Have you resolved to lose weight and be fit in 2014? Do you want to shed those extra winter pounds and feel vibrant and energized?
Instead of starting 2014 with a deprivation diet, think about making permanent lifestyle changes that will trim your waistline and improve your health.
Follow these strategies to change your habits and meet your health and fitness goals for 2014.
1. Plan your meals - not only what you will eat, but how much you will eat as well. Take the time once a week to plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, including proper portion sizes. As you shop for groceries, only buy the amount you need.
Prepare your meals ahead of time and package them in appropriate portion sizes. If you are sharing dishes at dinner, take an appropriate amount, and move the serving dishes away, or remove them after everyone has served themselves.
2. As you shop, choose foods that have the lowest amount of sugar. Sugar is addictive. The more you eat it, the more you crave it. Over time, your tastes adjust and you have to eat more sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth. Break the vicious sugar-cycle and shop wisely.
3. Don’t rely on artificial sweeteners. They can cause you to crave sweet treats as well. Just because a food is made with an artificial sweetener doesn’t mean it is healthy or low-calorie.
4. Start each day off right by eating a healthy breakfast to give your body the fuel it needs.
5. Eat five small meals instead of three large meals. Plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks.
6. Snack on high-protein, low-fat foods to keep you full throughout the day. If you snack on nuts, be sure to have an appropriate portion. Even though they are good for you, nuts are calorie-dense, so a little goes a long way.
7. Allow yourself small, occasional servings of your favourite treats, instead of trying to say goodbye to them forever.
8. Focus on being active instead of “exercising”. Take a few trips up and down the stairs or go for a walk during your break at work. Carry your groceries in the grocery store instead of using a cart. Find ways to be active throughout the day and embrace an active lifestyle.
9. Try different kinds of exercise to avoid burnout. Don’t force yourself to stick to one program. Take a few different styles of exercise classes at the gym or try different styles of exercise videos at home. Incorporate outdoor activities as well, like bike riding, roller blading, or skiing.
10. Make activity a part of your new lifestyle for good. Plan for at least 30 minutes of activity each day - from a vigorous walk with the dog to a yoga class at the local recreational center.
11. Do the math. Be sure that you are active enough to burn more calories than you are taking in on a regular basis.
12. Joining a weight loss program or group will increase your ability to stick to your new, healthy lifestyle. Support from a family member or friend is equally valuable. Try to find others who have similar goals and encourage one another. Share healthy recipes and find ways to be active together.
13. Stay focused on why you want to lose weight and be healthy. Put up reminders on your refrigerator, in your home exercise area, or in your gym bag.
14. If you make poor eating choices or stop exercising for a few days, allow yourself to start again - without guilt. Remember that changing your lifestyle is a process, not something that happens magically overnight.
15. Allow yourself to enjoy family and holiday gatherings - in a healthy way. Take small portions of your favourite dishes and don’t go back for seconds. Indulge in one sensibly-sized portion of a dessert that you really enjoy.
Walk away from the buffet or dinner table when you are full and offer to help in the kitchen, play with the kids, play a game of touch football, or go for a walk.