skip to main content
  1. Working Toward a Healthy Weight: Tips to Get you Started

Working Toward a Healthy Weight: Tips to Get you Started

Are you trying to lose some weight or keep unwanted pounds from creeping up on the scale? If so, focus on good nutrition and physical activity as the basis for a “can do” healthy living plan.

Get real about your goals

Evaluate your weight. One way is to check your Body Mass Index (BMI). Log on to Under “Healthy Living Tools” find the “Body Mass Index Calculator”. BMI scores weight in relation to height. A BMI between 18.5-24.9 is a healthy range for most people. At higher or lower BMI levels, the risk for some health problems increases.
If you’re at a healthy weight, continue to stay active and make healthy choices.
If your BMI is 24.9 or higher –

  • Commit to taking charge of your health. Losing even 5% to 10% of body weight may improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar control (if you have or are at risk for diabetes).
  • Speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian about your risk for health problems and a weight loss plan with goals that will work for you.
  • A healthy and sustainable goal is usually a loss of one to two pounds (0.5-1 kg) per week. Beware of fad diets that claim weight losses that sound too good to be true.

Be savvy about what makes a healthful eating plan

What we eat over time influences our health and affects our risk for some diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. While there is no one “right way” to eat, healthful eating plans include these principles:
A balanced diet of appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, protein and fat, all of which are required to keep your body working properly. A diet based on the new Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide will provide you with the nutrients you need. A registered dietitian can help you tailor the Food Guide recommendations to your needs.

  • Carbohydrate – 45% to 65% of daily calories
  • Protein – 10% to 35% of daily calories
  • Fat – 20% to 35% of calories daily calories (limit saturated fat and trans fat)

Include more fibre-rich foods daily. A high fibre diet that consists of lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods and legumes promotes digestive health and can help reduce the risk for heart disease. Eating more fibre can also help you feel fuller longer, reducing appetite. The current recommendation is 14 grams of fibre per 1000 calories (about 25 grams/day if you eat 1800 calories, 30 grams if you eat 2200 calories).
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. Aim for several servings everyday, especially dark green and orange vegetables. Fresh, frozen or canned are all good choices. Avoid vegetables and fruits prepared with fat and sugar.
Adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Eating a variety of foods from all the food groups will enable you to get all the nutrients you need to keep you body working well. Watch your portions and whenever possible choose reduced fat options such as fat-free milk and lean meats.

Focus on Your Food:

Our busy lives means there is often not enough time to pay attention to what or how much we eat. This often results in eating big portions of foods with empty calories, which leads to weight gain.
Get to know your food. Be aware of your calorie intake and portion size.

  • Check out the serving size and calories per serving on products.
  • Learn to read the Nutrition Facts Panel on packaging. Latest on the label.
  • Read menu descriptions and ask for dressing and sauces on the side so you can control the portion.
  • Don’t forget that mindless snacking contributes to extra calories!

Plan time for meals and snacks. Enjoy what you’re eating and savour your mealtimes.
Eat slowly and “listen” to your body’s signals. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to give the “I’ve had enough” cue.

Bank Some Calorie Savings:

Small, regular calorie savings can help you manage your weight.
Eat sensible portions. Visit for articles on Nutrition Basics and Sensible Snacking.

  • Measure or weigh your food. This will help you visualize more appropriate portions.
  • Try eating on a smaller plate and give yourself an eating break before going back for seconds.
  • In a restaurant, split an entrée – eat half now and take the rest home. Or select a salad and an appetizer, instead. Share dessert with a friend.
Move more everyday. Challenge yourself: add 2000 steps to your daily routine.
  • Park farther away from the office or store; use the stairs, too!
  • Visit a colleague instead of sending an email or making a phone call.
  • Take a quick 10-minute walk after lunch.
  • Find the longest route to the restroom, copier or mailbox.
Trade off to save calories.
  • Try no-, low- or reduced-calorie versions of foods.
  • Look for reduced-fat and “light” products. Read labels to make sure they also have fewer calories.

Go for Balance:

What and how much you eat over time count for weight management.
Review your day. Had a big lunch? Have a smaller dinner and skip the TV time snack.
Plan ahead for celebrations. Think moderation. Work in some extra activity and make healthier choices at other meals or the next day.
Fit physical activity into your days. Be active most days of the week. Aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity.

  • Organize a group walk after a family dinner.
  • Choose vacation spots with a pool, fitness center, hiking trails or fun activities such as kayaking or tennis.
  • Enjoy activity-based fun. For example, start your picnic with a bike ride or hike.

Accentuate the Positive:

Be positive and stay motivated. You can achieve your goals – one step at a time.
Tap into your social network.

  • Ask family and friends for support with your new lifestyle changes.
  • Walk with a friend, sign up for a dance class or join a gym.
  • Go to social events with a plan; make smart choices and enjoy the fun.

Monitor your progress and applaud your successes. Don’t let set-backs get you off track. Keep moving forward. Reward yourself with non-food treats such as a long bubble bath or a massage.
Take charge of your health. Do something good for you. Enjoy healthy living while improving your weight!