My Weight Solution Strategies and tools to take action

My Weight Solution
Strategies and tools to take action
The Mayo Clinic
Healthy Weight Pyramid
Throughout this workbook, you’ll use the Mayo
For a lifetime of healthier eating, you don’t need
Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid as your guide to
to be overly precise about counting calories or
making smart eating choices. You’ll find detailed
grams of fat. Just set realistic goals and follow
information on page 22. But the main message
the general pattern of the pyramid. You’ll be well
Getting started.................................................................... 3
you need for getting started is simple: Eat most
on your way to a healthier you!
Are you ready?.................................................................... 5
Not just another diet............................................................ 2
of your food from the groups at the base of the
pyramid and less from the groups at the top.
Part 1: Lose It!
And, of course, move more.
Add 5 Habits....................................................................... 7
Break 5 Habits..................................................................... 8
Adopt 5 Bonus Habits....................................................... 10
Part 2: Live It!
Your Live It! strategies........................................................ 12
Strategy 1: Set realistic goals............................................. 14
Strategy 2: Follow the pyramid.......................................... 20
Strategy 3: Burn calories by being active........................... 38
Bonus section: How to stick with your commitment
Change behaviors............................................................. 48
Change your mind............................................................. 50
Daily Physical
Stay connected................................................................. 55
Overcome challenges........................................................ 58
Images © Artville, BananaStock, Brand X Pictures, Comstock, Corbis, Digital Vision,
EyeWire, Fancy Photography, PhotoAlto, Photodisc, Stockbyte and Veer
Not just another diet
The word diet typically refers to a special
eating plan designed to reduce weight. But
in spite of the promises offered by countless
diet plans, few of them work for most people
or are effective over the long term. In fact,
some can actually harm your health.
Most diets focus only on food — what you
should and shouldn’t eat. The goal is simply
to lose pounds. Unfortunately, as you likely
know from personal experience, those lost
pounds usually come back.
That’s why Mayo Clinic experts have
developed an approach to achieving
and maintaining a healthy weight. This
approach is more than a diet; it’s a lifestyle.
Long-term weight management means
focusing on lifestyle changes and a tailored
eating and fitness plan that’s appealing and
healthy — one that you can live with for the
rest of your life.
As with any weight management approach,
see your doctor before beginning an eating
or exercise program if you have health
issues or any questions about your health.
2 My Weight Solution
A personalized approach
from Mayo Clinic
Using the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight
Pyramid as a foundation, you can develop a
personalized weight-loss plan — one that
allows you to make choices. Part 1 of this
workbook provides a two-week program
to jump-start your weight loss, while Part
2 gives you three strategies to make the
long-term changes that are most effective
for weight loss. Finally, our “Bonus section”
shows you how to be your own coach to stick
with the changes you’re making.
As you begin this process,
talk with a trusted adviser or
friend, health coach, or other
health professional about what
motivates you to lose weight.
Then take a look at what drives
you to make changes with the
checklist on the next page.
Getting started
Find your inner motivation
Chances are, you already have a pretty good
idea of what you need to do to lose weight
— eat less and move more. But knowing the
basic calorie equation for weight loss and
being ready to make the necessary changes
in your life are two different things. To be
successful at losing weight, you need to
figure out what will give you an ongoing,
burning desire to succeed. You need to tap
your inner motivation.
Motivation lies at the heart of your weightloss plan — it’s what gets you going
and keeps you at it. Motivation connects
thoughts and feelings to action and provides
a sense of purpose. By understanding what
motivates you, you’ll be better able to follow
through with your eating and fitness plan.
Consider all the benefits of losing weight and
staying fit listed at right. Rank your top three
reasons — from 1 as your most important to
3. Rank more than three if you want, and add
your own reasons if they’re not on the list.
Consider posting the list where you’ll see it
often. Discuss your list with a trusted friend
or adviser.
What moves you to lose?
c Look better
c Feel better
c Feel comfortable in my clothes
c Improve my physical stamina
c Manage high blood pressure
c Improve my cholesterol
c Prevent or manage diabetes
c Reduce joint pain
c Prevent or reduce lower back pain
c Improve my sleep
c Increase my energy
c Improve my self-image and self-confidence
c Improve my outlook on life
c Improve my quality of life
c Increase my life expectancy
c Be a role model for my family
c More motivators:
Mayo Clinic 3
How to prepare
Along with finding your motivation, you’ll
want to decide whether now is the right time
to begin a weight program. Take these steps
to prepare the way.
• Make sure you’re ready. Answer the
questions on the next page to determine
if now is a good time to start a weightloss program. Starting before you’re
ready or when you’re distracted by other
major events in your life — job stress or
marriage problems, for example — can
set you up for failure. On the other hand,
people with health challenges often feel
the need to start a weight-loss program
and succeed because of that extra sense
of motivation. You’ll know best if the
timing is right.
• Consider your health. If you have health
issues, such as diabetes, heart disease,
shortness of breath or joint disease, or are
pregnant, see your doctor before starting
your weight program.
• Get support. Losing weight and keeping
it off is a lifelong process. You’ll have to
change long-standing habits, which can
be difficult. It helps to be accountable
to someone. Enlisting the help of coworkers, family or friends is a powerful
motivator that can increase your odds of
success. See page 55 for tips on rallying
your support network.
Circle one best
answer for each
Are you ready?
• Find out where you stand. To determine
your starting point, be sure to record
your weight, your body mass index
(BMI) and your waist size (see pages
18-19). Save that information so that you
can refer back to it as you make progress.
Make sure your first weigh-in is at a time
you can follow consistently with followup weigh-ins, such as first thing in the
➊ How motivated are you to lose weight?
➎ If you answered yes to the previous
question, how often have you eaten like
this during the last year?
a.Highly motivated
b.Moderately motivated
c.Somewhat motivated
a. About once a month or less
d. Slightly motivated or not at all
b. A few times a month
c. About once a week
➋ Considering the amount of stress
affecting your life right now, to what
extent can you focus on weight loss and on making lifestyle changes?
d. About three times a week or more
➏ Do you eat for emotional reasons — for example, when you feel anxious,
depressed, angry or lonely?
a. Can focus easily
• Choose your approach. Some people
benefit from the psychological boost of
the two-week jump-start plan in Part 1.
Others would rather aim for a steady,
moderate weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a
week, outlined in Part 2.
• Pick a start date. Before then, become
familiar with the dietary and fitness tips
in this book. Get ready by stocking up
on fruits and vegetables and by planning
how you’ll track your progress.
b. Can focus relatively well
a. Never or rarely
b. Occasionally
d. Can focus somewhat or not at all
c. Frequently
d. Always
➌ People often lose weight quickly at first.
But overall, it's best to lose weight at a
rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week. How
realistic are your expectations about
how fast and how much to lose?
➐ How confident are you that you can
make changes in your eating habits
and maintain them?
a Completely confident
a. Very realistic (Gradual weight loss is fine.)
b.Moderately confident
b.Moderately realistic
c.Somewhat confident
c.Somewhat realistic
d. Slightly confident or not at all
d. Somewhat or very unrealistic (I want to
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re
ready to begin. On your start date, simply
jump right in. As you start planning meals
in a healthier way and become more active,
you’ll feel better and have more energy.
lose weight as fast as possible.)
➑ How confident are you that you can
exercise several times a week?
➍ Aside from special celebrations, do you
a.Completely confident
ever eat a lot of food rapidly and feel
that your eating is out of control?
b.Moderately confident
c.Somewhat confident
d. Slightly confident or not at all
If most of your responses are:
• a and b, then you’re probably ready to start a weight-loss program.
• b and c, consider if you’re ready or if you should wait and take
action to prepare yourself. (See pages 48-49 for ideas on how.)
• d, you may want to hold off on your start date and take steps to
prepare yourself. Reassess your readiness again soon.
4 My Weight Solution
Note: If your answer to question 5 was b, c or d, discuss this with your doctor. If you have
an eating disorder, it’s crucial that you get appropriate treatment.
Mayo Clinic 5
Part 1: Lose It!
Designed to help you lose
6 to 10 pounds in 2 weeks
Results can be a great motivator. This twoweek phase not only helps you see results
quickly but encourages lifelong habits that
help you lose weight and keep it off. The
program is designed to help you safely lose
6 to 10 pounds and learn to eat healthy.
Does rapid weig
ht loss
stay off?
Pounds lost thro
ugh rapid
weight loss ofte
n come back
— unless you
make the
long-term lifesty
le changes
to keep them off
. So after
you “Lose It!” se
e Part 2 to
“Live It!
Here’s what it takes:
• Add 5 Habits
• Break 5 Habits
• Adopt 5 Bonus Habits
By sticking to these changes for just two
weeks, pounds will come off, your health
will improve and you’ll feel better.
Add 5 Habits
Add these 5 habits to your daily routine
to make healthy changes that pave
the way for weight loss.
Eat whole grains
Choose whole-grain breads, cereals or pastas,
brown rice, barley, and other whole-grain
products instead of white, refined and highly
processed grain products. They’re packed with
vitamins, minerals and fiber and fill you up. Check
food labels for the term whole. This tells you the
product is not highly processed.
Eat a healthy breakfast —
but not too much
Eat healthy fats
Choose olive or vegetable oils, avocado, nuts
and nut butters, and the oils that come from
Eating breakfast can help you lose weight and
nuts. These fats, called monounsaturated and
keep you from overeating later in the day. You
polyunsaturated, are the most heart healthy. Look
don’t need to eat a lot — just something to get
for products with little or no saturated fat and
you off to a good start, such as whole-grain
avoid trans fats. All fats are high-calorie, so even
cereal (hot or cold) or toast, low-fat milk, fat-free
the healthy ones should be used sparingly; just
yogurt, an egg, nuts, seeds, or nut butters. If
use a drizzle on a salad or when cooking.
you’re not in the habit, start by grabbing a piece
of fruit and gradually add other foods.
Eat vegetables and fruits
Walk or exercise for 30 minutes or more every
day. The more physically active you are, the more
Eat at least four servings of vegetables and three
calories you burn. Physical activity and exercise
servings of fruits every day. Fresh vegetables and
also offer countless health benefits. If you haven’t
fruits are the foundation of a healthy diet and
been physically active, start slowly and give your
successful weight loss. You can eat generous
body a chance to get used to increased activity.
portions while consuming fewer calories. Eat as
many veggies and fruits as you want — they also
make a great snack.
6 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 7
Successful lose
No snacks except fruits
and vegetables
Break 5 Habits
Changing habits, especially ones you’ve
had for many years, isn’t easy. But
breaking these five unhealthy
habits can make a difference
in your weight.
Common snacks typically have a lot of calories
and little nutritional value. If you’re hungry
between meals, eat only fruits and vegetables
and nothing else. Snacking on healthy fruits and
vegetables a couple of times a day can help you
manage your weight. Stock your home with a
variety of ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits.
No TV while eating — AND ONLY
Moderate meat and
low-fat dairy
Studies show that watching TV (or any other
Limit total daily consumption of meat, poultry and
“screen time,” such as computer use) is a driver
fish to 3 ounces — the size of a deck of cards. If
of weight gain. You aren’t moving, and there’s
you consume dairy products, use only skim milk
a good chance you’re also sipping or nibbling
and low-fat varieties, and consume them in mod-
on something. So spend only as much leisure
eration (about two servings daily). Full-fat dairy
time watching TV (or in front of any screen) as
products contain saturated fat that can raise your
you spend exercising. That way, you’re not only
cholesterol. Even lean cuts of meat and skinless
breaking a bad habit (mindless eating) but also
poultry have some saturated fat and cholesterol
adding a good one (being more active).
and can be high in calories.
No sugar — EXCEPT WHAT’S
No eating at restaurants —
All too often, whe
n people lose wei
ght, they
regain it within a
few years. But yo
u can take
your inspiration fro
m success storie
s of people
who’ve lost weigh
t and kept it off fo
r years.
The National Wei
ght Control Regist
tracked hundreds
of these successf
ul losers
and studied their
habits. The regist
members have sh
ed anywhere
from 30 to 300 po
unds and kept
it off an average
of 5.5 years.
