For many Canadians, ringing in the New Year also involves the annual tradition of reflecting on self-improvement and the making of New Year’s Resolutions. Among the most popular resolutions made every year is the decision to improve health by losing weight and getting in shape.
Here are a few things you can do right now to slim your waistline and help get you back on track to forming new and health-promoting lifestyle habits:
- Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. This stimulates your metabolism and appetite. You should wake up feeling hungry. If you currently don't eat breakfast right away, then start with this simple step tomorrow.
- Keep a food log. A food log enables you to increase your awareness of what you’re putting in your body, how you feel after eating it, and then give you clues to your own habits and eating patterns. It also keeps you accountable to yourself. Better yet, have someone else review it because as we all know, whenever someone else is looking at what we eat, we eat that much better! If you have to write it down, you may think twice about eating it in the first place. According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, keeping a food diary can double a person's weight loss. It may take 5 minutes of your time every day, but your efforts will be well rewarded.
- Decide and make a commitment to yourself and more importantly —keep your word. Most of us wouldn’t dream of promising something to someone and then not delivering on it. Why should promises to us be any different? We all deserve care and attention and it’s important that we include ourselves on the list of people we care for. We are all worth the time it takes to choose and prepare wholesome foods for ourselves or to book in time for a walk or an exercise class at the gym. When you schedule a business meeting in your calendar, it happens. The same thing could apply to exercise – just schedule it in! When we treat ourselves with care and respect, we will have more of our best selves to share with others.
- Set small and achievable goals. Create short-term wins for yourself; don’t just hope it’ll happen. Without wins, too many people give up or actively resist change. Creating short-term winnable goals is an active process, which includes recognizing success and rewarding it. For example, Step One: using the breakfast example, start with deciding to have breakfast for the next number of days (that number depends on what you think you can realistically manage: if it’s just one day, start with that. If you feel a week or longer is attainable then set that goal). Step two: Decide and commit. Step three: Keep your promise to yourself and achieve the goal. Recognize your effort by rewarding yourself with an activity that supports your health goals: pamper yourself with a candle-lit bubble bath, extend your walk by another 10 minutes, get that book you’ve been wanting to read, or treat yourself to an extra yoga class.
- Post reminders to yourself about why you want to get back on track. When something tempts us from our best intentions to eat well or go and exercise, our mind can instantly come up with reasons to justify why it would be OK to stray from our original plan. In that moment, we may forget why it is we had set a goal for ourselves until afterwards when we remember and then feel discouraged that we got off track. Try posting visual reminders for yourself that will help keep you on the path towards your goal: a photo, some inspirational words or a meaningful object posted where you’ll see it often can work wonders: on the fridge, the mirror, on your phone or computer screen or even the dashboard of your car.
- Eat regular meals and snacks every 2-4 hours throughout the day. When you eat regularly, it helps to regulate your blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling full throughout the day. When you skip a meal, your blood sugar levels drop. When this happens, you are more likely to consume higher glycemic carbohydrates (sugar) throughout the day. This perpetuates blood sugar highs and lows, causing you to crave more sugar and thus gain more weight.
Written by Jennifer Sexton, RHN., Patricia Jean-Vézina Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer