based ones such as nuts, seeds, avocado and olives. A small amount of fat goes a long way with flavor! Dividing your plate is also another strategy, making half of your plate non-starchy vegetables (i.e., broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, and carrots) and making only ¼ of your plate meat-based. The rest of the plate can come from legumes and beans which are great carbohydrate and protein sources, and also high in fiber, which can help in your effort to lose weight. If there is no time for food prep, convenient choices at the supermarket are rotisserie chickens, bagged salads, frozen vegetables, low sodium canned beans and fresh fruit. I also recommend to get calories from solid foods vs liquids (with the exception of reduced fat milk).

Most people can lose 10% of their current weight in six months. To keep that weight off long-term is where physical activity comes in. Per the CDC, adults aged 18-64 should strive for a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity (brisk walking). If you have not exercised in some time, consult with your physician for approval and guidance.  We believe a safe start is perhaps 15 minutes, 3 days per week, working up to 30 minutes. Successful weight loss maintainers exercise daily. You can also divide your exercise throughout the day, say a 10 minute walk in the morning and another in the evening. Perhaps choosing to designate certain days of the week for exercise may help. But my biggest recommendation is to find an activity you find fun.

Small changes reap big rewards. With a little planning, your goals can be achieved. We are here to help! 

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Updated November 2012
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Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
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