Get on track BEFORE the holidays
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By Emily Mclaughlin
Being healthy is not about dieting, it is about lifestyle changes. Small changes in the what you consume, how you exercise and how you manage stress can make all the difference in your health and physique.
Get a headstart on your New Years resolution and set goals before the food-filled holiday season begins. Starting now will help you learn control and help you keep off the pounds during the winter months.
Follow these tips to get on track and start the journey to a healthy and happy you.
Find the problem: You might say, “My resolution is to lose weight,” but it is important to find out what is preventing you from losing weight now. If the problem is over-eating say, “My resolution is to get a handle on portion control.” If you are concerned with the foods you are eating, ask yourself whether your diet is filled with saturated fats, sugars and sodium. Lastly, ask, “Am I getting enough exercise?” Factoring the recommended 30-minutes of exercise into your daily routine could be all it takes. Most likely, you are dealing with a combination of these problems, so write them all down and be specific.
Set a goal: Diets don’t work–we are talking about lifestyle changes here. Therefore, set a short-term goal, a long-term goal and something in between. When it comes to short-term goals, focus on something easy and small. A short-term goal might be to cut sugary drinks and salty snacks out of your diet. Losing weight should not be something you focus on for the foreseeable future–it is something that happens months from now. Be modest and say, “I want to lose 5 pounds 2 months from now, and 10 pounds 4 months from now.” The faster you lose, the more likely you are to gain in back; If you focus on changing your bad habits, the weight will come off naturally. Finally, for long-term goals tell yourself, “This time next year, I will be able to (insert something physically challenging, something that seems impossible now.” Write these goals down and make them real. Put them somewhere you will see them daily, and mark your calendar will important goal dates.
Clean house: When you are trying to turn over a new leaf, remove all evil temptations from your life. If you are overhauling your diet, give the cookies away, donate sodium-filled soups to the food pantry and bring the bag of chips to a party. Do a sweep of your house, apartment or dorm room and clean from top to bottom. This will help you feel like you are starting fresh.
Know your foods and be educated: Understand necessary daily values and ask yourself if your diet is up to par. The numbers and measurements below are based on an average adult consuming 2,000 calories per day. Know what foods provide what values and manipulate your diet so that you feel full and energized throughout the day.
Count calories: I know that this seems meticulous and, well, annoying, but this is a vital first step. Calculate how many calories you are consuming in a given day. For the average person, 2,000 calories is necessary to maintain current weight. If you are an active individual, you might even need a little more than this. When starting out, trim calories down to 2,000. Get a feel for how much you can eat in a day to maintain your weight. Once you have a handle on that, cut 200-300 calories out of your diet. For some people this could be as easy as trading soda for water, a bag of chips for carrots and using greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Check out this article on easy food swaps.
Track your progress: Know your weight, record your calories and write down your exercise progress. You don’t have to be too meticulous with this, but write enough so that you can find where you have gone wrong if you don’t notice any changes in your health or physique. Keeping track of your weight will also help you catch when the pounds are creeping back on during the winter months. Catching your weight increase early will allow for an easy fix–just a simple adjustment in diet and exercise.
Portion control: Most American are eating too much, according to the USDA and Professor Shetty (shout-out to Food Science 102). Plan out your meals and measure your portions each time you eat. You will be surprised at how satisfied you are after eating the recommended portion size.
Stay focused: Okay, this is going to be extremely hard during the holidays with stuffing and cheesecake calling your name. A holiday feast could spell 3,000+ calories for your body, says Women’s Health. Remember to keep your eyes on the prize and don’t be tempted by the tasty treats. Surround yourself with family, friends and good conversation to keep your mind off the amazing food.
Reward yourself: Even though this article talks a lot about control and sacrifices, rewards are important too! Eat consciously during pre-dinner and post-dinner, then go ahead and eat that sliver of cheesecake–you deserve it. However, exercise control and stop there. Don’t let yourself have ‘reward days,’ only ‘reward treats.’
For more tips to help you get through the winter month, stayed tuned with Her Campus and check Stay Healthy, Stay Happy regularly.