Several weeks ago, many people made a new year’s resolution to eat healthier, lose weight, eat out less, exercise more or quit smoking to promote a better body. Unfortunately, these healthy habits often get kicked to the curb around February due to all the unhealthy temptations attacking our senses, especially with the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day.
With year-round celebrations, it can be hard to stick to the healthy lifestyle you created at the beginning of the year, but Jessica Anderson, RD, LD, diabetes educator at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center in Corpus Christi, offers the following tips to stay on course:
- Have fun with exercise while avoiding burning yourself out. Exercising for hours every day can burn out your body and spirit. For those not use to exercise, start with a goal of 30 minutes daily and gradually increase the amount you exercise every few weeks. Also, try different workouts, machines and classes, Anderson says. A variety of exercise not only prevents exercise boredom but also uses different muscles, challenging the body and leading to better results.
- Share your new, healthy lifestyle with a friend or spouse. Exercise goes fast with a buddy, and a partner can provide you the support and encouragement when you’re in a slump. Eating healthy with someone makes it easier to avoid unhealthy foods, Anderson says.
- Plan ahead. Think through your week and schedule when and what you’ll eat. Look for unhealthy traps. If the lounge at work has leftover holiday candy, eat lunch at your desk or outside. If your work crew eats out on Thursdays, know the restaurant, review its menu, and decide on a healthy dish before you go. If you work late one night of the week, cook enough food the night before and take for leftovers. If you have big family dinners, plan an activity with the dinner.
- Avoid skipping meals. Skipping meals slows the metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories or energy) and can prevent weight loss, Anderson says.
- Be a kid! Use a small plate for meals, order off the kid’s menu if possible and play outside! Reward yourself for all the hard work you’ve done, such as a treat once a week. Taking small portions of sweets will satisfy your sweet tooth but prevent eating too many unhealthy calories.
- It’s very easy to destroy healthy meals with toppings and sauces. For example, broccoli can turn from a low-calorie side to high-calorie side by adding cheese. The same goes with salads and dressings, tacos and sour cream, green beans and butter. Ask for them on the side, and be cautious with how much you add, Anderson says. You can always add flavorful low-calorie toppings such as lemon and lime juice, almonds, herbs, hot sauce or picante sauce.
- Set realistic goals. Your ultimate goal may be to lose 30 pounds, but it takes time to achieve a long-term goal, Anderson says. Keep that in mind and set “mini-goals” (i.e., two pounds a week).