Studies of membe
rs’ habits show
that they tend to:
DDMaintain a low-calor
DDBe physically active ie, low-fat diet
DDLimit fast food
DDEat breakfast
DDWeigh themselves
DDWatch less than 10at least once a week
hours of TV a wee
Nine out of
10 people who lo
weight and keep
it off report that
they stay physic
ally active about
an hour a day. Th
eir favorite
workout: walking
If you want something sweet, eat fruit. Otherwise,
stay away from sugar and sweetened foods,
Eating out is associated with weight gain. The
including table sugar, brown sugar, honey, jam
tantalizing sights and smells of a restaurant, deli
and jelly, candy, desserts, and soda. Alcohol
counter, bakery display, food court or concession
also counts as a sweet. Keep in mind that many
stand entice you with high-calorie menu items
artificially sweetened foods like candy, cookies,
and large portions. If you must eat out, make
cakes, ice cream and yogurt can still pack lots of
sure you order foods and beverages that fit the
calories. Relying on fruit to satisfy your cravings is
habits in this book.
a healthier, lower calorie habit.
8 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 9
Eat mostly fresh or healthy frozen or
canned food, and limit processed
foods (see pages 24-25).
Write down your daily goals
Every day write down a goal that
motivates you and you can achieve
during the day (see pages 16-17).
10 My Weight Solution
Part 2 puts you on a path toward healthier weight
for a lifetime.
r daily goals
5. Write you
 1. Keep diet records
2. Keep exe
ve more!
to fi3.llMoout
your Habit
4. Eat “real”
5. No eating
ate meat and
4. Only moder
3. No snacks
2. No sugar
ile eating
1. No TV wh
5. Move!
4. Eat healthy
at restauran
3. Eat whole
bles and fru
2. Eat vegeta
lthy breakfast
1. Eat a hea
Day 4
Day 3
Day 2
Day 1
Check if
Habit Track
Total the
columns and
rows of your
Habit Tracker to
see which habits
you’re having
success with
and which are a
problem for you.
Eat ‘real’ food
5. Write down your daily goals
things that will help you establish a new direction.
4. eat “real” food
to 60 minutes or more (see page 38).
3. Move more!
long term. But you have no doubt learned a few
2. Keep activity records
Increase your daily exercise from 30
Day 14
You might not be able to maintain all 15 habits
Day 5
Move more!
1. Keep food records
long-term plan for a healthier weight.
throughout the day (see page 23).
5. No eating at restaurants
It’s a great way to prepare for Part 2 and your
4. only moderate meat and dairy
Record all your physical activity
patterns and discovering what works for you.
3. No snacks
Keep activity records
2. No sugar
about “catching yourself,” but about identifying
1. No TV while eating
your habits. Remember that the process is not
page 23).
5. Move!
Be more curious than judgmental as you track
4. eat healthy fats
and drink throughout the day (see
3. eat whole grains
Keep a record of everything you eat
2. eat vegetables and fruits
reasons others were more challenging.
WeeK 1
Keep food records
1. eat a healthy breakfast
reasons you did well on some habits and the
— what worked well and what didn’t. List the
Day 13
at losing weight.
Day 12
new patterns. Think about what you learned
Day 11
follow, the more likely you’ll succeed
Day 10
out of your comfort zone and help you establish
Day 9
optional, but the more of them you
Day 8
The habits in Lose It! are designed to bump you
Day 7
program. These 5 Bonus Habits are
Day 6
Pause to reflect before you move forward
Day 4
Habits are must-dos for your Live It!
Day 3
The Add 5 Habits and Break 5
Day 2
Lose It! phase.
Day 1
right and check off your progress throughout the
DCheck if done
progress. Make a copy of the Habit Tracker at
WeeK 2
more likely to succeed if you keep track of your
At the end of each day, check off which Add, Break and Bonus habits you have completed.
At the end of the week, total the columns and the rows to see how you’ve progressed.
When you want to take on healthier habits, you’re
Habit Tracker
Adopt 5
Bonus Habits
Monitor your
Part 2: Live It!
strategy one
Set realistic goals
Three strategies
for reaching a
healthier weight.
Outcome goals
Process goals
Daily goals
The Lose It! phase of your weightloss plan gave you a quick start.
Live It! puts you on a path you
can enjoy for a lifetime.
It all centers on three key strategies that answer
the question: “What really works for losing
weight?” These strategies build on the habits
described in Part 1 and give you the tools and
techniques you need to keep your weight-loss
momentum going. They’re not complicated.
They do take commitment. They’ve been
proved time and again to work for the
long haul.
strategy two
Follow the pyramid
Find your daily calorie goal.
Know your daily servings goal.
Count servings, not calories!
strategy Three
Burn calories by being active
Wherever you are, start!
Focus on physical activity —
not just exercise.
Stick with what motivates you.
Welcome to your healthy, effective, commonsense approach to weight loss. Now you can
start living it!
12 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 13
Live it! strategy one
Set realistic
One of the most important ways to succeed
at weight control is to establish realistic
goals and expectations. Goal setting keeps
Remember …
Start with outcome goals
Stay inspired with daily goals
An outcome goal is longer term and focuses
on the end result. Examples include, “I
would like to lose 20 pounds” or “I would
like to weigh 125 pounds.”
Each day, it’s important to set both meal
servings and physical activity goals.
Outcome goals:
• Guide your planning
• Build the framework for shorter term,
process goals
• Stretch and inspire you
For more on how to set a weight-loss outcome goal that makes sense for you, see the
resources on pages 18 and 19.
you motivated and helps you stick with your
program. You might have a combination of
goals: your weight-loss goal, your health
goals, your exercise goals, or your daily
servings and calorie goals.
The key is to make your goals your own. The
more aligned they are with your likes and
dislikes — your preferences and priorities —
the greater your chances of success.
It’s also important to set one “inspirational”
goal: “Today I will stop eating before I feel full”
or “Today I will focus on positive thinking.”
Daily goals:
• Are the building blocks for weight loss
• Provide a daily sense of achievement
• Keep you motivated to keep up with
your program
You’ll learn how to set your daily food goals
on pages 20-25. You can brainstorm and
record all your goals on page 17.
Move ahead with process goals
Process goals focus on a specific process or
action — such as “I will walk 30 minutes
every day” or “I will eat four servings of
vegetables each day” — rather than a single
outcome. Many people find that when they
focus on process goals, the outcomes take
care of themselves.
Include enjoyment in your goals
When setting goals, don’t forget satisfaction.
A study of individuals who maintained their
Process goals:
• Build success one small step at a time
• Help you reach your outcome goals
• Are the most important type of goal for
many people
Learn more about how to make your process
goals “SMART” on page 16.
14 My Weight Solution
weight after completing a weight-loss program
found that satisfaction with the amount and
quality of daily activities was an important
factor in success.
Make a commit
and don’t look to
far ahead. Wha
t can
you do today to
this weight-loss
work for you?
Live it! STrategy one
set realistic goals
Make your goals work for you
You don’t have to be “goal-oriented” to benefit from setting goals. All you need are some timetested methods for setting the kinds of milestones you can reach.
My Goals Worksheet
Cast your goals in a positive light. Rather than saying, “I won’t eat any
more junk food for snacks,” offer a solution, such as “I’ll have a piece of
Be SMART about your goals
When setting any type of goal, you’ll be
more likely to achieve it if it’s SMART:
• Specific. State exactly what you want to
achieve, how you’re going to do it and
when you want to achieve it.
• Measurable. Tracking your progress is
easier if you can measure it. A process
goal might be to walk 30 minutes a day
or jog three miles a day. A similar outcome goal would be to lose 5 pounds
over the next three months.
• Attainable. Ask yourself whether your
goal is reasonable. Set a goal that you
have the time and resources to achieve.
• Relevant. Set goals that align with your
preferences, values and motivations.
Make sure they’re more than simply a
reflection of what you (or someone else)
think you should do.
• Time-limited. Set a date — or a series of
dates — by which you want to achieve
your goal. Again, setting smaller process
goals that build on each other is the key
for many people.
Play to your strengths and challenges
Set goals that take advantage of what you
do well and what you enjoy. If you know
you would never let a friend down, schedule
time with a walking partner. If you’re not
a morning person, steer clear of an earlymorning “fitness boot camp.”
16 My Weight Solution
More examples:
• You love to be outdoors. Your goal is a
Saturday-morning hike.
• You enjoy a bedtime treat. Your goal is to
replace that bowl of ice cream with a cup
of tasty herbal tea.
• You tend to eat everything on your plate.
Your goal is to use a smaller plate to
reduce your portion sizes.
Think about what’s important right now
If you’re like most people, you’re more likely
to put effort into something you care about
than something not connected to your life
and priorities. For example: You may know
that you need to improve your diet, but your
stress level is an even more-urgent concern.
By taking initial steps to reduce stress, you
may have more motivation and confidence to
tackle your diet.
Record your goals and refer to them often
One of the most effective ways to meet your
weight-loss goals is to write them down and
track your progress over time. During the
process of losing weight — and beyond —
periodically take stock of how you’re doing:
• Are you still motivated to lose weight?
Has your source of motivation changed?
• Have new barriers developed (see pages
58-61 for more on barriers)? How can you
overcome them?
• If you use tracking tools, do they work
for you? What other tools might work?
fruit ready when I’m hungry between meals.”
My outcome goal(s):
Example: “I would like to lose 10 pounds by spring.”
My process goal(s):
Example: “I will snack only on fruits and vegetables.”
My daily inspirational goals:
Example: “I will stay away from the snack machine today.”
Mayo Clinic 17
Live it! STrategy one
set realistic goals
How much should you lose?
Find your BMI
One common way to estimate your weight-related health risks is to determine your body mass index
(BMI). Elevated BMI can predict risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. If you don’t find
your exact weight on the chart, or if you’re working in metric equivalents, follow these steps:
➊ Multiply your height by your height in inches or in meters (not centimeters).
➋ Divide your weight (in pounds or kilograms) by the result of the first step.
➌ If you’re working with kilograms and meters, you now have your BMI.
➍ If you’re working with pounds and inches, multiply your results by 703 for your BMI.
Example: A 160-pound (72.6-kilo) person, 64 inches (1.63 meters) tall, has a BMI of 27.
Weight in pounds
There’s no right or wrong answer when it
comes to how much weight you should lose.
The important consideration is to set a goal
that is healthy and realistic. It all starts with
you and your health — and factors like your
body mass index (BMI).
BMI and waist size
For most people, BMI is a reasonably
accurate measure of body composition and
whether they’re at a healthy or unhealthy
weight. But it’s not perfect. For example,
muscle weighs more than fat, so some
athletes and other physically fit people
have high BMIs without health risks. In
contrast, some people may have a BMI in
the “healthy” range yet actually have a high
percentage of body fat.
Waist size indicates whether you carry extra
weight around your midsection. Like an
elevated BMI, a larger waist measurement
is associated with health risks such as heart
disease and diabetes.
To measure your waist, use a flexible
measuring tape. Find the highest point on
each hipbone and measure around your
body just above those points.
Normal weight
Minimal to slightly increased risk*
Increased risk
25 – 29.9
Increased risk
High risk
30 – 34.9
High risk
Very high risk
35 – 39.9
Very high risk
Very high risk
Extreme obesity
40 or over
Extremely high risk
Extremely high risk
Source: National Institutes of Health, 1998
Weight-related risk of disease
Waist circumference and BMI are both important predictors of disease risk.
Increased waist circumference alone can mean elevated risk even in people of normal weight. A BMI of
18.5 to 24.9 is considered a healthy range, but Asians with a BMI of 23 or more may have an increased
risk of health problems. If your BMI is higher, see below. If your BMI is less than 18.5, talk with your
doctor. You may be at a higher risk of health conditions associated with a low body weight.
body mass
index is
Your waist measurement is
Women: 35 inches or less
Women: > 35 inches
Men: 40 inches or less
Men: > 40 inches
*There is a slight increase in risk of diabetes and heart disease associated with “intermediate”
waist circumferences between 32 and 34 inches for women and 36 and 39 inches for men.
Source: National Institutes of Health, 2000
18 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 19
Serving goals
Food group
Know your serving goals
Live it! strategy Two
Follow the
With your daily calorie goal in hand, find the
number of servings from each food group you
should eat each day to meet your goal. You
can eat as many vegetables and fruits as you
like; they’re low in calories and packed with
nutrition. Note that some high-carbohydrate
vegetables such as corn and potatoes are
considered “carbs” when you are following
the pyramid. Check out the more-detailed
serving sizes in the back of this book.
