You’ve made your New Year’s Resolution and announced it to the world – at least the LLB world. One week into the New Year, what small changes or steps have you taken to start making it a reality? Perhaps you don’t really know how to begin.
Here are five essential things you can do this week to begin making purposeful changes and jumpstart your resolve.
1. Start tracking what you eat as you eat it. Studies show that people who record their daily food intake lose more weight compared to those who don’t. The act of writing it down and reviewing it repeatedly really focuses our attention on what we are putting into our bodies, how much and how often. Nothing will move you into a state of “mindful eating” faster.
Use whatever method works best for you – a notebook, a calendar, a computer program, even a cell phone app. Think of it as an old-fashioned diary, for your eyes only, and be really honest. “Dear Diary – Today I ate ______. If you can, include the serving size and calories for each item.
Calories count, and if you have no idea what your daily intake is, you really can’t determine the effect your menu is having on your weight loss goal. It’s even possible that you aren’t getting enough calories in your diet. I know that’s hard to believe but too few calories can impede your weight loss progress just as much as too many can.
To figure out how many calories you need, go to www.mypyramid.gov and choose “Get a personalized plan”
2. Eat less, move more. Long term weight loss success relies on eating habits and exercise. Since most of us aren’t doing a job that involves a lot of physical labor, we have to consciously build activity into our day. Your goal should be 60 minutes of “break a sweat and get your face red” exercise most days of the week!
As long as you are getting your heart rate up, it doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do. Try to vary your workout routine so you (and your muscles) don’t get bored. Make a backup plan for cold weather or rainy days if your usual plan is outdoors.
3. Plan ahead. If you don’t plan it, then it probably won’t happen. This includes exercise, meals and even snacks. I’ve done an entire post on the importance of organized eating so go back, and check it out. Make a weekly list of your meals, and build your grocery list to include only the ingredients you need to adhere to your plan so you don’t throw in unnecessary extras. It saves on your waist line and your wallet.
4. Be very careful with restaurant eating. Planning ahead is just as important when you’re eating out as it is at home. Even with the best of intentions, it can be tough to make good choices at a restaurant. It’s too easy to be swayed by the bold colors, fragrant aromas, the oversized portions and of course the joy of sampling each others entrees.
If you do eat out, take a minute to review the menu online and make a selection before you go. Try to get the nutrition information to help you make a better choice. It should be available on the restaurant’s website. Another great resource is www.calorieking.com
I know that seems a bit strict, but we are all here to make some pretty major changes and that requires discipline, not deprivation.
Here’s a secret to manage monstrous portion sizes: ask for a take out box as soon as you get your meal, and divide it in half for your lunch tomorrow.
5. Rethink your drink. Believe it not, we are drinking ourselves into obesity. Flavored coffees, regular sodas, lemonade, sports drinks and sweet tea all contain lots of empty calories that easily go unnoticed when we’re going about our day. There is even a study that correlates rising obesity rates in the U.S. with American’s increasing consumption of liquid calories.
When we drink our calories instead of eat them, we don’t feel as full as fast, leaving us more vulnerable to satisfy a rumbling in our tummy with a little snack here and there.
Most high calorie beverages don’t have any nutritional benefit anyway, so just get rid of them! The best beverage options are water, skim milk and occasional sugar free beverages and fruit juice (1/2 cup at a time).
I can’t wait to hear about your progress this week and hope some of these tips are the key to keeping you on track.