At the start of the New Year, the majority of us vow to shed pounds or exercise more. And yet, too few of us accomplish our goals much past January. So what's the trick to sticking to a weight-loss plan? We asked Jim White, R.D., ACSM EP, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia, for his tips.
Start small. Write down doable goals--walking 1,000 extra steps, eating one more serving of veggies--and set down a reasonable date (say, a month from now). Then re-assess the goal at the end of that time frame. The more tangible your resolutions are, the better chance you have of carrying them out.
Sweep out the pantry. If you have high-calorie snacks that you love to indulge in, clean them out. Same goes for the freezer. You’re less likely to go out and buy these eats if you want to chow down, and you can't gorge on what's not in your house.
Pre-package your snacks. You know those baggies that hold a single serving size? Use them to store a serving size of nuts, baked chips, dried fruit, popcorn, or whatever your (healthy) snack of choice is. Then reach for the portion-controlled bag instead snacking mindlessly from a bigger bag.
Build muscle the easy way. The stronger your muscles, the more fat you'll burn. And you don't have to join a gym or even lift weights. Take five minutes to do some weight-bearing exercises using your body: for instance, planks, wall sits, and push-ups. You don't even need to get out of your PJs to do these!
Don't deny yourself. If you do, you'll just get frustrated. Instead, plan to cheat at one meal a week. In fact, calorie-rich weekly cheat meals boost your metabolism. The trick is to keep it to ONE meal a week, not a weekend's worth.
Down-size desserts. You can have sweets if you keep the portion size small. Top your (bite-sized) treat with fresh or frozen fruit or nuts (or both) to make it healthier.
Walk a few extra steps. Walking can add years to your life, but you don't have to enter a 5K walk-run to reap the benefits. If you're at the mall, park on the opposite side from the store you plan on going to. Dogs are a good excuse to get out, but even if yours stays in the backyard, you can stroll around while it does its business. Or simply find a neighbor or your mate to join you in the morning or evening. Remember, start small. A 10-minute stroll twice a week can kickstart a good habit. Bonus: Being out in the cold turbocharges fat burning!
Add veggies to stews and soups. If you're not a vegetable lover, cook them into dishes you already love. Toss cauliflower into your mac n' cheese, spinach or kale into soups, carrots or squash into spaghetti sauce. You'll add fiber, which will keep you regular, as well as antioxidants.
Be mindful. Cortisol, the stress hormone, encourages your body to store fat, especially around the belly. Plus, many of us eat to ease stress. So this year, take a minute or two each day to focus on your surroundings. No, you don't have to meditate. Simply listening to the birds as you walk to your car is a form of mindfulness. Or focus on your breathing for 30 seconds or so before you start the day. Your body--and brain--will thank you!
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