People eating healthy lunch

"Color your plate with purples, oranges, and greens and try a new kind of fish. Consider going meatless occasionally to give beans or vegetables top billing. On your adventure, cast fried foods, processed meats and sugary drinks aside."

As January comes to a close, it’s the perfect time for a motivational boost. New Year’s resolutions don’t keep themselves after all.

 If you’re hoping to lose weight and gain wellness in 2020, I’m offering my tips for success from 25 years in the clinical setting.

Losing weight seems simple in theory – consume fewer calories than you burn – but this journey is often complex, wrought with myths, challenges, and even self-sabotage. Here are seven simple strategies.

Remain honest. Write down the top three reasons you want to lose weight. Keep these front and center. Be mindful of your food patterns, like times of day you eat more, eat poorly or let stress take over.

 Be aware of what motivates your actions. If you’re journaling your food intake, commit to being 100 percent truthful on that log. 

Don’t set yourself up for failure. We’ve all heard of the cabbage soup diet and others that push one type of food or exclude food groups altogether. It’s important you don’t start a weight loss plan you can’t adhere to: life happens, restaurants happen, parties happen. 

Commit to eating nutritious food that fuels your body: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and nuts; limit sweet, salty and processed foods.

Practice portion control. Even healthy foods cause weight gain if you aren’t watching your portions. Pay attention to serving sizes. When you eat a meal, envision your plate in quarters: half goes for veggies, a quarter for protein and a quarter for whole grain carbs with little space for oil, butter or cheese. 

Allow yourself what you’re craving but in moderation: a few chocolate chips, a couple of pretzels, a few sips of wine. Don’t eat directly out of a bag, serving dish or other container, especially in front of the TV. 

Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. When it comes to healthy eating and losing weight, planning is paramount. Map out weekly meals, shopping to ensure you have a nutritious array of options when and where you need them. 

Build meals and snacks around what you enjoy and what’s in season. Relying on convenience stores or fast food restaurants often results in poor choices. 

Make time, space for your health. You should also make time for exercise, stress reduction techniques, hobbies, and activities with friends.

Celebrate life’s joys in non-food ways: with a hike, bike, bath, trip to a bookstore or movie with a pal. That may include weight loss but it isn’t the whole picture. 

Avoid in unhealthy behaviors. There is no “magic pill” – like over-the-counter diet pills or supplements – for losing and keeping weight off. It’s about eating reasonable portions of healthy food throughout the day, most days. 

Don’t skip meals and “save up” calories for a big binge. This tends to result in weight gain, not loss. Your strategy should be sustainable, focused on positivity not deprivation. 

Approach eating as an adventure. There are so many healthy food choices out there, so consider each new exploration a learning experience.

 Color your plate with purples, oranges, and greens and try a new kind of fish. Consider going meatless occasionally to give beans or vegetables top billing. On your adventure, cast fried foods, processed meats and sugary drinks aside.

Strive for your personal best. Don’t compare yourself to others, as this is your very own journey.  

-Dr. Punya Raman is a board-certified family medical doctor at Avista Medical Center, 690 E. Warner Road, Gilbert. Information: avistamed.com