The Best of Diet Intentions
January’s nearing an end (already?!). How is everyone doing with those diet and exercise resolutions? What I see more often than not is that many of us have the best intentions and try to change too many things all at one time. The beginning of a new year is a great time to start fresh, especially after an indulgent holiday season. Making resolutions helps us get back on track by giving us focus.
However, trying to change too much too fast often leads down an unsuccessful road. It becomes a difficult challenge to keep up with changing so many habits at once. We often quit out of frustration before we’ve given our bodies any time to adjust and change for the better.
Let’s Make This Year Different.
Start small and increase change as you go. Small changes can make a big difference over time! If you really want to see a change in your weight, your muscle mass, your energy, or your activity level, it needs to be a change you can continue long-term (I’m talking well past March, people). Short fixes get us into trouble, often leading to weight gain or injury. Here are some tips to getting started on those resolutions and staying strong throughout the year:
1. AVOID FAD DIETS.
They do not work. Let’s face it. They are often very restrictive, not tasty, and no fun. When a diet cuts out a whole food group, like carbohydrates, or promises you’ll lose 10 pounds in 10 days, run the other way. You may lose some weight initially, but once you stop following whatever plan you try, you’ll gain that weight back plus 5 pounds. That’s a lot of work (and agony) wasted to ultimately get a result that is the opposite of the goal.
2. START SMALL.
Keep it realistic. Choose one thing to change. ONE. Make a timeline of how long you will do this to get really good at it before you add a second change. Make sure the change is specific and realistic. Increasing how much water you drink is a great place to start. If you drink 8 ounces per day now, it’s not very realistic to think you will start drinking 100 ounces tomorrow and everyday thereafter. Start with 24 ounces per day and do this every day for one week. Next week, increase to 36 ounces per day. Continue this pattern until you reach your goal. Then add your next change, like eating at least 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables everyday. Next, add in some exercise. If you’re a couch potato, start with 2 days per week, not 6. It’s too easy for us to quit activities that seem like a chore. (You can certainly work up to 6 though if that’s your personal goal!).
3. FIND A BUDDY.
Reach out to a friend or family member that’s trying to work on similar goals. It gives us someone to get ideas from and to lend support when we need it. Having someone check in on how things are going holds you accountable.
4. MAKE IT FUN!
Choose to eat healthier foods you like and do exercise activities you enjoy. If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you don’t have to eat them! There are plenty of other veggies to choose from so pick those that taste good to you. If running makes you miserable, use other activities you actually like to get your heart pumping. Try a Zumba class or a Pilates video. Play tennis with a friend or go for a walk with your kids. Try them all! Continue with the one you like best.
Don’t forget that there are people out there ready and willing to help you get started, or restarted, on improving your health. Work with our registered dietitians to get an individualized plan for healthy eating and exercise, based on your body and your goals.