Starting calorie goals
4 or more
4 or more
4 or more
3 or more
5 or more
5 or more
5 or more
5 or more
5 or more
5 or more
75 calories a day
as you like.
imums — eat as much
and vegetables are min
sweets are maximums.
*The servings for fruits
The recommended ser
How to count servings
The formula for weight loss is clear-cut: If
you eat fewer calories than you burn through
physical activity, you’ll lose weight. That
means decreasing calories. The Mayo Clinic
Healthy Weight Pyramid can help you learn
to manage your calories and still feel full.
Find your daily calorie goal
The chart below shows average calorie levels
needed for healthy weight loss, based on current weight and sex. You can adjust this goal
as you go along. For example, you might
consider adding more calories if you are very
active and you are losing more than a pound
or two a week.
Calorie goals
250 or less
251 to 300
301 or more
Count servings, not calories
Visual cue
1 cup broccoli
1 baseball
You won’t need to memorize a complete
inventory of food serving sizes or carry
measuring cups with you to meals. Use the
visual cues in the table at right — along with
the servings guide in the back of this book —
to estimate serving sizes on your own.
2 cups raw, leafy greens
2 baseballs
Visual cue
½ cup sliced fruit
Tennis ball
1 small apple or medium orange
Tennis ball
Visual cue
½ cup pasta or dry cereal
Hockey puck
Tip: Remember that a portion is not the same
as a serving. A portion is an amount of food
on your plate. A serving is a specific amount
of food that equals a certain number of
calories. Often the “portion” you eat
contains more than one “serving.”
½ small bagel
Hockey puck
1 slice whole-grain bread
Hockey puck
½ medium baked potato
Hockey puck
Visual cue
3 ounces of fish
Deck of cards
Use your “pyramid tracker” on page 23 to track
2-2½ ounces of meat
²∕³ deck of cards
1½-2 ounces of hard cheese
¹∕³ deck of cards
Visual cue
1½ teaspoons peanut butter
2 dice
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1 die
what you’ve eaten at each meal and in between.
You’ll soon start seeing patterns and discover
what you need to do to make the pyramid work
for you.
These visual cues can help you use the food lists found in the back of this book.
20 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 21
Live it! STrategy two
follow the pyramid
A closer look at the pyramid
My Pyramid Tracker
Let the pyramid be your guide to making
smart eating choices. It’s pretty simple to
use. The goal is to choose most of your food
from the groups at the base of the pyramid
and less from the top — and move more.
Start each day by setting a realistic, achievable goal. Then record what you eat and drink and your
Sweets. This group includes candies, cakes,
cookies, pies, doughnuts and other desserts,
as well as table sugar. With sweets, keep it
small; most are high in calories and fat without any nutrients.
Fats. Your body needs small amounts of
certain types of fats to function well, but
saturated fats and trans fats increase
your risk of heart disease. Focus on
good fats (see page 7).
Protein/Dairy. The best choices
are low in fat and calories,
such as fish, skinless
white-meat poultry, fatfree dairy foods, egg
whites and legumes
(lentils, beans and
peas) — which also happen to be
good sources of fiber.
Fruits. Almost all fruits fit into a healthy diet.
But whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits
without added sugar are the best choices.
They’re filling and packed with nutrients
and fiber. Limit fruit juices and dried fruits;
they have more calories and are less filling.
22 My Weight Solution
physical activity. Activity should be moderately intense and sustained for 10 minutes or more at a time.
A new way to th
ink about treat
Seventy-five ca
lories a day isn’
t much.
So consider th
inking of your “s
calories over th
e course of a
week. If you give
in to the
brownie on Mon
day, hold
off on any more
until the weeke
nd — or
even longer.
Carbohydrates. Most foods in this group
are grains or made from grains. Whole
grains are best; they’re higher in
fiber and other nutrients. Some
examples include whole-grain
cereal, whole-wheat bread,
whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal
and brown rice. Look for
the term whole as one of
the first ingredients
on the label.
Vegetables. They’re rich in nutrients and
fiber and most are low in calories and fat.
Focus on fresh vegetables; frozen or canned
without added fat or salt also are OK. And
try for more dark green, red and orange
varieties. Note that starchy, higher calorie
veggies such as corn and potatoes count as
carbohydrates when following the pyramid.
Type (aerobic,
ToDAy’S goAL:
record what you eat and drink in one day in the table below. Then track your total servings for that day by checking off the
circles in the pyramid at right. (you won’t use all the circles each day.) Put an “x” in a circle for each serving you eat in a
food group.
Number of servings
Food item
75 calories a day or 525
calories a week
Write in your
calories here.
reCorD your TArgeT NuMBer oF DAILy SerVINgS
For eACH FooD grouP Here:
V Vegetables
PD Protein/Dairy
F Fruits
Ft Fats
C Carbohydrates
S Sweets 75 calories/day
Mayo Clinic 23
Live it! STrategy two
follow the pyramid
Tips for using the pyramid
Now that you understand the basics of
“following the pyramid,” you can discover
more ways to make this new approach work
for you. It’s about awareness and planning.
• Plan each meal around vegetables and
fruits. Since they form the base of the
pyramid, start with them. Look for ways
to serve veggies and fruits whole, fresh
and in combination with other foods. Fill
half your plate with veggies; have fruit or
a salad on the side.
• Spread servings throughout the day.
And include at least one serving from
most food groups at each meal.
• If you’re hungry, EAT! Starving
yourself can be counterproductive and
set you up for overeating later. The
pyramid allows unlimited consumption
of vegetables and fruits, so focus on those
when you’re hungry.
• Make pleasure a priority. Losing weight
may require you to cut back on some of
your favorite foods, but don’t sacrifice
enjoyment. Be sure to include flavors,
colors and textures you enjoy.
• Plan by the week. It’s more efficient than
day to day. That way, you can also be
sure to have the right foods on hand.
Beverages — including alcohol — count
When considering calories, don’t forget to count the liquid form. Although some beverages, such as juice
and milk, contain important nutrients, they also have a lot of calories. Water is still the best choice when it
• Eat ‘real’ food. Limit or even
avoid processed foods, such as
many canned and most boxed and
convenience foods. Highly processed
foods often include unwanted fat, sugar,
calories and salt. Whole foods, including
most frozen fruit and vegetables, haven’t
been changed from their natural state
and are loaded with nutrients.
if you have a drink (much more than 75 calories), plan on fewer sweets the rest of the week. One drink
until you have what you think is about ½ cup.
Don’t use a measuring cup! Now pour the
cereal into a measuring cup. How close did
you come? Most people pour considerably
more than ½ cup, which is one serving. You
can try this exercise with cooked pasta or
• Count ‘add-ons’ in servings. Don’t forget
to include anything you put on or add to
your food — such as dressings and dips
for vegetables and fruits and cream, milk
or sugar in coffee or tea.
• Be flexible with yourself. Every food
doesn’t have to be a source of excellent
nutrition. The point is to choose foods
that promote good health and help you
lose weight most of the time.
comes to satisfying thirst and cutting the urge to snack. When drinking milk, choose skim.
What about alcohol? In the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, alcohol is in the sweets category. So
Try this exercise. Pour dry cereal into a bowl
other favorite foods.
Here are some other strategies for controlling
portion sizes:
DDEat slowly. When you eat too fast, your
brain doesn’t tell you that you’re full until
• Look for shortcuts. Buy pre-cut
veggies and fruits, precooked meats,
and shredded low-fat cheese for quick
healthy meals.
you’ve already overeaten.
DDDon’t eat directly from a container.
Seeing food on a plate or in a bowl gives
you a better sense of portion size.
DDFocus on your food. Reading, watching
5 ounces
of wine
120-130 calories
12 ounces of
regular beer
150-190 calories
1½ ounces of
80-proof liquor
95-110 calories
• Tomorrow is another day. If you didn’t
get enough veggies Monday, add extra
Tuesday and Wednesday. Try not to get
stuck on exact servings each day.
TV or working while you eat distracts you
and makes it easier to overeat.
DDServe smaller amounts. Take slightly
less than what you think you’ll eat. Using
a smaller plate or bowl makes less food
seem like more.
DDDon’t feel obligated to clean your plate.
Stop eating as soon as — or even before
— you feel satisfied.
24 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 25
Live it! STrategy two
follow the pyramid
How to eat more and lose weight
dense lunch
585 calories
How full you feel is determined by the
volume and weight of food — not by
the number of calories. If you choose
foods with low energy density — few
calories for their bulk — you can eat
more volume but consume fewer
calories because of two key factors:
DDWater. Most vegetables and fruits
Roast turkey breast (3 ounces)
contain a lot of water, which
sandwich on whole-wheat bread with
provides volume and weight but
low-fat cheese (1 ounce), lettuce and
few calories. For example, half of
tomatoes plus an apple, celery sticks,
a large grapefruit is 90 percent
vegetable soup (1 cup), whole-grain
water with just 50 calories.
crackers and water with lemon slice
DDFiber. The high fiber content in
High-energy-dense lunch
foods such as vegetables, fruits
595 calories
and whole grains adds bulk to
Bacon cheeseburger (thick patty)
your diet, so you feel full sooner.
640 calories
Fiber also takes longer to digest,
dense suppe
making you feel full longer. Adults
need about 25 to 35 grams of
fiber a day, but the average adult
consumes much less. Increase
your fiber gradually while you
increase the fluids in your diet.
Most high-fat foods, desserts,
candies and processed foods are
Whole-wheat spaghetti (1 cup) and
high in energy density — so a small
fat-free spaghetti sauce (1 cup) topped
volume has a lot of calories. If you
with broccoli, bell peppers, onions
choose your foods wisely, you can
and zucchini plus whole-grain roll, side
eat more volume but fewer calories.
salad (with 2 tablespoons fat-free
dressing), strawberries (1½ cups) with
High-energy-dense supper
fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt (½ cup)
646 calories
and water with lemon slice
Spaghetti (¾ cup) with cheese sauce (¾ cup)
26 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 27
Live it! STrategy two
follow the pyramid
Set yourself up for healthier choices
You’ll be more likely to stick with a healthy
diet if you have a plan for every meal and
snack. With the right ingredients on hand,
healthy meals come together from scratch
almost as fast as they do with processed,
higher calorie convenience foods.
Planning that very important breakfast and
packing healthy lunches and snacks help
you control what you take in all day. You can
even come up with a dining-out strategy in
advance to stick with your program.
In fact, planning ahead is one of your best
defenses against the urge to grab some chips
or a cookie when you need a break at work
or arrive home hungry.
Plan meals around the pyramid
Plan your menus using the Mayo Clinic
Healthy Weight Pyramid, using the daily
serving goals for each food group to guide
your decisions (see page 21).
• Plan multiple meals. It can be a timesaver (and it’s less costly) to plan menus
for an entire week instead of day to day.
• Adapt your menus to the seasons. Use
the freshest foods available for your
meals — asparagus, peas and cherries
in the spring; peaches, sweet corn and
tomatoes in midsummer. Shop your local
farmers markets for fresh produce.
28 My Weight Solution
• Be adventurous. Explore new cuisines.
Some intriguing ingredients — quinoa,
edamame, bok choy, bulgur — are as
healthy as they are delicious.
Willpower vs. a plan for success
You may think that you can reach a healthy
Instead of relying on your willpower (which is
weight if you simply exert enough willpower. You
almost never reliable), help yourself make healthy
just won’t eat those foods that cause you to gain
choices the easy choices. By planning ahead,
weight. This can, unfortunately, set you up to fail
you can rely on self-control instead of willpower.
as your willpower inevitably cracks. This is when
These examples show the difference:
• Go for health and convenience. Some
convenience foods are designed to be
healthy and lower in calories. A healthy
frozen entree or side dish is an option on
busy days. Read labels for calories, fat
and sodium. Stock healthy versions of
quick foods like instant brown rice.
many people give up: “I already broke the rules,
• Plan for leftovers. Making enough food
for two meals at once saves time.
• Look for shortcuts. Simplify your meal
prep and save time by buying pre-cut
vegetables and fruits, precooked meats,
shredded low-fat cheeses, packaged
salads, and frozen or canned vegetables.
There’s nothing quicker than fresh fruit.
