The new year is here! While many, many people plan to use this landmark time to get healthier or lose weight, the problem with these goals is that they are difficult to maintain. Most people want to see a significant weight loss within a few months or hope to change eating habits within a few weeks. Unfortunately, weight loss can be more complicated than that, but here are some tips to help you reach your goals.
Set Realistic Goals
First, choose a resolution that is attainable. For example, set a time frame that within 3 months, you will lose 10 pounds. This would be a healthy way to lose weight, about 1-2 pounds per week. It is possible that you could actually lose more weight, which would make you feel that losing weight is easy. If you were trying to be healthier either through diet or exercise, set a more realistic goal. For instance, plan to exercise for 30 minutes 2-3 days per week, and gradually increase throughout the year. I always tell my patients to set goals for the week or month. When trying to eat healthier, make small changes, such as eating one fruit per day, and increase as this becomes a daily habit.
To help you meet your resolutions, you also need support within your everyday life. While family and friends are a great support system, you also need to "redo" your house and office space. Try to eliminate all the "junk" foods or foods that you have a weakness for. This could include chips, crackers, cookies, bread, or the granola bar that you have at your desk every afternoon. Replace these items with healthier alternatives in your refrigerator, pantry, and at work. Consider including yogurt (Greek yogurt will provide more protein, making you feel fuller longer), whole grain crackers or bread, high fiber cereal (already portioned in separate containers or bags), oatmeal, fresh fruit or vegetables, and water. In the last few months, I started adding yogurt to my daily routine. As someone who does not particularly like the taste, I now have it almost daily, helping me resist my neighbor's candy jar.
Ease into Exercise
Additionally, you can try to set a time to exercise with friends or family. If this is difficult, try to have your workout attire ready to go each day as a reminder to take action. Take breaks or walks during your work day to help get in the 30 minutes that you might not have time for later in the day. Once you do this for a couple of weeks, it will become more habitual. Most cell phones and other technology can help you set an alarm that will remind you to exercise.
Make Your Health a Priority
Perhaps the most difficult thing to do is to make all of this work in your hectic schedule. It usually helps to maintain a list of things you need to do. To help with your cooking, try to plan a menu each week so you will know exactly what you need at the grocery store - and to minimize the possibility of ordering take-out. If you must eat lunch or dinner out, remember that healthy choices, such as salads or wraps, are better options. However, moderation is also OK. Occasionally having the dinner that you enjoy will not hinder your ultimate weight loss goal.
In sum, don't try to put too much on your plate (so to speak). Take each day as it comes, and do not get frustrated if you slip up every now and then. Don't be afraid to start again! Once you establish healthy habits, the rest will be that much easier. Treat yourself for reaching each goal or staying on track for a certain amount of time. Good luck with your resolutions!
Rhea Li is a Registered Dietitian who received her Bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Master's degree in Public Health from the University of Texas. She has a special interest in working with children and has received her certification in pediatric weight management. Currently, she is working on a research study to determine the importance of nutrition in pediatric cancer patients. In the past, she has worked with pregnant women and their children. In her spare time, she enjoys being with family, exercising, traveling and of course, eating. Rhea can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.