4 Key Areas That Impact Weight Loss

by Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN LD

Last Updated: August 24, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have taken the time to examine their current lifestyles and evaluate if there are areas of opportunity for change. For many, weight loss has come up, with most individuals initially looking to nutrition. In addition to nutrition, there are three other areas that should be paid attention in order to truly see results. Exercise, stress relief and sleep are critical areas to attend to in order to see results, and improve general health and overall wellbeing. Instead of trying out the newest diet program, try reflecting on each of these areas and what improvements can be made. Let’s dive in to better understand how these areas of health are interconnected.
  1. Nutrition
    While it is tempting to jump on the next hot new diet, try going back to the basics. The first thing to consider is the quality of calories you are consuming. If you are not familiar with MyPlate, it is a dietary pattern of eating focusing on consuming balanced, nutrient dense meals, based on the food groups. If weight loss is the goal, you will also want to examine the quantity of the calories you’re consuming. Creating a calorie deficit and knowing how many calories you should aim to consume in a day is important. However, not eating enough calories can also prevent you from reaching your goals by sending your body into starvation mode. To determine your specific calorie needs, schedule an appointment with a Kroger Dietitian. Your assigned dietitian will work with you to create realistic goals, show you personalized products and share recipes that align with your lifestyle.
  2. Exercise
    It’s important to note that exercise alone is not enough to reach health goals. Exercise is important because it can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and decrease an individual’s risk for heart attack and other chronic diseases. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should exercise between 150 minutes and 300 minutes a week with moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week with vigorous-intensity or aerobic exercises. If you have a sedentary job or don’t have an established workout routine, start small and incorporate a 15-minute walk in the morning and evening. You’ll find that this not only helps you elevate your heart rate but also gives you time to mentally prepare for your day or decompress after a stressful one.
  3. Stress
    We all have stress in our lives, albeit at varying levels, and managing this stress can have an incredible effect on overall health. High cortisol levels and stress induced behaviors can both lead to weight gain. Cortisol is the stress hormone and when released, it triggers glucose to be released into the bloodstream. This causes blood sugar to spike and then drop, as insulin is released to remove this glucose. Once blood sugar drops, the body’s natural tendency is to reach for something sweet. Sweets such as desserts and candy contain a lot of added sugar, without any fiber or protein to balance blood sugar levels. This cycle of spiking and crashing blood sugar ultimately puts more stress on the body and ultimately impedes the process of achieving health goals.

    Stress can also lead to engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as picking up fast food when we are on the go, skipping physical activity or even skipping meals. Whatever it may be, knowing how to effectively manage your stress can keep you from moving backwards. Some simple stress relieving activities include cleaning, meditating, getting lost in a hobby such as playing an instrument, catching up with a friend, or movement of any kind. The key is to focus your mind on something you enjoy and to relax!
  4. Sleep
    The evidence is overwhelming that sleep and weight are related. There are several changes that take place in the body when it doesn’t get enough rest. Not enough sleep affects the hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. Additionally, when low on sleep, the brain struggles to make sound decisions, which can lead to impulse buys at the grocery stores. It’s important to know what goes on in the body while sleeping, as it can affect how you look, feel and perform the next day. Additionally, and particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to note that the immune system resets and recharges while you sleep. To improve sleep quality and quantity, exercise daily, improve your sleeping environment, avoid mid-day naps, ensure your mattress and pillow are supportive and stick to a sleep schedule.

Living during a pandemic can be stressful, which can leave you tossing and turning at night, leading to poor nutritional choices and no energy for exercise. It’s a vicious cycle and when not given adequate attention, weight gain can creep in. Take the time to evaluate your own success within the areas of nutrition, exercise, stress and sleep to determine if adjustments will help to improve your overall health.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth loves being a dietitian because it connects her two passions- helping people, and healthy living. She’s a walking encyclopedia of better for you foods, meals, and culinary hacks to ensure her patients are enjoying the flavors they love while eating and staying well.