The number one New Year's resolution revolves around weight loss — ranging from losing those last five pounds to dropping significant amounts of weight. It's easy to say you want to exercise and eat right, but how can you actually achieve it?
Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare, provides some expert advice on sticking to your weight loss goals this year. Remember: Before you start a new workout regime, it's important to have a medical evaluation by your doctor.
1. Lose the fad diet mentality and go for a lifestyle change that involves altering previous eating and exercise habits, and maintaining the new behaviors for good. It may take longer to get to your goal, but it is possible to stay there long-term. No more yo-yo dieting.
2. Start small and be specific. "Instead of saying, 'I want to eat healthier,' say, 'I will eat three servings of fruits and veggies per day,' or 'I will limit sweets to two small portions per week,'" says Hays. The more specific the goal, the easier it is to know how you are progressing.
3. Track your progress. This can help you stay positive about the new actions you are taking. Staying focused on the positive results provides better adherence to your goals. (Food trackers, water trackers and fitness trackers are available to help keep you accountable.)
4. Try simple food actions such as:
- Adding a fruit or vegetable to your lunch to feel fuller faster. Buy a variety of fresh produce to enhance your daily vitamin intake and please your palate.
- Choosing popcorn rather than chips when you get the munchies.
- Reading labels — it's the only way to know exactly what you are eating.
5. Reward yourself for reaching certain milestones and goals. Be sure to give yourself something you enjoy that doesn't conflict with your goal. For example, pick a shopping trip, manicure, massage, etc., rather than your favorite food splurge.
6. Get support. Whether it is through friends and family with similar goals, or a professional, support is a must.
7. Find your internal motivation. Make a list of reasons you want to lose weight and refer to it often. Your "whys" will be your burning drive to stick to your plan during the moment of temptation.
Losing excess weight is one of the most beneficial ways to improve your health. With a little planning, you can reverse your habits, take off the weight and keep it off for good.