It’s a new year. A new start. Leave the old behind. The old frustrations, disappointments and issues in the past. We all know the drill. Make New Years resolutions that last a few weeks, before joining the pile of others promised in years past. This time, let’s make weight loss resolutions a reality.
Here are some ways to make that happen:
Identify small, measurable goals
Instead of focusing on a “diet” with all its painful connotations, think instead of changing one habit or incorporating one lifestyle change. Focus on making healthy improvements not “losing weight”. Instead of participating in the latest diet fad, identify small, measurable goals that are reasonable and possible to maintain. Give yourself a time frame to get there, knowing it’s possible and within reach can make all the difference.
Adopt tactics for eating well
Eat regularly- every two to three hours, all the fruit, vegetables and white meat you want. These are “low density, low calorie” foods that fill you up but have less calories. It can also help achieve stable blood glucose levels. I’m not a fan of food diaries, but if it’ll help document how much you actually consume, go for it. Remember, most of us only need 1500 to 1800 calories a day to meet our nutritional needs. Use a smaller plate and avoid clearing your plate for the sake of not wasting. Instead, save it for another meal.
Eat a variety of foods
The last thing we want is to feel restricted in what we can eat. That adds to the punitive feeling diets encourage. Eating a well-balanced diet should not focus on avoiding certain foods and “what I can’t have” but rather “all you can”. Pick a variety of foods, colors and tastes to meet the body’s nutritional needs. Seek out new and exciting foods and spices that add flavor and texture but minimal calories. The Mediterranean diet is a great framework for eating healthy and incorporating foods that benefit your body and support its functions. You can read more about a Mediterranean diet, here.
Drink plenty of water
I know you’ve heard it before but an adequate fluid intake is not only essential for overall health but to weight loss as well. The amount of fluid a person needs depends on their medical conditions, body weight and physical activity level. Simply put, water has zero calories. It can help manage weight by reducing caloric intake when substituted for drinks with calories and help us to feel full faster. Add a strawberry or lemon for flavor. Before you reach for bottled water, read this post and learn about the potential pit-falls.
At some point, we all use food to manage our emotions, often without even recognizing we are doing it. All our emotions- happy, sad, bored, excited, lonely, and angry, can lead to eating when we aren’t hungry. To prevent emotional eating, pause and ask, “Am I hungry or just eating to relieve my stress?” If the answer is that emotions are driving your craving, put the food down and try getting outside, read a book, talk to a friend, or exercise. Seek out help if needed.
Health-related physical fitness
We all can improve our cardio-respiratory fitness, body composition and muscular fitness. Incorporate both aerobic and muscle-building exercises into your daily routine. Adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, according to the “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” Most find this a daunting and overwhelming goal- it’s well documented that most Americans aren’t active at all. How to combat that? Start slow! Walk your dog or walk in place a few minutes a day. Stretch just two minutes three times a day- before getting out of bed, after dinner and in bed again at night. Then add a couple of minutes every week.
Computer use outside of work or school for one hour or more has increased in all ages. Many call this the new smoking- a habit that significantly increases all causes of mortality and disease. We aren’t designed to sit, the body is a perpetual motion machine. But now we spend more than half our waking hours watching TV, driving, or at a desk or computer. You burn an average of fifty calories more per hour by standing three hours per day. Five days per week, this adds up to 750 calories. In one year that’s 30,000 calories, which is almost 9 pounds, the equivalent of running 10 marathons per year!
I know none of this is news. Start slow, set small, attainable goals. Then increase slowly. This isn’t a marathon. We are in this for the long haul. Every change is important. It’s a stepping-stone to the next one. That way our bodies and mind can acclimate and adapt. Over time, it will become a lifestyle, a part of everyday life. By this time next year, you’ll see the difference.
-main image courtesy of:dailycaring.com