But fruit canned in its own juice (not
sugary syrup) is also OK. Rinse canned
vegetables with water to remove excess
so I might as well keep eating.” The key is to set
yourself up for success by planning ahead.
Set up for success
I’ll buy that bag of chips for my family, but I just
won’t eat any of them.
I’ll pick up healthier snacks such as grapes, popcorn,
baby carrots and apples instead.
We’ll go to the buffet, but I’ll just have salad.
We’ll go to a restaurant that offers small portions and
low-fat or vegetarian items.
I’ll bring my favorite chocolate dessert for my
co-workers, but I won’t have any.
I’ll bring a tasty healthy dessert for my co-workers,
so that I can have some, too.
• Keep a list of simple menu ideas.
Recipes that include common staples and
take 20 minutes or less come in handy on
days when you’re rushed.
Mayo Clinic 29
Live it! STrategy two
follow the pyramid
Be a smart shopper
These strategies will help ensure that you
have the right foods to follow your healthyeating plan.
Take inventory
Use menus you’ve developed as part of your
healthy-eating plan to guide your shopping.
Take an inventory of your staples, such as lowfat milk, fresh fruits and whole grains.
Make a list
A list makes your shopping trip more
efficient and helps you avoid impulse buys.
But don’t let your list prevent you from
looking for or trying new healthy foods.
When making your list, use your weight-loss
menus as your guide. Make sure your list
includes healthy and convenient snack foods.
To make things go faster, organize your list
according to where foods are located at your
favorite store.
Shop the perimeter of the store
for fresh foods
The fresh produce, dairy case, poultry and
seafood sections of most grocery stores are
all located on the perimeter. That’s where to
focus your shopping when using the Mayo
Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid. Fresh foods
are generally better than ready-to-eat foods
because you can control any ingredients that
you add.
Fruits and vegetables
DDFresh fruits
DDCanned fruits (packed in their own juice or wat
DDFrozen fruits
DDFresh vegetables
DDPre-cut fresh vegetables
DDFrozen vegetables (no sauce)
DDSalad in a bag
DDFat-free tomato sauce
DD100% fruit juice, including calcium-fortified
(but limit juice intake to 4 ounces
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
It’s harder to resist buying higher fat, higher
calorie snack items when you’re hungry. So
set yourself up for success and shop after
you’ve eaten a good meal. If you do find
yourself shopping on an empty stomach,
drink some water or buy a piece of fruit to
munch on.
Read nutrition labels
Check nutrition labels for serving size,
calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Remember, even low-fat and fat-free foods
can pack a lot of calories. Don’t be fooled.
The label will list calories, fat, sodium and
cholesterol for one serving — but it’s always
tempting to eat more than one serving. Make
sure to compare similar products so that you
can choose the healthiest options.
a day)
DDFat-free or 1% milk
DDLow-fat or fat-free yogurt
DDLow-fat or fat-free cheese
Whole grains
DDWhole-grain breakfast cereal
DDRice (brown, wild, blends)
DDWhole-grain bread
DDWhole-grain pita bread
DDWhole-grain pasta
DDLow-fat refried beans
DDBlack, kidney or navy beans
DDLow-sodium water-packed tuna
DDOther fish with omega-3 fatty acids
DDSkinless white-meat poultry
DDSoy cheese
How to get the most out of
reading nutrition labels
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 16 Crackers (31 g)
Servings Per Container About 9
a Check the serving size
Amount Per Serving
How many servings are in the container?
Calories 170
a Check the calories in one serving
Calories from Fat 55
Serving sizes can be deceptively small;
Saturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 1 g
multiply calories per serving by how much
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
you’re really likely to eat.
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
a Check the % Daily Value*
• 5% or less is low
• 20% or more is high
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6 g†
Sodium 270 mg
Total Carbohydrate 21 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 3 g
Protein 8 g
*Percent Daily Value (DV) in one serving is based on a
2,000-calorie diet for adults. For example, the recommended
goal for dietary fiber is 25 grams, so 1 gram is 4% DV. Your DV
may be higher or lower, depending on your calorie needs.
Adapted from FDA, Center for Food Safety and
Applied Nutrition, 2010
30 My Weight Solution
in orange.
Vitamin A 4%
Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 20%
Iron 4%
enough of
shown in
Keep intake of saturated fat and trans fat as low as
possible. All fats are high in calories.
Mayo Clinic 31
Live it! STrategy two
follow the pyramid
Practice healthy cooking
Healthy cooking doesn’t mean you have to
become a gourmet chef or invest in special
cookware. Sometimes, using healthier cooking
techniques is quicker and more convenient.
➊ Try these healthier cooking methods.
• Use oil sparingly. Choose olive, canola
or peanut oils.
• Use nonstick cookware. Or try
cooking sprays, low-sodium broth, water
or wine instead of oil or butter.
• Try baking. It’s a healthier way to cook
seafood, poultry and lean meat. You can
even bake vegetables (splashed with a bit
of olive oil) and fruit.
• Learn how to braise. Brown meat or
poultry in a pan on top of the stove,
and then slowly cook it covered with a
small amount of water or broth. Use the
leftover cooking liquid for a flavorful,
nutrient-rich sauce.
• Grill or broil. Fat will drip away.
• Add vegetables. Chop them and mix into
lean ground beef, for example, to reduce
the portion size of the meat.
• Poach. This works especially well with
fish, where you gently simmer in low-fat
broth or wine and fresh herbs.
• Roast. For poultry, seafood and meat,
place a rack inside a roasting pan so that
the fat can drip away while food cooks in
the oven.
• Saute. It’s a quick way to cook small or
thin pieces of food.
32 My Weight Solution
• Steam. Place your food in a perforated
basket suspended above simmering
liquid. Add seasonings to the water and
flavor vegetables or meats as they cook.
• Stir-fry. You can quickly cook food
using only a small amount of oil or
cooking spray.
➍ Find tasty alternatives to meat.
• Make meat-free entrees, such as wholewheat pasta with tomato sauce and lots
of vegetables, red beans and rice, split
pea or lentil soup, or three-bean chili.
• Try a veggie burger or veggie hot dog.
• Stir-fry tofu or scramble it like an egg.
• Try textured soy or vegetable protein.
➋ Find new ways to add flavor.
• Season foods with a variety of herbs,
spices and low-fat condiments.
• Top chicken breast with fresh salsa.
• Make meats more flavorful with low-fat
marinades or spices, such as bay leaf,
chili powder, dry mustard, garlic, ginger,
oregano or thyme.
• To bring out the sweetness in baked
goods, use a bit more vanilla, cinnamon
or nutmeg.
➎ Don’t forget about fish.
• Two servings a week (about 3 ounces
each) of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
can reduce your risk of heart disease as
part of a heart-healthy diet.
• Anchovies, bluefish, herring, salmon,
sardines, trout (rainbow and lake), light
canned tuna and whitefish* are good
• Broil, grill, bake or steam your fish for
the healthiest benefits.
➌ Choose lean meat and smaller portions.
• Use lean meat, poultry and fish in
amounts no larger than a deck of cards.
• Trim all visible fat from meat before
cooking and drain off all fat drippings
after cooking.
• Focus on main dishes that include a
balance of vegetables and meat, such
as soups, stews, casseroles and stir-fry.
Serve meat dishes over brown rice or
whole-wheat pasta instead of alone.
• Choose beef with the least marbling; ask
for cuts from the round and loin. Lean
ground beef, turkey or chicken breast
also are good choices.
• If you eat pork, choose lean cuts, such as
pork loin and tenderloin.
*Due to mercury levels, pregnant women, nursing
mothers and young children should avoid shark,
swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish (golden bass
or golden snapper) and eat no more than 6 ounces
of albacore (white) or bluefin tuna a week.
Get a supply of chopped veggies
ready on Sunday. Then add them
to lean ground beef or into ovenbaked meals on busy weekdays.
You’ll increase your veggie intake
and decrease the portion size of
meat in your meals.
Mayo Clinic 33
Live it! STrategy two
follow the pyramid
Eating out: Test your habits
Adapting recipes
If the recipe calls for
Try substituting
DDFor sandwiches, substitute tomato slices, ketchup or mustard.
DDFor stove-top cooking, saute food in broth or small amounts of
healthy oil, like olive, canola or peanut, or use cooking spray.
DDIn marinades, substitute diluted fruit juice, wine or balsamic vinegar.
DDIn cakes or bars, replace half the fat or oil with the same amount of
applesauce, prune purée or commercial fat substitute.
DDTo avoid dense, soggy or flat baked goods, don’t substitute oil for
butter or shortening, and don't substitute diet, whipped or tub-style
margarine for regular margarine.
DDKeep it lean. In soup, chili or stir-fry, replace most of the meat with
Whole milk (regular
or evaporated)
Whole egg
(yolk and white)
Sour cream
Cream cheese
beans or vegetables. As an entree, keep it to no more than the size
of a deck of cards — load up on vegetables.
DDFat-free or 1% milk, or evaporated skim milk.
DD¼ cup egg substitute or two egg whites for breakfast or in baked
White flour
and toppings. Note that fat-free, low-fat and light varieties do not
work well for baking.
half without affecting texture or taste, but use no less than ¼ cup of
sugar for every cup of flour to keep items moist.
DDReplace half or more of white flour with whole-grain pastry flour or
regular whole-grain flour.
DDUse herbs (1 tablespoon fresh = 1 teaspoon dried = ¼ teaspoon
34 My Weight Solution
➊ How often do you eat out?
powder). Add toward the end of cooking and use sparingly — you
can always add more.
DDSalt is required when baking yeast-leavened items. Otherwise you
may reduce salt by half in cookies and bars. Not needed when
boiling pasta.
On occasion
Once or twice a week
Three or four times a week
Every day or almost every day
The special may not be the healthiest item.
Items listed as healthy or that are prepared
or served in a healthier manner tend to be
your best bet.
➍ How often do you order an appetizer?
The more you eat out, the more important it
is to have a plan, make wise selections and
not be tempted by foods that aren’t part of
your plan.
➋ Where do you generally eat out?
Appetizers often aren’t the healthiest items
on the menu, and they tend to be a source of
hidden fat and calories.
DDFat-free, low-fat or light varieties in dips, spreads, salad dressings
DDIn most baked goods, you can reduce the amount of sugar by oneSugar
Eating out is convenient, efficient and — let’s face it — fun. By adopting some healthy habits,
you can enjoy eating out without packing on extra pounds. Get started by assessing your
restaurant habits with these questions:
Restaurants that specialize in
healthy foods
Restaurants that include a mix of
foods, including healthy entrees
Restaurants with a few healthy items
Restaurants without any healthy
items, except salad
Where you eat out can make a big difference
in whether you’re able to eat healthfully and
stick to your meal plan.
➌ What do you generally order?
a. One of the items marked as healthy
on the menu
b. A food that appears to be somewhat
c. A favorite food prepared or served
more healthfully
d. Whatever is on special
b. Once in a while
c. Occasionally, in place of a meal
d. Frequently or always
➎ How do you deal with large portions?
Take half of it home in a carryout bag
Split a meal with someone else
Stop eating only when you feel full
Eat it all
Portion sizes in restaurants — even lunch
size — are typically too large. It’s better to
share or ask for
a carryout bag
than to rely on
If most of your
answers are:
yourself to stop
• a and b, you’
ve developed go
eating when
habits when dini
ng out, or
you’re served a
you’re on the righ
t track.
large amount.
• c and d, thin
k about how yo
can improve your
habits. Review
the tips on
pages 36-37.
Mayo Clinic 35
Live it! STrategy two
follow the pyramid
Tips for dining out
With all the choices for dining out, it’s
hard not to take advantage of the fun and
convenience of restaurant food once in a
while. But eating out a lot is a quick way to
put on pounds. Make the most of dining out
in a healthy way with these tips:
Keep hunger under control — eat.
• Don’t skip a meal on the day you’re
going out to eat.
• Eat a light, healthy snack (such as a piece
of fruit or a glass of fat-free milk) an hour
before your meal to avoid eating too
much at the restaurant.
Don’t give up
Cut out or cut back on the condiments.
Approach buffets with a plan.
• Taste your food before adding salt,
butter, sauces and dressings.
• Order sauces and dressings on
the side; even small amounts
add up.
• Substitute healthier condiments. Use mustard
instead of mayonnaise. Use pepper
or lemon juice in
of salt.
