Dear Nurse Felicia,
I am getting married in December and need to lose at least 10kg before the wedding. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start. Please help!
First of all, congratulations on your engagement! Not knowing you personally, I can’t say whether or not you really need to lose 10kg.
I think you should begin by evaluating not only whether or not this is a realistic goal but also the motivation behind it.
Many women who are already at a perfectly healthy weight feel pressured to live up to the often unrealistic images they see in magazines, movies, and television.
Remember, your fiancé proposed to you because he loves you just as you are today.
If you are overweight, a big event like a wedding can provide the motivation to make some lifestyle changes that will improve your overall health immediately and for the future.
Unfortunately, too many women heading for a wedding rely on crash diets to lose lots of weight in a short period of time. This is neither healthy nor sustainable.
A better strategy is to focus on small changes that you can incorporate into your daily life and maintain after your wedding and beyond. Obviously, exercise is crucial.
While moderate exercise three days per week is generally sufficient for maintaining a healthy weight, extra effort is required for the kind of weight loss you are seeking.
My colleague on this page, Amity Weiss, is the real expert on this topic so I will leave that to her and focus instead on diet.
Fasting, consuming only fruits or juices may help you lose some weight in the short term but I guarantee you the weight will come right back as soon as you resume your normal eating habits.
The key to real weight loss is to fundamentally change those habits. While I believe it is important to indulge in occasional treats, if you are serious about losing weight, you must cut back significantly on refined flour or sugar like white bread, cakes and pastries.
Other simple starches like potatoes, white rice and green bananas should also be minimized.
Instead focus on whole grains like whole wheat or brown bread. While fruits might seem like a good idea, many tropical fruits like pineapples and maracuja actually contain quite a lot of sugar.
The largest part of your diet should consist of vegetables, preferably green ones like broccoli, green beans, peas, and salads.
Also include lean proteins such as chicken or fish, baked or grilled, not fried!!! Fats such as cooking oil, butter, and other dairy products should be used only sparingly.
While it may be hard at first, over time your body will adjust and sugar cravings will diminish. In addition to the weight you will lose, you will most importantly be improving your health overall.
Wishing you a healthy diet and a happy marriage,
Felicia Price is an American Registered Professional Nurse working in Kigali.
Please send your health queries – whatever they may be - to firstname.lastname@example.org