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New year’s weight loss, one pound at a time

Tammie Black works weights with help from personal trainer Ryan Gaffney during workout Rush-Copley Healthplex.
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

Tammie Black works on weights with help from personal trainer Ryan Gaffney during a workout at Rush-Copley Healthplex. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Tips for losing weight

Use non-food incentives and rewards

Find a good support system

Eat breakfast and regular meals every four to five hours after

Make exercise a priority

Choose a workout that fits your schedule

Avoid weight-loss pills and supplements

On the web

For local help on healthy eating and exercise classes visit the websites of these hospitals:

Edward Hospital —

Rush-Copley Hospital —

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Updated: January 27, 2013 6:03AM

If you want to lose weight in the new year, you’re not alone. In fact, some statistics put it at the top of the list of New Year’s resolutions. One Oswego woman who has made lightening up her resolution for 2013 is already on her way to proving it can be done.

Earlier this year Tammie Black, a Spanish teacher at Metea Valley High School, decided to focus on cutting down her weight. So far she’s lost 60 pounds. For 2013, Black aims to lose 50 more.

Her secret? Putting herself first.

“I made this the year of me,” Black says. “I’m making myself a priority and finding people who encourage me.”

Her first step was to sign up for a membership at the Rush-Copley Healthplex where she found trainer Ryan Gaffney, who provides the extra push she needs.

Black found that it’s important to set reachable goals, another key to weight loss success.

“It’s best to start with a reasonable weight loss goal of losing 1 to 2 pounds a week, says Toni Havala, Aramark dietician at Edward Hospital. “When weight comes off slowly, you stand a higher chance that you will be able to maintain the weight loss.”

Dr. Jennifer Kurka, a family medicine physician with Rush-Copley Medical Group, agrees.

“Start slow. Don’t do too many things at once,” she says. “Look at what you’re doing and make minor changes.”

Both Havala and Kurka suggest choosing one change and sticking with it until it becomes a habit before adding the next one.

“Pick one day you know you can do exercises. Conquer that one day and then add another day,” Kurka says.

Taking the long-term view in building these incremental changes helps, too.

“This is what I need to do for my life, not just for this month or next month,” Black says. “That mindset has made all the difference.”

Black’s training sessions are scheduled on her calendar as appointments that she refuses to break. She also found a buddy at work to check in with about her progress and occasionally work out with.

Change that yields weight loss can start as simple as a slight modification to what you normally eat and drink.

“Let’s say you usually have a large, sweetened frozen coffee every day,” Havala says. “Maybe you start by downsizing to a medium, skipping the whipped cream, and using non-fat milk.”

Avoiding calorie-laden drinks is a great place to start. And backing off your consumption of candy, fried foods and other high-calorie eats can help, too. Just don’t deprive yourself entirely, or you’ll sabotage your resolution. Small portions of occasional treats won’t harm your progress, as long as you keep it under control.

Black sets herself up for success by having a glass of water on hand and keeping only healthy snacks at home and on her desk at work. This way she has to go to the treats instead of having them readily available.

Above all, don’t give up at the first sign of struggle or “failure.”

“Avoid ‘all or nothing’ thinking,” Havala says. “If you make a mistake one day, or one week, it’s doesn’t mean you have failed. Just remind yourself that you can get back on track tomorrow.”

The good news is that, if you commit to the incremental changes, after a while, your body will respond, and you’ll notice yourself feeling better, looking better and sleeping better. Those good outcomes tend to spur more positive habits.

“It’s about being healthy,” Kurka stresses. “It’s not always about the pounds on the scale.”

That’s a resolution we can all get behind.

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