The first step is to take a look at what your nutrition and exercise habits have been like for the last 12 months.
Think about questions like these and write down your answers in a notebook so that you can look back at them again a year from now:
- How does your weight compare with a year ago?
- Do you feel healthy and have a lot of energy or are you tired all the time?
- Do you take vitamins or other nutritional supplements?
- Do you eat at home most of the time? If so, what types of foods? Whole fresh foods, boxed foods or TV dinners?
- If you eat in a restaurant, what types of restaurants do you go to and what types of foods do you choose?
- How physically active are you? Do you exercise regularly?
- Do you eat healthy size portions, or do you stuff yourself with every meal?
- Do you smoke?
- How much alcohol do you drink each week?
The next step is to set goals.
- Do you want to lose weight?
- Do you want to be able to run up and down your stairway without becoming winded?
- Do you want to reduce cholesterol or lower your blood pressure?
Decide what you really want to achieve for your health and diet over the next month and over the next year.
One good goal for your first month could be to resolve to take your lunch to work four days per week for each week this month instead of eating lunch in restaurants every day.
Another example of a monthly goal would be to resolve to walk for 30 minutes four days per week each week this month.
The next step is to determine your nutritional needs. Here just some ideas you might want to consider:
- How many calories do you need to eat each day to reach your weight gain or weight loss goal?
- How do your eating patterns fit your lifestyle?
- Do you feel better with three large meals per day or five smaller meals per day?
- Will you continue to eat in restaurants often?
- What types of fruits and vegetables do you like?
To stick with your new diet, you'll want to include foods you enjoy. If you love hamburgers, that's OK. Make them at home with whole grain rolls and cut down the size of the hamburger patty, or use ground turkey. Add lots of lettuce, onion, and tomato. Add a salad instead of fries.
Learn which foods you can substitute for the unhealthy foods you've been eating. Here are some ideas:
- Choose crunchy raw green beans instead of chips and serve them with a little of your favorite dip.
- Replace high fat hots with soy dogs.
- Choose whole grain breads and pasta instead of white bread and white pasta.
- Skip the sugary desserts and have a small dish of fresh berries with a dab of whipped cream or non-fat whipped topping...add a sprinkling of walnuts on top.
- Use lemon juice instead of salad dressing.
- Choose low fat ground turkey instead of high fat ground beef.
- When you shop for healthy foods, use a shopping list and stay away from the snack food aisles and the prepackaged foods aisles as much as possible.
- Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, lean meats, fish and legumes. Avoid foods high in saturated fats, sodium, trans fats and sugar.
- Cooking methods are also important for healthy nutrition. Sautéing is better than deep-frying your foods. Frying foods adds fats and calories and doesn't add any nutrition.
- Steam your vegetables instead of boiling them to mush. Steaming will preserve more of the vitamins found in the vegetables. When you cook your healthy meals at home, be sure to make a little bit extra to save as leftovers to take to work or school as a healthy lunch the next day.
The next step to a healthier new you is getting enough exercise.
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you need to get out and get moving. Walking, running, aerobic exercise and weight lifting are all great options. Working with a qualified fitness professional is the best and safest way to get started and stick with a regular exercise program.
Getting started and staying on road to a healhier new you is not so easy. Many of us will hit road-blocks due to busy schedules, loss of motivation and weight loss plateaus.
I hope that I give you enough tips, ideas and motivation for you get started. But I don't want to leave you alone. Join me in the next New Year Resolution Start-Fast-Finish-Strong Challenge. Check out the group program, 100 Day Challenge and your personal strategic plan by visiting http://bit.ly/buTskW .
Wish you a Merry Fitness and Happy New Year!