• Don’t be tempted to get more than your
money’s worth by overfilling your plate.
Instead, survey the entire buffet line and
choose healthier options.
• Make salad your first course, with plenty
of veggies, fruit, and no-fat or low-fat
dressing. Then go back for the entree
or just eat more salad.
Choose restaurants that offer variety.
• Choose a restaurant that offers lots of
variety, with low-fat options.
• Call the restaurant ahead of time to ask
about healthy menu items. Or go online
to check its website to see if nutrition
information is posted.
Control fat.
• Order baked or broiled. Avoid fried.
• Ask for smaller portions of fatty foods —
such as meats and fatty sauces — or ask
for substitutions.
it’ll help you cut calories.
• Eat slowly for better digestion. You’ll feel
full before overeating.
• Don’t gulp your food; chew thoroughly.
• Order food that requires work and slows
your eating, such as crab legs.
• Share your meal with a companion.
Order beverages with few
Order more plant-based foods.
• Try an exotic fruit — kiwi or papaya for
example — for variety.
• Order your favorite vegetables, but don’t
smother them in rich, high-fat dressings
or cream sauces.
• Order items that include whole-grain
foods to get your fiber.
Mind your manners —
Get the facts
or no calories.
• Order water or sparkling water with a
twist of lemon — it’s healthy, filling and
has no calories.
• For a hot drink, try black decaf coffee or
hot tea, minus sugar and other extras.
Many chain rest
including fast-f
ood franchises
post their men
us and nutritio
information on
their websites.
So before you go
, you can look
for healthy opti
ons and decide
what to order.
 Avoid app
especially bre
or fried.
36 My Weight Solution
ups, not cream
Go for broth-b
When you find yo
caught in a situ
ation with
mostly unhealth
y options,
don’t throw in th
e towel.
Instead, eat th
e healthiest
food you can fin
d and do your
best to contro
l portion size.
• Be aware that alcoholic beverages may
have more calories than you’d expect,
and alcohol may stimulate your appetite
and weaken your willpower.
Wait before ordering dessert.
• Finish the main dish. By the time you’re
done, you may not want dessert.
• If you do order dessert, split it with a
friend or take half of it home.
Control portion size.
• Leave food on your plate.
• If you’re tempted to clean your plate, ask
your server to remove it.
• Take a carryout bag — it gives you two
meals for the price of one.
Order your salad
dressings on the
side; skip crouto
and cheese.
 Skip the brea
d, or
choose whole-gra
Pick veggies as d
your side inst
of fries, chips
or salads with
Mayo Clinic 37
Live it! strategy three
Burn calories
by being
The fastest way to lose weight is to reduce
calorie intake and burn more calories with
daily physical activity. The benefits of this
powerful combination include more than
weight loss. Physical activity improves your
overall well-being and helps prevent or
manage heart disease, high blood pressure,
stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, some types
of cancer and depression. If you’ve never
Wherever you are, start!
Stick with what motivates you
For most people, getting started on a more
active lifestyle is the hardest part. Here are
some things to consider as you embark on
your plan to get more active:
When it comes to physical activity, by all
means go for enjoyment. (See page 42 for a
starter list of ideas.) Here are some examples
of how to make your routine work for you:
• Start with easy activities to avoid burnout or injury.
• Gradually build up your endurance.
• Schedule specific times to be active —
and make moving a priority.
• Track your progress.
• Find a buddy to walk or work out with.
• Get the support of family who can help
you rally on days you’re feeling sluggish.
• Set weekly goals and gently evaluate
what worked and what didn’t.
• Be realistic and fit in activity when it
works for you. If you aren’t a morning
person, exercising at 4:30 a.m. isn’t going
to work. Try right after work instead.
Focus on activity and exercise
All physical activity — including mowing
the lawn, playing ball with the kids or taking
the stairs at work — burns calories. More
structured exercise, such as brisk walking,
swimming laps and lifting weights, can help
you burn even more calories. The key is
making a plan that is varied and lively.
started down a healthier path.
38 My Weight Solution
nds off, move!
Studies show th
at people who lo
more than 30 po
unds and keep
it off for five ye
ars are physical
active an hour ea
ch day. The mos
common activity
is walking. That
may sound like
a lot of time if yo
haven’t been ph
ysically active,
you can work yo
ur way up.
Talk to your doctor before increasing your physical activity if:
DDYou are middle-aged or older
DDYou are significantly overweight
DDYou have been inactive for several years
DDYou smoke or have a heart condition or other chronic
health problem
been physically active, even a brisk walk
a few times a week is a great way to get
To keep the pou
• Pick activities that help you build a
healthy and fun habit for a lifetime.
• Remember that 10 minutes of activity
three times a day has many of the same
benefits of a 30-minute session.
• When in doubt: Walk!
DDAre taking medicines that might need to be adjusted
with increased activity
Mayo Clinic 39
Live it! STrategy three
burn calories by being active
How you can step into fitness
When it comes to getting more active, take it
one day at a time and add more challenge as
you’re ready.
Walk for fitness and weight loss
Follow these tips to start a walking program
and prevent pain and injuries:
• Start slow and easy. Unless you’re a
seasoned walker, give yourself several
weeks to work up to a schedule of 30
minutes or more five days a week.
• Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable
walking shoes that fit well along with
loosefitting clothing and layers to adjust
to any change in temperature.
Try this 10-week
walking schedule
• Warm up. Spend five to 10 minutes
walking slowly (or walk in place) to
reduce your risk of injury.
• Stretch. After warming up, stretch your
muscles for about five minutes before
• Maintain good posture. Hold your head
high, swing your arms naturally, and
gently tighten your stomach muscles,
with feet shoulder-width apart.
• Assess your intensity. If you’re so out of
breath that you can’t carry on a conversation, you’re probably walking too fast
and should slow down.
• Track your progress. Track how many
steps or miles you walk and how long it
takes — a pedometer is a great tool.
• Make walking fun. Plan several different
routes for variety. Listen to your favorite
music. Invite friends or family to join you.
This 10-week walking schedule
can start you on the path to
better fitness and health.*
The three pillars
of fitness
Balance your physical
activity routine
To get the best results, your routine should
include all of the following types of exercise.
Aerobic or cardiovascular (cardio) activity is
a great choice for weight loss. Aerobic means
“with oxygen.” These activities increase your
breathing and heart rate and ultimately help
you use oxygen more efficiently. Aerobic
exercise increases your stamina and burns
more calories than other types of activity.
Examples of aerobic activities:
• Walking
• Jogging
• Bicycling
• Swimming
• Dancing
• Exercising with fitness equipment, such
as an elliptical machine or treadmill
• Water aerobics
• Rowing
• Cross-country skiing
*Before starting this walking plan, you may need to talk with your doctor.
Suggested times do not include warm-up and cool-down time.
For heart and
lung health
and to lose
weight or
maintain a
healthy weight
At least 30
minutes on
ost days;
more if trying
to lose weight
or maintain
weight loss
For better
and joint
A few minutes before
and after
For bone
and to get
and leaner
Two or
three days
a week,
but not on
consecutive days
Make sure to warm up for five to 10
minutes before your aerobic activity by
doing a low-intensity version, such as
walking slowly before a brisk walk or jog.
After your aerobic activity, cool down for
five to 10 minutes to allow your heart rate to
return to normal. It’s a good idea to stretch
your muscles after cooling down.
Stretching and flexibility
Stretching is an important part of any
exercise program. Regular stretching:
• Improves range of motion of your joints
• Improves circulation
• Helps your posture
• Helps relieve stress by relaxing muscles
• May help prevent injury by maximizing
joint range of motion
Strength training: Not just for athletes
Improving your muscle strength can boost metabolism, relieve arthritis pain, improve balance and
Week 1
15 minutes,
2 days
30 minutes
a week
Week 2
15 minutes,
3 days
45 minutes
a week
40 My Weight Solution
Week 3
20 minutes,
3 days
60 minutes
a week
Week 4
25 minutes,
3 days
75 minutes
a week
relieve depression symptoms — all for a relatively small time investment. Just two to three workouts
Week 5-6
30 minutes,
3 days
90 minutes
a week
Week 7-8
Week 9-10
a week provide significant benefits. And for most people, a single set of repetitions with a weight that
30 minutes,
4 days
120 minutes
a week
30 minutes,
5 days
150 minutes
a week
the different parts of the body — your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders and arms. Heavy
tires the muscles after 12 to 15 repetitions is enough to build strength. Choose activities that work all
gardening, lifting weights, push-ups, sit-ups and working with resistance bands can help keep
variety in your routine.
Mayo Clinic 41
Live it! STrategy three
burn calories by being active
n when you enjoy
Exercise is more fu d help getting
what you’re doing. ese options.
started? Consider
Choose activities you enjoy
Go solo
c Bicycling: stationary or outdoors
c Canoeing, kayaking or rowing
c Elliptical training
c Horseback riding
c Jogging or running
c Jumping rope
c Skating: ice or in-line (rollerblading)
c Skiing: cross-country, downhill or ski machine
c Stair climbing
Take a class
c Martial arts
c Spinning (indoor cycling)
c Strength training
c Tai chi
c Water aerobics
Bring a friend
c Dancing
c Frisbee golf
c Table tennis
c Tandem bicycling
c Video games that require
physical activity
Be safe and active
Most fitness injuries result from trying to do
too much too soon. You can protect yourself
as you start to burn those extra calories.
Start with less intense activity before
attempting more intense exercise. To build
up, increase your exercise in this order:
• Frequency — number of days a week
• Duration — length of activity session
• Intensity — how hard you’re working
If you’re interested in burning even more
calories and are physically capable of the
effort, higher intensity exercise may help.
This involves repeated bursts of intense
activity separated by short recovery periods,
such as walking or cycling fast for several
minutes, then slowing down and repeating.
Strengthen your core
The area around your trunk and pelvis is
known as your “core.” Because virtually all
movement in your body originates here, it’s
important to keep your core strong.
When you have good core stability, the
muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and
abdomen work in harmony and provide
support to your spine.
Find a team
c Hockey: field or ice
c Ultimate Frisbee
Abdominal bridges and planks are classic
core exercises. Try crunches on a fitness ball
for added challenge. Since body position
and alignment are important for these types
of exercises, consult a trained professional
before you start.
Warning signs: When to stop
Moderate activity should cause you to breathe
faster and feel like you’re working. Mild muscle
soreness following exercise is common. This is
especially true when you are trying something
new. But pain during exercise can signal an
impending injury. If you have any of the following
signs and symptoms during exercise, stop and
seek medical help immediately:
42 My Weight Solution
DDChest pain or tightness
DDDizziness or faintness
DDPain in an arm or your jaw
DDSevere shortness of breath
DDExcessive fatigue
DDBursts of very rapid or slow heart rate
DDAn irregular heartbeat
DDSevere joint or muscle pain
DDJoint swelling
Mayo Clinic 43
Live it! STrategy three
burn calories by being active
Boost your everyday activity
The key to keeping physically active is
making it convenient. Whether at work or on
the road, plan ahead how you’ll squeeze in
all the activity you can get.
To fit physical activity into your home life:
• Wake up early. Get up 30 minutes
earlier than you normally do. Use the
time to walk on your treadmill or take a
brisk walk around the neighborhood.
• Make household chores count. Mop the
floor, scrub the tub, mow the lawn with a
push mower or do other chores at a pace
fast enough to get your heart pumping.
• Be active while watching TV. Use hand
weights, ride a stationary bike or stretch
during your favorite shows. Or take
advantage of video exercise technology
like fitness or dance games.
• Involve the whole family. Take group
walks before or after dinner. Play catch.
Ride your bikes.
• Get your dog into the act. Take daily
walks with Fido. If you don’t have a dog,
offer to walk your neighbor’s dog. (Or
get your neighbor out, too!)
To fit in more physical activity
while you’re on the job:
Calories burned in 1 hour
Calorie expenditure for a variety of activities varies widely depending on
the type of exercise, intensity level and individual. If you weigh less than 160
pounds, your calories burned would be somewhat less than shown, and if you
• Make the most of your commute. Walk
or bike to work. If you ride the bus, get
off a few blocks early and walk the rest of
the way.
weigh more than 240 pounds, calories burned would be somewhat more.
