A commitment to success

Lasting weight loss requires small goals, a daily plan

Certified personal trainer Karen Bell works with a client at her Washougal studio. She suggests those who want to lose weight and keep it off commit to a regular exercise and eating plan that they can stick with long term. Buy this photo

Every day, countless people look in the mirror and declare, “no more.”

They make a commitment to lose weight. For weeks, or even months, a rigorous diet and exercise regimen is followed. They lose weight. Friends marvel at their commitment.

Then a few months later, the weight is back on, often more than before.

How does it happen?

Experts say through a combination of factors, but mainly, failure to make a long term plan that works with every day life.

The usual culprits are an eating plan that is too restrictive and exercise routine that people do not enjoy.

Karen Bell is the owner of KT Bell Fitness in Washougal. She offers group fitness classes and personal training.

One of the biggest weight loss mistakes she has noticed is people not eating enough.

“Women, especially, have been told that they need to starve themselves to lose weight and that is not true,” Bell said. “I have to retrain people on what to eat. You can still have wine, beer or cake, but it needs to be in limited amounts.”

She doesn’t mince words when saying that while weight loss is challenging for anyone, it is particularly difficult for women.

“It’s just horrible,” Bell said. “It’s really hard. You have to be very dedicated. It’s a mind set. People develop a lot of bad habits over the years and you need to be coachable, dedicated and listen to the things you need to hear.”

Bell added that a lot of people will try different diet plans with pre-packaged meals.

“They don’t have to think and the weight comes off,” she said. “But when they stop, the weight comes on again. It needs to be a lifestyle with real food. If you are on this journey, having a coach is the only way to do it.”

She also recommends having a plan, and picking a few different foods for regular meals.

“My diet does not have a lot of variety,” Bell said. “I eat chicken, fish, rice and vegetables. Find a few foods you like, eat those things and make it work. Limit processed foods. You can still have treats, but in smaller amounts.”

Liz Stiles of Washougal works with Bell to help tone her muscles after losing 64 pounds.

The 59-year-old began her weight loss journey in May 2012.

“I went to the doctor with my husband for his health, and thought I would join him in his efforts,” Stiles said. “I was successful, but he didn’t follow through. There were a lot of things that pushed me. I didn’t want to develop Type 2 diabetes or heart disease.”

She said that while it is challenge to lose weight after age 50, and keep it off, it is definitely not impossible.

“Anyone can if you have the mind set for it,” Stiles said. “I’ve done the yo-yo thing, tried several diet plans and what has helped me is to find exercise that I love to do. If I don’t eat well, I can’t do the things I love.”

Stiles walks up to 10 miles per day and is also an avid hiker. Before losing weight, she walked but with no intensity.

She also used to skip breakfast, but no more. Now, Stiles eats five small meals a day.

“Before, I would work through to dinner and then eat all night,” she said. “Breakfast wasn’t in the vocabulary. Now, I know when I haven’t had enough, I start to get shaky.”

Stiles advises others to have a good support team.

“Karen and my youngest son have been amazing,“ she said. “I hope that I can help someone else the way that they helped me.”