We’re closing out 2013 and quickly getting ready for the new year. With that comes New Year’s resolutions, including the number-one resolution so many of us make: lose weight and get healthy.
I love celebrating with family and friends during the holidays and enjoy all of the traditional holiday fare. What I don’t enjoy, though, is seeing the eggnog, cookies and gravy around my middle, following me into the new year.
Usually, I can resist temptation by asking myself, “Is this food making me healthier and helping me live longer, or is this food making my backside bigger?” Why doesn’t this work during the holidays, when cheesecake, cookies and pecan pie are on the menu?
Some studies have shown that during the holidays, we’re more apt to indulge in order to avoid hurting the feelings of those who’ve gone to some trouble to prepare special meals and treats. We’re also in a festive mood and more willing to make exceptions to our normal eating rules. Simply becoming more aware of what we’re eating when we’re outside of our routines can help limit the damage. But what about after the holidays?
Here are my 10 tips for losing weight and staying trim in 2014:
While there is a saying that “you can’t outrun a bad diet,” that doesn’t mean that physical activity should be ignored. Exercise must be a part of any weight-loss program. The good news about this is it doesn’t have to be extreme. Simply set a goal of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on most days. One of the great things about being in Jacksonville is the year round weather and closeness to beaches makes it able to workout outside if that’s your interests.
Reduce your caloric intake. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but for most people (especially after an indulgent holiday season) lowering your calories will go a long way to increasing your weight loss.
Watch your portions
Do not overeat. Prepare yourself in advance to eat smaller portions. If eating out, simply ask your server to box half your meal ahead of time. Then you have automatically limited your portion and you have lunch the next day.
Use smaller and colorful plates at home. Studies suggest that the bigger the plate, the more food we place on it to fill up the space. Studies also suggest that the color of our plates affects the amount of food we place on it. Smaller plates and colors that coincide with healthy foods trick us into eating smaller portions and healthier foods. So if your goal is to eat more greens, eat on a green plate.
With our hectic lifestyles, it’s easy to scarf down our food. When you eat too quickly, you often eat beyond your level of fullness. You also tend to enjoy your meals less. Be more aware of your eating and enjoy each bite. Set your fork down after each bite. Slowing down will allow your body to sense satisfaction and allow you to enjoy your food more.
Address your emotions
It’s common for people to eat poorly when they’re stressed. But eating when your emotions are intense only adds to stress and doesn’t do anything to address the actual stressor. When you feel stressed and are craving an unhealthy snack, stop and write down what is going on. Decide that you will do something else in the meantime – go for a walk or take a relaxing bath. Don’t use eating as a way to deal with stress., boredom, anger or other negative emotions.
Choose your calories carefully
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are high in nutrition and low in calories and fat. Vegetables and fruits are loaded with vitamins and filling fiber, so make them a key part of most of your meals. Another thing to be aware of is that fat-free does not mean calorie-free. A product labeled fat-free can still be packed with calories and other unhealthy chemicals. If you can opt for real, whole foods that have had very little processing, you’ll be better off.
Watch liquid calories
Many calories lurk in everyday drinks. A Café Mocha with whipped cream is worth 260 calories and 12 grams of fat, and that’s using non-fat milk. A daily soda with your lunch is almost 200 extra empty calories of sugar. Replace your liquids with diet drinks or, better yet, water. Also try to drink a large a glass of water before every meal, which will help keep you hydrated and feeling full.
Keep healthier snacks on hand so you’ll be less likely to load up on sugary foods with no nutritive value. Fresh fruits, low-fat yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots and celery sticks, or low-fat whole grain crackers are some healthier alternatives. Remove temptation by removing unhealthy snacks in your kitchen.
Hold on to your new weight
Maintaining a healthy weight means changing your lifestyle, not trying out a one-shot diet. Keep up good eating habits, keep exercising and continue working on the emotional triggers that tempt you to overeat. Keep a journal to track how you’re eating and how you’re feeling. Charting your progress will help you stay on track and maintain the healthy new you well beyond the New Year!
Good luck with your resolutions!