(one-hour duration)
Weight of person and calories burned
160 pounds
(73 kilograms)
200 pounds
(91 kilograms)
240 pounds
(109 kilograms)
• Schedule physical activity as an
appointment. Don’t change your
plans for physical activity unless you
absolutely have to — this is important
to your health.
Aerobics, low impact
Aerobics, water
Basketball game
Bicycling, < 10 mph, leisure
• Take the stairs. If you have a meeting on
another floor, get off the elevator a few
floors early and use the stairs. Better yet,
skip the elevator entirely.
Dancing, ballroom
Football, touch, flag, general
Golfing, carrying clubs
Ice skating
Jogging, 5 mph
Racquetball, casual, general
Rope jumping
Rowing, stationary
Running, 8 mph
Skiing, cross-country
Skiing, downhill
Softball or baseball
Stair treadmill
Swimming, laps
Tennis, singles
Walking, 2 mph
Walking, 3.5 mph
• Take fitness breaks. Rather than
hanging out in the lounge with coffee
or a snack, take a short walk.
• Start a lunchtime walking group with
your co-workers. The regular routine
and the support of your co-workers may
help you stick with the program.
• If you travel for work, stay physically
active. Choose a hotel that has fitness
facilities or just get out and walk when
you have the chance.
Based on Ainsworth BE, et al., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2000
44 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 45
Bonus section:
How to stick with
your commitment
You’ve learned how to set goals and make
a plan for healthier eating and burning
more calories. You’ve discovered the value
of tracking your progress and you’ve made
adjustments as you go along. Now, how do
you keep it up?
Even with the best of intentions, many
people stay on a diet for only a week
or two before giving up. Learning new
habits takes more than willpower — it
takes a commitment to change. It requires
ongoing inspiration and motivation. It means
picking yourself up when you’ve fallen off
track. The following pages are designed to
help you refine your change strategies, get
beyond the occasional lapse and keep up
your motivation.
With a little help, you can
keep up your resolve, enlist
support, solve problems
and get back on track
when you have a lapse.
Change behaviors
Studies of human behavior have uncovered
some tested approaches to adopting new
habits. You can be your own coach as you
try some of these strategies for “changing for
good.” In the pages that follow, you’ll learn
about four methods to try for yourself. If one
doesn’t work for you, move on to another.
Or combine aspects of several methods until
change starts to come naturally.
As always, be patient with yourself as you
learn more about how you approach and
respond to change.
Change your mind
To succeed at weight loss, you’ll need to
check your inner thoughts for patterns that
46 My Weight Solution
sabotage your efforts. Negative self-talk,
stress, inflexibility, “all-or-nothing thinking”
— many people are surprised to find that
their inner voice works against their efforts.
You can “unlearn” these habits and switch to
new ways of thinking that strengthen your
resolve and move you toward your goals.
Overcome challenges
We all experience setbacks when embarking
on a weight-loss program. So learn to expect
them! And be prepared in advance with
tricks and methods for moving beyond them.
This section of your book is full of tools and
ideas for revisiting your goals, brainstorming
solutions to problems, overcoming barriers
and breaking through plateaus.
Stay connected
We’re social beings. And our friends, coworkers and family have a major influence
on our habits. So when the going gets
tough, it’s important to surround yourself with people who can help. A support
network not only energizes your weight-loss
journey but keeps you accountable when
you can’t do so for yourself.
Keeping friends and family involved in your
healthier lifestyle has the added benefit of
encouraging them to adopt healthier habits.
Ready to learn more? Read on!
Change behaviors
To lose weight, you may need to change
habits you’ve developed over many years —
often without thinking about them. It may
feel like trying to move a mountain. It can
be discouraging when cravings get the best
of you or when you can’t seem to stick with
your physical activity goals.
Go easy on yourself as you strive to make
big lifestyle changes. It takes time for new
habits to feel natural. But you can do it if you
keep a positive attitude, stay committed and
focus on small, doable changes.
Below are four approaches to changing
behaviors. Choose one that makes sense for
you. If that doesn’t work, think about trying
a different approach. You’ll find many ideas
in the bonus section that follows.
ABC approach
Heading off problems before they develop
is the crux of this approach. A stands for
antecedent, B stands for behavior and C
stands for consequence. Most behaviors have
an antecedent — or cause. And causes lead
to consequences. By addressing antecedents
(causes) first, you can prevent unwanted
consequences. You might decide not to buy
ice cream, because keeping it in the freezer
(antecedent) leads you to eat most or all of
it in one sitting (behavior), which disrupts
your weight program (consequence).
48 My Weight Solution
How to make
new habits last
All of us approach the
process of personal
change a little differently.
But anyone can take
a cue from these key
principles as you work to
adopt new habits:
Build confidence. Focus
on strategies that play to
your strengths and your
skills. Consider how you
have succeeded in the
past and build your plan
from there.
Create a routine. An eating or activity schedule
can create a better sense
of control. Make sure your
schedule is one that truly
works for your life and not
one you can follow only
Distraction approach
This is a way to change unhealthy eating
habits by focusing your attention on something else when food cravings start. To use
this approach, when you feel a craving
coming on, remind yourself it will last for 20
minutes at most. Then do something — call a
friend, read a book, revisit your goals, take a
walk — anything that will distract you until
the feeling passes.
Focus on what you’re
adding to your life. And try
not to fixate on what you’re
giving up. Recognize and
celebrate success as you
notice even the smallest
positive changes in how
you look and feel.
Confrontation approach
This approach to behavior change requires
that you confront yourself mentally about
the negative impact of your behavior. For
example: If you’re craving cookies, think
about the unnecessary calories and fat you’ll
be consuming — how tired and sluggish
you’ll feel afterward. Remind yourself this
isn’t what you want to do with your life.
Make your program your
own. Take a day off from
exercise, or enjoy one of
your favorite foods once
in a while. The more you
make your program work
for you, the less likely you
are to rebel against it.
Shaping approach
Try changing your behavior gradually, one
step at a time. Instead of eliminating evening
snacks altogether, start with a rule of no
snack one night a week. Increase that to two
nights a week. Eventually you might be able
to scale back to a snack one evening a week.
As you succeed with step-by-step changes,
you’ll build confidence and start fueling
even more successes.
Mayo Clinic 49
Change your mind
The best motivation comes from within. But
several common problems can sidetrack
your intentions, sap your motivation and
keep you from reaching your goals.
Negative beliefs and self-talk
The internal dialog you have with yourself
influences your actions. Thoughts such as
“I’ll never lose weight” or “I’m no good at
exercising” can weaken your self-esteem and
stall your progress. Replace these thoughts
with positive statements. Instead of: “I can’t
stick with an exercise program,” tell yourself:
“I can meet one realistic goal today.”
Unrealistic expectations
Many people imagine that losing weight will
solve all their problems. Your life will likely
change with weight loss — but probably not
in all the ways you imagine. Losing weight
doesn’t guarantee a better social life or more
satisfying job. Keep your expectations
focused on those very real benefits like more
energy and higher self-esteem.
Words such as always, never or must place
undue pressure on you. Telling yourself
you’ll never eat chocolate again or you must
walk two miles a day can lead to guilt-ridden
lapses. Be flexible. Treat yourself now and
then in ways that make sense — when you’re
out to dinner with friends, not when you’re
feeling sad.
50 My Weight Solution
All-or-nothing thinking
Emotional eating
One setback doesn’t mean failure. If you eat
too much one day, you haven’t blown your
plan. Counteract this kind of thinking with
moderation — no “good” and “bad” foods,
for example, and it’s OK to have dessert once
in a while. Remind yourself you can get back
on track tomorrow.
Many people turn to food for comfort when
they’re dealing with problems or to suppress
negative feelings, which can lead to eating
too much, especially high-calorie, sweet,
salty and fatty foods.
Depression and anxiety
You can learn to separate food from mood.
Accept occasional lapses without judgment
and try some of these steps:
Disorders such as depression and anxiety
can make it difficult to lose weight. If you
have signs of a mood disorder — sleeping
more or less than usual or feeling down a lot
of the time — talk to your doctor about your
symptoms and possible treatment options.
When you’re faced with stress, you may
overeat to ease your anxiety. How to cope?
• Manage your time by planning, pacing
and prioritizing your activities.
• Learn to say no to new responsibilities.
• Set aside one night each week for fun;
take a day off with no set plans.
• Organize work and living spaces so that
you know where things are.
• Keep up your daily physical activity.
• Learn to delegate responsibility.
• Practice relaxation techniques, such as
deep breathing and meditation.
• Have a good laugh.
• Seek professional help if necessary.
• Soothe yourself with healthier “comfort”
food alternatives like a bowl of tomato
soup or a cup of tea.
• Distract yourself from eating, call a
friend, run an errand or take a walk.
• Monitor your mood; learn to distinguish
true hunger from emotional eating.
• When you feel down, try to replace your
negative thoughts with positive ones.
DDPhysical factors. Does
skipping breakfast cause
you to lose control of your
eating? When you’re tired,
do you turn to junk food
for energy?
DDFoods. Are there some
DDActivities. When you
watch TV or read, do
you always have a
snack at hand? Do
you eat at your desk
while you work or
while you’re preparing
foods that you can’t eat
in moderation? Do you
find that the sight or
smell of certain foods
tempts you to overeat?
DDTime of day. Are
there certain times of
the day when you’re
more susceptible to
DDSocial situations. Do
DDEmotions. Do certain
feelings cause
you to snack —
loneliness, stress
or anxiety?
What are your
eating triggers?
Identifying situations that cause
you trouble can help you develop
strategies to overcome them.
Track these items in your food
record or journal to become more
aware of your patterns.
you eat more when
you’re around certain
people? Do you
snack anytime your
partner does?
Mayo Clinic 51
Answer these questions to assess how mindfully (or mindlessly) you’re eating.
Be mindful:
Most of us find ourselves in the
habit of mindless eating — eating
on the run or in front of the TV,
eating when bored or distracted, or
eating just because the food is there.
This unconscious eating can often
lead to an equally unconscious,
creeping weight gain.
The antidote to mindless eating is
mindful eating. This approach to
eating and weight loss stems from
the practice called mindfulness — a
state of being aware in the present
moment in a particular way: on
purpose and without judgment.
Mindfulness pulls you out of your
habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
Mindful eating allows you to notice
each bite or sip you take. It helps
focus your senses on exploring,
savoring and tasting your food. It
puts you in touch with your eating triggers and helps you become
more conscious of what and how
much you eat and drink.
Savor every moment
How mindful are you?
➊ What else are you doing while
DDMindful eating means being fully aware of
you’re eating?
what you’re doing. Pay attention to your
a. Watching a movie or TV
breathing and how your body feels as you
b. Reading
start to eat. Enjoy each bite, appreciating the
c. Preparing food
sensory qualities of the food.
d. Sitting at the table and focusing on eating
➍ How do you know when you’ve
DDEating while you do other things can be
eaten enough?
distracting and lead to eating more calories
a. When I feel so full I can't eat more
than you intended to. You may even begin to
b. When I’ve cleaned my plate
feel the need to eat whenever you do these
c. When my body says to stop
activities. Break the link — enjoy your food
d. I don’t know
“mindfully,” without distraction.
DDEat slowly and stop before you’re full. Try
➋ How long does it generally take
putting down your fork periodically. Breathe
you to eat a meal?
and stay relaxed as you tune in to your body’s
a. Less than five minutes
signals. It may take some time to learn to be
b. Five to 10 minutes
mindful of the difference between eating
c. 10 to 20 minutes
because you are truly hungry and eating for
d. More than 20 minutes
other reasons like boredom or stress.
DDThe longer it takes you to finish a meal, the
➎ How do you respond when you make
an eating choice that wasn’t OK?
more time your senses can take to fully experience your meal — to feel the fork in your
hand, to notice the aromas, textures and
a. Frustrated and angry with myself
b. Quickly put it out of my mind
tastes. You eat less as you notice more and
c. Feel like giving up
leave time for your body to feel satisfied.
d. Accepting and curious
➌ Where is your attention as you eat?
DDPart of mindfulness is observing feelings and
a. Too busy to notice much
behaviors as they happen — and being simply
b. On how many calories are in my food
curious about them. If you’ve overeaten, just
c. Zoned out, almost as if I’m in a trance
accept what happened with compassion for
d. On how my food looks, smells and tastes
yourself and with no judgment. Bring your
awareness back to the present, breathing and
becoming conscious of what's happening in
the moment. What can you learn?
