Happy New Year! It’s time for the New Year to be rung in! People have used this holiday for years to motivate themselves to lose weight. To avoid disappointment, I advise my clients to not make New Year’s resolutions. Although you may have the best intentions when you set out to lose weight or exercise more in the New Year, sometimes life happens and you find yourself back at your old ways. This year, believe that it’s never too late to set healthy, life-changing goals for yourself.
If you’re one of those people who needs to “start over” each new year, let’s take a different approach for 2013. Instead of setting a weight loss or diet goal for the New Year, focus on improving your health and setting weekly fitness and nutrition goals. Set a goal for the week and then go for it! Keep track of your progress and check in with you at the end of each week and mid-week. You can repeat the goal for the next week if you wish. You can also choose another goal in nutrition or fitness for the week. This year’s resolution is not a temporary one.
It’s a lifestyle change. Too many changes at once can lead to burnout before January ends and could even cause you to abandon your commitment. Instead of making drastic changes to your lifestyle, make small changes every day. Slowly work your way to a healthier lifestyle. You’ll feel great if you try these nutrition and fitness goals over the next year.
What to do?
- Increase your daily intake of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. Each day, add a new vegetable or fruit to your daily menu. You can eat it raw or make a new dish with it. Try different cooking methods for your vegetables. You can try different cooking methods, such as steaming, baking, roasting, and barbecuing your vegetables.
- Switch to 100% whole grains. Switch slowly to whole grains if you still eat white bread and pasta. Whole grains are richer in fiber and nutrients, and can keep you fuller longer. If you have difficulty making the change, compromise. If you are making pasta, you can make half the dish with whole wheat pasta and half the regular pasta until it tastes like 100% whole wheat.
- Be careful with your portion sizes. Reduce your portions. This will help you reduce your calorie intake. You may find it difficult to eat enough food if you have a large dinner plate. If you have a lot of food on your plate, you may eat more than you need.
- Keep your eyes on MyPlate. Make a commitment to yourself to follow MyPlate. Half of your plate should contain vegetables and fruits, and the rest should contain a portion of protein (3-4 ounces).
- Limit sweets. There is no need to avoid sweets altogether. Moderation is the key. You can set a goal to limit your sweets intake to one or two times per week, if you love desserts and sweets often. You may find that you are less likely to crave sweets if you limit your intake. Success is achievable by setting small, measurable goals.
- You can get rid of soda and juice. These drinks are high in sugar and can greatly increase your daily caloric intake. A 120-calorie diet (or less) can help you save around 13 pounds per year. Let’s face it, most people don’t drink more than one can of soda per day. Imagine how many extra pounds you can gain from soda alone in a year. Slowly, reduce your soda intake to just one cup per day, then to one cup every other day. For a refreshing drink, substitute water with a squeezed lemon or lime.
- Start a walking program. Start a walking program. Begin slowly and increase your speed and distance gradually. To keep you company, find a walking buddy.
- Make sure you schedule your workouts. Schedule your workouts on the calendar, just like you do a doctor’s visit or a lunch date with friends.
- Plan YOU time. You must ensure that you take care of your basic needs, such as eating and sleeping. Self-care is essential to ensure that all your basic needs are met. It will be easier to listen and take control of your body’s needs for food and exercise.
- Mindful eating is a practice. You have made a vow to not eat junk food this year. Make sure you are mindful of what you eat. Listen to your hunger and fullness signals, and respond accordingly. You shouldn’t eat if you don’t feel hungry.
However, you shouldn’t let your hunger get to the point where you can’t stop eating. Stop halfway through your meal and ask yourself if it is still hungry. If you are still hungry, stop and save the rest. Take one step at a given time. This is the best way to reach your New Year’s goals. You don’t need to resort to quick fixes. You can live a healthy lifestyle by making small changes over the next 12 months.