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Embrace the Number “15” to Accomplish Sustainable Weight Loss

I grew up in a family that ate a traditional Southern diet, and I watched as it contributed to diabetes, obesity, and disabilities among my loved ones. I realized that I needed to make changes to escape the devastating effects of poor diet and excess weight that ravaged my family.

Through the years, I figured out how to lose excess weight for good. How did I do it? Not by starving myself or following ridiculous fad diets that eliminate entire food groups. Nor did I do it by pledging my soul to an extreme fitness program that required hours and hours in the gym each week. Instead, I’ve found that tracking servings — instead of calories, fat grams or other units — is an easy, realistic way to eat the right amount of food for successful weight loss. Alongside adjusting serving sizes, my program includes 15-minutes of mindful meditation to stave off stress, and 15-minute exercise sequences to help ease into a daily regimen that brings new energy and vitality to each day.

Imagine enjoying 15 servings a day of the tastiest, easiest-to-prepare, most power-packed foods you will ever eat. Visualize yourself exercising in 15-minute chunks, doing muscle-building moves that give you energy, build strength, and rev up your metabolism. Envision taking 15 minutes of your day to nourish and refresh your mind and to feed your soul, letting go of the stresses of the day.

Science shows that people enjoy greater success by tackling weight loss in small increments. It’s much easier to think of losing 15 pounds than to worry about losing all your excess weight at once. If you have, say, 45 pounds to lose, it’s much easier to think of losing 15 pounds three times than to worry about losing an entire 45 pounds at once. After losing the first 15, you’ve proven to yourself that you have the power to do it again and again. This is the foundation of my Final 15 Plan.

Here’s how to use the number 15 as your guide to sustainable weight loss:

  1. Eat 15 servings of food a day.Just to clarify, this doesn’t mean eating 15 times a day, but rather eating 15 true servings of nutritious foods. Americans have a problem with portion distortion — our serving sizes are much too big. It’s important to learn how to judge serving sizes using visual cues (a serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards; a serving of cheese the size of a domino). Then, by following a three-phase plan of 15 days each that steps up more easy-to-prepare food choices as you go (most can be prepared in less than 15 minutes), you can successfully drop 15 pounds of excess weight.
  1. Move your body in short, 15-minute increments.The Final 15 Plan also eases you into a daily exercise routine in 15-minute chunks with muscle-building moves that give you energy, build strength, and rev up your metabolism. Exercise, combined with weight loss, greatly diminishes your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, to name just a few. Also, over time, simply having more muscle actually leads to better weight loss. I know it can be hard to jump into an exercise routine. You don’t have to begin by running or going to a high-intensity exercise class. Just take a walk! Before you know it, you’ll be walking longer and faster and exercise will feel less like work and more like a fresh, new way of life.
  1. Practice 15 minutes of mindfulness.So much of what we do in life is mindless. We go through our days without paying attention to what we’re thinking and feeling. While we’re engaged in one activity, we’re thinking about another. This mindlessness contributes to weight gain because it allows us to make food choices without really thinking. We can reverse this by practicing mindfulness. Take 15 minutes each day to become fully aware of what’s going on in the present moment. Eliminate judgments of yourself and others, and instead, look for the things to appreciate in the here and now. Mindfulness is a great de-stressor. The better you become at managing stress, the more likely you are to achieve and maintain your life’s goals, including weight loss.

Dr. Rovenia M. Brock, Ph.D. is a leading nutrition coach for over two decades and author of a new book, Lose Your Final 15: Dr. Ro’s Plan to Eat 15 Servings a Day & Lose 15 Pounds at a Time (Rodale Books, January 2017). Known for her easy-to-apply diet, fitness and health tips for people of all ages, she served as nutrition coach on The View, helping Sherri Shepherd lose more than 40 pounds. She is a frequent contributing Nutrition Coach to the Dr. Oz Show, and also has contributed to NBC’s Today show, The CBS Early Show, Good Morning America, and National Public Radio. Dr. Ro has been featured in O Magazine, Self, Ebony, Essence, The Dallas Morning News,Memphis Commercial Appeal, and was recently named one of More magazine’s top 5 nutritionists. She holds a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from Howard University and is the author of Dr. Ro’s Ten Secrets to Livin’ Healthy. Learn more at EverythingRo.com.

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