52 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 53
Stay connected
How to be a more mindful eater
Try these ideas to increase your mindfulness
as you prepare and eat meals:
• Practice acceptance. Be aware of critical
or judgmental thoughts about food, your
eating habits and your body. Accept the
moment — and your body — as it is.
• Make a conscious decision to eat. Before
you eat, ask yourself, “How hungry am
I right now? Am I eating out of hunger,
habit, boredom or emotion?”
• Reserve time for your meal. Don’t eat
on the run. If you’re eating with others,
involve them in preparing the food.
• Avoid distractions while eating. Eat at a
table. Turn off the TV and put away your
phone, work, books and magazines until
you are done.
• Appreciate your food. Start your meal
by saying grace or a prayer or by offering
another expression of gratitude.
• Breathe. Before and during your meal,
consciously take a few deep breaths.
• Use all your senses to fully experience
your food and drinks. Observe the smells,
textures, sounds, colors and tastes. Ask
yourself how much you’re enjoying the
food and how appealing it is.
• Choose modest portions to avoid overeating. Eat small bites, and chew slowly.
Appreciate that your food fills you up
and makes you healthy.
A ‘taste’ of mindful eating
Try this exercise to gain a firsthand understanding of mindful eating.
1. Choose one piece of food you like, such
as a strawberry.
2. Take a moment to look at the berry.
Breathe in and out a few times to help
yourself focus. Notice the color, texture
and shape. What does it feel like in your
fingers? Smell the strawberry.
3. Take a bite of the strawberry. Before you
start chewing, notice what it feels like
in your mouth. Slowly eat the berry as
you focus on the act of chewing and then
swallowing. What does it taste like?
4. Savor the taste of the strawberry and
immerse yourself in this moment and
nothing else — no projects or deadlines,
no worries, no past, no future.
As you slow down the process of eating to
become fully aware of the experience, you
connect more closely with your food. If you
eat just one mindful bite during a meal,
that’s a good start.
Mindful eating can help with weight control
by increasing your awareness of physical
cues that you’re hungry or satiated. It can
help you avoid eating when you’re not really
hungry and can prevent overeating. It can
help you choose food both pleasing to you
and nourishing to your body.
Getting support for your weight-loss efforts
can mean the difference between success and
failure. Support can be emotional: a shoulder
to lean on when you’re feeling discouraged.
It can be practical: someone to watch the kids
while you exercise. It can also be inspiring:
an exercise partner who encourages you to
get out and move on those days when your
favorite TV show seems like a better option.
Who’s on your support team? If you don’t
have one, create one. Tell your family and
friends that you would appreciate their help,
especially if they’re reluctant. Remember
that it’s not uncommon for a partner or other
companion to feel threatened as you lose
weight. Your mother may feel hurt if you
don’t eat her famous dessert, or your friends
may beg you to skip a workout to go out for
pizza. Remind your loved ones that while
you’re changing your lifestyle, you’re not
changing your feelings for them. Give them
ways to help.
Some people fare better with professional
support, such as from a dietitian or health
coach. A professionally led group may also
help. Or ask a friend, family member or coworker to join your weight program to create
your own support group. Even if you want
to work on your own, it helps to have people
in your corner.
To build and maintain a support network:
• Stay in touch. Answer phone calls,
emails and letters, even when you’re
feeling down.
• Recognize the importance of give
and take. Express your appreciation for
support and be ready to return the favor.
• Learn to say no. Free time for friends and
activities that support your efforts.
• Find a partner. Find a co-worker to walk
with or a friend to plan or cook healthy
meals with.
• Practice forgiveness. Set aside past
differences and approach relationships
with a clean slate.
• Join in. Take part in neighborhood
events, community organizations, local
exercise classes or family get-togethers.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
If you find yourself struggling with
self-defeating attitudes and beliefs,
you may benefit from cognitive
behavioral therapy.
This type of therapy is based on the belief that how
you feel stems from how you think about yourself
and your life. It helps you confront distorted ways of
thinking that can sabotage success, such as focusing on
the negative aspects of a situation while filtering out the
positive ones. A licensed therapist can help you move
toward positive, realistic perceptions.
54 My Weight Solution
Mayo Clinic 55
Food and fitness:
Make it a family affair
If your child is overweight ...
Parents play a crucial role in helping
children who are overweight to feel loved
and to achieve a healthy weight. Take
opportunities to build self-esteem:
One way to make sure your family supports
your weight-loss goals is to help them get
involved in your plan. The bonus is that
they’ll be more healthy — which can be
especially important for children who are
overweight or at risk of obesity.
Healthy eating, family style
Your wise choices can influence your
family’s eating behaviors.
• Keep healthy foods within arm’s reach
for snacking.
• Avoid stocking large quantities of
unhealthy foods — if it’s not in the
house, they (and you) won’t be tempted.
• Avoid fast­-food restaurants. If you do go,
focus on healthier choices.
• Take your kids grocery shopping. Teach
them how to read food labels (see page
31). Give them options so that they can
make choices.
• Adapt your recipes so they’re healthier
(see page 34). Let your children help.
Don’t be afraid to get creative.
• Make easy-to-fix healthy meals ahead of
time. You can freeze them and heat them
when needed.
56 My Weight Solution
• If your child’s school rarely offers healthy
foods, teach your child how to pack a
healthy lunch. And consider talking with
other parents and the school to try to
initiate a healthier lunch program.
• Schedule family meals several times
during the week. Children who eat with
their families tend to have healthier
eating patterns. Include your favorites, as
well as your children’s. Encourage them
to develop a taste for new foods.
• Talk to your kids directly, openly and
without being critical. Focus on your child
with questions such as “What activity
would you find most enjoyable?” “What’s
been the hardest part about managing
your weight this week?” “What can I do
to help?”
• Celebrate small changes with nonfood
rewards, such as going to the local park.
• Help your child focus on positive
achievements, such as biking for more
than 20 minutes without getting tired.
Keep it fun
To keep your kids interested in fitness,
make it fun:
Be silly. Let younger children see how
much fun you can have while being
physically active. Run like a gorilla. Walk
like a spider. Hop like a bunny.
Get in the game. Play catch, get the
whole family involved in a game of tag or
have a rope-jumping contest.
Set an example
Remember, your
kids may follow
example if you:
• Eat healthy
s and keep acti
• Don’t eat he
althy foods and
• Constantly
complain about
weight and how
you look
• Focus on a he
althy weight inst
of model-like th
Whether your child is overweight or not,
avoid food-related power struggles. You
might unintentionally lay the groundwork
for unhealthy behaviors by providing or
withholding certain foods (sweets, for
instance) as rewards or punishments. An
intense focus on your child’s eating habits
and weight can lead your child to overeat
even more.
Make chores a friendly challenge. Who
can pull the most weeds in the garden?
Who can collect the most litter around
the neighborhood?
Try an activity party. For your child’s
next birthday, schedule a bowling party,
take the kids to a climbing wall or set up
relay races in the backyard.
Put your kids in charge. Let each child
take a turn choosing the activity of the
Rather than criticize, focus on the positive
— such as the fun of playing outside or the
adventure of fresh fruits you can get yearround. Emphasize the benefits of exercise
apart from helping to manage weight — for
example, it makes muscles stronger.
day or week. The key is to find things
that your children like to do.
Mayo Clinic 57
Overcome challenges
Check the healthy-eating barriers that apply to you. Then review possible solutions, including ones you create, with a health professional or other supportive friend or family member.
Potential barriers
Possible solutions
Potential barriers
Possible solutions
c Lack of
c Lack of time to
• Keep it simple. Serve a fresh salad with fat-free dressing, a wholegrain roll and a piece of fruit.
• Stop at a deli or grocery store and buy a healthy sandwich, soup or
entree that’s low in calories and fat.
c Family resistance
c Dislike of
and fruits
c Cravings for
junk food
c Too expensive
58 My Weight Solution
Focus on skills that have worked for you in the past.
Consider your strengths and play to them.
Identify what personally motivates you to succeed.
Make small changes over time.
When you have a setback, start fresh the next day.
• Take it slowly. Make a few small changes each week.
• Keep fruit in a location where it’s visible and easy to grab.
• Prepare one of your favorite dishes using a different cooking method,
such as baking chicken instead of frying.
• Ask family members which healthy foods they’d like to try. Give them
several options so that they might be more willing to experiment.
• Find a few that you do like and eat them more often.
• Try vegetables you’ve never had. Add them to your favorite soups or
replace some of the meat in casseroles or pizzas with vegetables.
• Include fresh fruit with your cereal, and stir fruit into low-fat yogurt or
low-fat cottage cheese.
• Avoid keeping junk food at home.
• Have a glass of water or a piece of fruit instead.
• If you can’t resist the urge, buy only a small amount, such as a single
serving. Have it along with your meal.
• Eat healthy foods first; you won’t be as hungry when you get to the
favorites that put your weight at risk.
• Try healthier versions, such as baked rather than regular chips.
• Track in-store specials on healthy foods at your local grocery.
• Buy grains such as oatmeal and brown rice in bulk.
• In summer, buy fresh produce at the farmers market for some of the
lowest prices.
• Eat simple meals occasionally; a peanut butter sandwich on wholewheat bread or a bowl of soup doesn’t cost much.
make healthy
c Don’t like to cook
• Use shortcuts such as prepackaged salad greens or raw vegetables.
• Check your library for cookbooks that focus on easy, healthy meals;
copy and save the recipes and ideas that work best.
• Base your meals on ready-to-eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Explore convenient cooking techniques using a slow cooker or your
microwave to save time.
c Travel a lot
• In your car, pack a cooler with sandwiches, yogurt, fruits and veggies.
• On a plane, pack nuts and fruits in your carry-on.
• At hotels or conferences, ask for healthy or vegetarian meals or seek
out a nearby grocery for easy-to-fix items.
c Not hungry at
• Start by eating breakfast on two mornings at first, then add a healthy
morning meal one day at a time.
• Prep a box of cereal and bowl the night before or have a ready-made
shake in the refrigerator if time is an issue.
• Take breakfast in hand by carrying along apples, bananas, whole-grain
bagels or single-serve yogurts as you go.
breakfast time
Solve problems
Life doesn’t follow a perfectly smooth
The first step is to identify and
course. You will inevitably run into
define potential roadblocks and
obstacles on the weight-loss journey.
brainstorm solutions. Use the
It’s how you respond that makes the
charts on these pages to identify
difference. For long-term success,
the barriers most likely to get in
you’ll need strategies in place to solve
your way and plan ahead how
problems as they arise.
you’ll face those challenges.
Mayo Clinic 59
Tackle exercise barriers
Again, check the barriers that present your biggest challenges. Then consider which solutions would work for you. And don’t hesitate to add your own solutions.
Potential barriers
Possible solutions
Potential barriers
Possible solutions
c Lack of time
Break activity into shorter periods of time, such as 10-minute walks.
Identify current time wasters, such as TV watching or Internet use.
Plan exercise into your daily schedule.
Reframe your concept of exercise to include many everyday activities.
c Travel
Change your routines occasionally.
Do a variety of activities rather than just one or two.
Work out with a friend or in a group.
Join a health club or take a fitness class.
Listen to music, watch TV or read while you work out.
Challenge yourself with new goals.
Experiment with interval training.
Learn more about technique.
Get a new gadget or piece of equipment.
• Find out what fitness facilities, parks or walking paths are available
where you’re going.
• Walk around the airport terminal.
• Stretch and walk during your flight, or take short walking breaks
during a road trip.
• Work out in your hotel room, and walk the halls and climb the stairs
in your hotel.
c Injury or
Work out at home rather than at a club.
Choose activities that require minimal facilities and equipment.
Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
Make use of cues or prompts to remind yourself to work out.
Choose activities that don’t depend on good weather or daylight.
• Warm up and cool down when you exercise.
• Talk to your doctor about how to exercise appropriately for your
age, fitness level, skill level and health status.
• Choose low-risk or low-impact activities such as water aerobics.
• Use the proper equipment and dress for the weather conditions.
• If you’ve been injured, ask your doctor what you can still do. Choose
physical activities involving uninjured parts of your body.
• Choose activities that you can do regardless of the weather, such as
indoor cycling, aerobics, indoor swimming, stair climbing, dancing or
mall walking.
c Life transitions
• Consider a moderate program of physical activity during stressful times.
c Self-
• Find an exercise class with others trying to lose weight. Or find a friend
willing to walk, bike or jog with you.
