New Year, New Wellness Goals

By: Taylor Andres

As the new year kicks off, many people set resolutions aimed at improving personal wellness. With that often comes losing weight or altering diet and exercise habits. After a particularly stressful 2020, many are feeling the impact of comfort foods and lethargy, and they are hopeful to set a different tone for 2021.

Jeffrey Lucchino, R.D.N.

If you are among those hoping to lose weight or to find a healthier routine, there are several tips you should consider to help achieve your goals.

“Be realistic with the kind of long-term dietary plan you’re on. If you’re on a specific diet plan, think about how sustainable it is,” said Jeffrey Lucchino, director of sports nutrition at UPMC Sports Medicine. “Many people will try popular diets like low-carb, keto or intermittent fasting because they promise quick results. They do give quick results — but these diets promote more of a drastic decrease in calories and the body’s internal water stores than an actual physiological change.”

Set Yourself up for Success

According to Lucchino, getting started and maintaining the the process is the most difficult part about losing weight. It is important to stick it out once you start toward your goals, rather than allowing yourself to quit.

Lucchino also recommends not weighing yourself every day, as this can lead to disappointment or frustration. It will be different for everyone, but in general, weighing yourself once a week in the morning before eating and putting on heavy clothing will give the most accurate results.

“When I work with clients, I try to strike a weight range they want to fall within. Everyone’s weight fluctuates and it’s very common to go up or down and not maintain one specific number day-to-day,” said Lucchino.

Tracking daily meals in food journals or apps can be helpful in terms of accountability and awareness for weight loss. It allows people to see what foods are working for their goals and allows room for adjustments to meal plans.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Most importantly, it is crucial not to overwhelm yourself with weight loss goals, especially while we are still living through a pandemic.

“A lot of people have gotten down and view this as a negative time, but a lot of people are also taking a deeper look at their health and weight, and I think this can be a good time for them to work towards goals,” said Lucchino. “Weight loss during COVID can be a really positive thing.”

Lucchino suggests that if you have been working for a long time on your weight loss goals, shift your focus to something else.

“If you enjoy exercises like running, perhaps consider working your way up to a 5k. That way, you’re still working towards weight loss, but it’s more of a training goal. If you enjoy cooking but want to keep losing weight, try diversifying your meal plan with new, healthy recipes,” said Lucchino.

UPMC offers a variety of care options for weight loss and management. To learn more about in-person or virtual consultations for nutrition, visit UPMC Sports Medicine.