Feeling like you’ve overdone it over the holidays? It’s a common feeling. After all the celebrating and eating all the holiday foods we enjoy we are left with that all too familiar post-holiday chubby feeling.
Savvy marketers know this is the prime time to prey on our feelings of after-Christmas bloat. We are bombarded with diets, detoxes, and sales on exercise gear and equipment, enticing us to jump on those New Year’s Resolutions, and buy whatever product they are selling.
The problem is that for most of us those resolutions don’t last and by the time Super Bowl rolls around that motivation and desire to get healthier has fallen by the wayside and we have reverted back to our old habits. Sound familiar?
What if you did it differently this year? Instead of jumping on the resolution bandwagon of drastic change only to lose steam in just a few short weeks, what if you changed your perspective? What if you focused on gradually changing your habits to incorporating more foods that are better for you and moving your body more? Instead of focusing on what you can’t or shouldn’t have, what if you focused on two or three things each week that you could include more of, whether it is more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains instead of white, processed grains, more water instead of soda or other calorie-filled drinks, or more sleep?
Gradual lifestyle changing goals are a better, more lasting approach to getting healthier and losing weight. Extreme changes may seem more exciting, but typically don’t last.
Here is a checklist of healthy habits to help guide you in making your own goals. Figure out which ones need improvement for you and write down what you can do specifically to make positive change in that area.
□ Commit. Just because you are making small changes doesn’t mean your commitment needs to be any less. Make up your mind that you are ready to change and you are willing to give 100% to making small changes in your lifestyle to create healthier habits. No diets or fads, just changing gradually making healthy habits become your way of life.
□ Write It Down. Keeping a food diary is one of the most tried and true, clinically proven ways to lose weight and keep it off. Seeing in black and white what you are eating and how much makes you aware and able to make necessary changes.
□ Keep Balance In Mind. Optimize your nutrition by eating a balance of protein, good carbs, and healthy fat at meals and snacks. This will boost weight loss by regulating your blood sugars, keeping energy high, and reducing cravings.
□ Eat Often. Eating every 3 to 5 hours based on a healthy balance of good carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat at each meal and snack. This should be based on true hunger and knowing your body’s cues. It’s not about being on a schedule but instead about eating the right foods in the right combination and starting to notice your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues.
□ Eat Breakfast Every Day. Have a balanced breakfast with some healthy whole grain carbs, lean protein, and a fruit or vegetable within an hour of waking up – every day.
□ Choose Quality, Nutrient-Dense Foods. Base your daily meal planning on real foods consisting of healthy portions of good whole grains (3+ servings/day), fruits (3-5), vegetables (3-5), and beans versus prepackaged, processed “food.”
□ Plan Ahead. Having a plan ahead of time will set you up for success. Make healthy eating convenient. Keep healthy foods and snacks on hand and ready to go. Make a grocery list on the weekend and plan for at least 4 to 5 days to have healthy foods on hand. If you don’t have it you are more likely to go out or make not so great choices. Same goes for incorporating more exercise, schedule physical activity ahead of time.
□ Drink Plenty of Water. Make water your main choice of beverage and drink it all throughout the day.
□ Get Enough Sleep. Shoot for 8 hours of sleep per night. Not being rested affects our food choices and exercise habits in many ways. Getting enough rest will make you more apt to choose healthy foods and has a positive effect on metabolism.
□ De-stress. Stress and emotions can have a huge influence on food choices. Try prayer, meditation, yoga, Pilates, and deep breathing exercises for stress.
□ Be Mindful. Think about the food you eat. Read the ingredients and look at the nutrition info. Think about food when you are eating- sit down, don’t watch T.V., surf the internet, talk on the phone, etc. Really taste your food. Pay attention to hunger and fullness.
□ Be Physically Active. Find what works for you and most importantly what you enjoy and do it consistently. 150 minutes per week is recommended for good health and 300 minutes per week is recommended for weight loss. Start small and build up over time.
It may seem like a simple list, but these are the very basic habits you need to incorporate. If you are seriously motivated to change your habits and that number on the scale, for good, these basic habits are a great place to start. Remember it’s not about perfection or all-or-nothing, but instead about everyday working toward healthier habits that last a lifetime, not just a couple of weeks.