• Ask an expert to demonstrate how to use equipment — or how to
stretch and train — to increase your confidence.
• Be confident that your discomfort will disappear as exercise becomes
more routine.
60 My Weight Solution
sore joints
c Illness
• Avoid strenuous exercise when you’re sick. But you may be able to
work out at a reduced intensity.
• Don’t exercise if you have a fever, chest pain, shortness of breath,
generalized muscle aches, a hacking cough, vomiting, extreme
tiredness, diarrhea, chills or swollen lymph glands.
c Fatigue
• Regular physical activity increases energy. Begin with just 10 minutes
of activity — a little is better than none.
• Exercise when your energy is highest, whether it's in the morning,
afternoon or early evening.
• Keep motivational messages where you'll see them often.
c Lack of facilities
• Select activities you can do on your own, such as walking, jogging
or rope jumping.
• Identify inexpensive, convenient community resources, such as park
and recreation centers or community education programs.
or resources
Mayo Clinic 61
How to get back on track
Habits for life
You were slowly and steadily losing weight,
but now the scale refuses to budge. Or
you’ve lost your resolve and slipped back to
old habits. It’s not unusual to hit a plateau
or to experience a lapse in your commitment
to your weight-loss program. Rather than be
hard on yourself, simply be curious about
what’s happening and try some of these
strategies to get back on track.
With time and regular reinforcement, your new
It’s normal to hit plateaus. Most people reach
one after six months of weight loss. Try these
• Review your food and activity records to
make sure you haven’t let yourself get by
with larger portions or less exercise.
• Reduce your daily calorie intake by 200
calories, unless this puts you in a range
that’s too low for good health.
• Gradually increase your daily exercise
time by 15 to 30 minutes. If possible, also
increase the intensity.
• Focus on three- to four-week trends in
weight loss instead of daily changes.
• Reassess your program and goals. If it is
too much to decrease calories or increase
activity, it is better to be satisfied with the
weight you have lost than to throw in the
towel and regain it.
Dealing with lapses
A lapse occurs when you revert to your old
behaviors temporarily. If several lapses have
occurred in a short time, it’s tempting to think
your weight-loss plan is too challenging.
62 My Weight Solution
Not to worry; a lapse is just that: a shortterm bump in the road. Following these tips
will help you get back on track:
healthy behaviors will become habits. In fact, there
may come a time that you no longer need to keep
detailed records of your food intake or physical activity.
• Don’t let negative thoughts take over.
Mistakes happen, and each day is a
chance to start anew.
Eventually you’ll know how to identify healthy foods, how
many servings a day meet your needs, and what makes
a single serving. You’ll look forward to physical activity
• Take another small step. Changing your
life doesn’t happen all at once. Keep in
mind that changing behaviors in small
ways can add up to a big difference in
your life.
that’s a routine part of your day. You’ll have formed new
habits and be well on your way to maintaining a healthy
weight for life.
• Ask for and accept support. Accepting
support from other people isn’t a sign of
weakness, nor does it mean that you’re
failing. Get support from others when
you have difficult days.
• Plan your strategy. Clearly identify the
problem, and then create a list of possible
solutions. If one solution doesn’t work,
try another until you find one that does.
• Work out your frustration with exercise.
Keep it upbeat and even fun — don’t use
physical activity as a punishment.
• Recommit to your goals. Review them to
make sure they’re still realistic.
Although lapses can be disappointing, they
can also teach you a lot. Perhaps your goals
are unrealistic or certain strategies don’t
work. Above all, realize that all hope isn’t
lost when you lapse. Just recharge your
motivation, recommit to your program and
return to healthy behaviors.
Mayo Clinic 63
½ cup
½ large ear
½ cup
1 small
½ cup
1, 4-inch diameter
½ cup
½ circle, 6-inch diameter
3 cups
Chips, low-fat, baked
Corn, fresh or canned
Corn on the cob
Crackers, low-fat
» Triple-rye
» Whole-wheat
English muffin, whole-grain
Kasha (buckwheat groats,
Muffin, whole-grain
Oatmeal, cooked
Pancake, whole-wheat
Pasta, whole-grain, cooked
Pita bread, whole-grain
Popcorn, microwave, low-fat
¾ cup
1 cup cubed or ¹∕³ small melon
²∕³ cup or about 15
½ cup (4 ounces)
3 small
2 small
1 small, ½ large, ¾ cup sections
½ cup (4 ounces)
Figs, dried
Figs, fresh
½ cup or 4 sprouts
¾ cup
1 cup
½ cup sliced or baby or 1 medium
1 cup cut-up
1 cup diced or 4 medium stalks
1 cup sliced or 1 medium
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage, cooked
Cabbage, raw
10 chips
Cereal, dry, whole-grain†
1 cup
1 cup cut-up
¾ cup
1 medium
1 medium or ¾ cup sections
½ cup (4 ounces)
about ½ cup
½ cup (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons
Mandarin oranges, canned
Melon balls
Mixed fruit, fresh
½ cup or 3 pods
¾ cup or 8 stalks
½ cup sliced
See “Protein/Dairy” group
¹∕³ cup
25 medium
¼ cup
3 tablespoons chopped
½ cup
2 cups
¾ cup sliced
½ cup diced
1 medium
8 or 1 cup
¹∕³ cup
½ cup (4 ounces)
½ cup
¾ cup
¾ cup
Onions, green (scallions)
Onions, red, white or sweet
Peas, green
Peas, pod or snap
Salsa, vegetable
Spinach, cooked
Spinach, raw
Squash, summer
Tomatoes, cherry or grape
Tomato sauce, fat-free
(includes fat-free marinara,
pasta, pizza sauces)
Vegetable juice
Vegetables, canned
Water chestnuts
Zucchini, cooked or raw
30 small sticks or 3 twists
1½ cups
¹/³ cup
½ cup
1 small
¾ cup
1 biscuit or ½ cup spoon-sized
Pumpkin, cooked, no sugar
Rice, brown, cooked
Roll, whole-grain
Rutabaga, cooked
Shredded wheat, unsweetened
½ large
1, 6-inch diameter
1, 4-inch square
Sweet potato, baked
Tortilla, corn or fat-free flour
Waffle, whole-grain
Fruit spread
2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons
¼ cup
» Half-and-half
» Nondairy liquid creamer
» Nondairy whipped topping
» Cheddar, low-fat, or Colby, low-fat 2 ounces or ½ cup shredded
²∕³ cup
1½ ounces or ¼ cup
1½ ounces or ½ cup shredded
¼ cup or 1 ounce
» Cottage, low-fat
» Mozzarella, part-skim
» Parmesan, grated
» Ricotta, part-skim
» Soy or low-fat Swiss
3 tablespoons
1½ tablespoons
» Fat-free
» Low-fat
4 halves
2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon
1½ tablespoons
1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon
4 tablespoons
Peanut butter
» Reduced-fat or regular
Salad dressing
» Fat-free
» Low-fat or reduced-fat
» Reduced-calorie
» Flaxseed, ground
» Sesame
» Sunflower
Sour cream, fat-free
1 cup
1 cup
2 ounces
2 ounces
3 ounces
4 ounces
½ cup
½ cup
3 ounces or ½ cup
3 ounces
3 ounces
3-ounce patty
1 cup
1 cup
» Rice, calcium-fortified
» Soy, calcium-fortified
Peas, green
Pork, lean cuts with no fat
Soybeans, green (edamame)
Tuna, fresh or canned in water
Turkey, skinless
Vegetarian burger, black bean
Yogurt, fat-free, plain
Yogurt, low-calorie
9 large or 12 small
¾ cup
*Blue indicates the best (and least processed) choices.
Remember, low-fat doesn’t always mean low-calorie.
Butter is higher in saturated (bad) fat and cholesterol than
is soft (tub) margarine.
oNe SerVINg IS:
Unlimited (minimum 4)
Unlimited (minimum 3)
4 to 8 daily servings
3 to 7 daily servings
3 to 5 daily servings
Up to 75 calories daily
FooD grouP
calorie diet
When a range of recommended servings is shown, the lower number of servings is based on 1,200 calories and the higher number is
based on 2,000 calories.
Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid
*Or limit to about 500 calories a week.
¹∕³ cup
1½ tablespoons
¹∕³ cup
3-ounce bar
1½ tablespoons
¹∕³ cup
1 tablespoon
½ cup
1½ tablespoons
3 tablespoons
½ ounce or ¹∕³ of standard bar
1 small slice (¹∕12 of 12-ounce cake)
To make a handy, portable brochure, copy your guide on a front-and-back sheet
*Blue indicates the best (and least processed) choices.
1 teaspoon
» Corn, safflower or sunflower
¾ cup (6 ounces)
1½ teaspoons
1 teaspoon
» Canola, olive or peanut
4 halves
½ cup
» Walnuts
8 whole
» Peanuts
» Pecans
4 whole
» Cashews
Lamb, lean cuts with no fat
1 cup (8 ounces)
7 whole or 4 teaspoons slivered
» Almonds
¹∕³ cup
2 ounces
» Fat-free or 1%
1 tablespoon
about 3 ounces
Fish (also see salmon and tuna)
1 tablespoon
» Reduced-calorie
Egg whites
» Low-fat or light
Egg substitute
1 cup or about 6
1 large
½ cup
4 ounces
4 tablespoons
1 tablespoon
» Tub (soft), reduced-fat
3 ounces or 9 small
» Fat-free
Syrup, maple
2 teaspoons
» Trans-free
Yogurt, frozen, fat-free
Ice cream, fat-free, vanilla
Cream cheese
Gelatin dessert
¹∕³ cup
2 ounces
» Feta
Cranberry sauce
Chocolate, dark
2½ ounces
Chicken, skinless
1 teaspoon
Butter, regular†
2 ounces
Beef, lean
Angel food cake
FoCuS oN LoW-CALorIe
¹∕6 medium
½ cup
Sweets: 75 calories/serving* (eat sparingly)
*Blue indicates the best choices.
Breads and cereals vary greatly in calories — check the label.
1 cup
Squash, winter, cooked
» Chicken noodle, tomato or vegetable 1 cup
Soup, made with water
oNe SerVINg IS:
oNe SerVINg IS:
½ cup
Beans, black, kidney, navy
Fats:* 45 calories/serving (eat sparingly)
½ medium
Potato, mashed
Rice, wild, cooked
» Baked
½ cup
» Baby, red or yellow
Protein/Dairy:* 110 calories/serving
1¼ cups cubed or 1 small wedge
1 large or ¾ cup sections
1½ cups whole
1 cup
½ cup (4 ounces)
½ cup cubed or 2 rings
1 small or ½ cup sliced
1 medium or ¾ cup sliced
½ medium or 1 cup cubed
¾ cup
1 cup or about 8
*Blue indicates the best choices.
Limit fruit juice to 4 ounces a day — it’s high in calories, low in fiber
and less filling than fresh fruit.
1 large
½ cup diced
1 cup cubed
Honeydew melon
1 cup whole
1 cup or 30 small
Grapes, red or green
²∕³ cup
2 cups shredded
Kale, cooked
*Blue indicates the best choices.
Starchy, higher calorie vegetables and soups are listed
under “Carbohydrates.”
½ cup
Bulgur, cooked
¾ cup
Berries, mixed
1 medium or 1 cup sliced
Bell pepper
Potato (skin on)
2, 6- to 8-inch long
Breadsticks, crispy, low-fat
1 small or ½ large
½ cup sliced
Eggplant, cooked (not fried) 1 cup cubed
¹∕³ cup
1 slice
Bread, whole-grain†
4 whole
Bean sprouts
½ small, 3-inch diameter
Barley, cooked
½ cup
Applesauce, unsweetened
²∕³ cup
1 cup
Beans, green
Bagel, whole-grain
oNe SerVINg IS:
½ cup (4 ounces)
½ cup or 6 spears
oNe SerVINg IS:
Animal crackers
½ bud or ½ cup hearts
Carbohydrates:* 70 calories/serving
1 small
FoCuS oN FreSH
oNe SerVINg IS:
Fruits:* 60 calories/serving
FoCuS oN FreSH
Vegetables:* 25 calories/serving†
Pyramid Servings Guide
and fold between panels