We are one month into the new year and many of us have set New Year’s resolutions for ourselves, but how many of us will have already abandoned those resolutions by the beginning of March? How many times have you declared that this is the year that you will lose weight and get healthy? Let’s admit, it is much easier said than done, but there are a few tips that can help you stick to the “oh so common” resolution of getting healthy every year.
First, don’t try to dive in all at once. Take it slow. Set small goals and build upon those goals. Avoid trying to do too much too fast. When starting a new exercise regimen, make sure to check with your health care provider to ensure that you are healthy enough to exercise. Keep in mind that there is no need to spend money on a gym membership. The easiest and most cost-efficient way to exercise is by going for a walk. Walking is free and almost everyone can do it. Just make sure you find a safe location to walk. Remember the magic number is at least 30 minutes daily. For optimal intensity, you should be able to walk and talk with ease but not be able to sing with ease. Keep in mind that any form of physical activity is considered exercise no matter if it’s washing the car, raking leaves, or mowing the lawn (with a push mower), as long as you’re doing it for at least 30 minutes per day. Your chosen form of exercise can also be broken up into increments throughout the day. Do not forget to add in a little strength/resistance training a couple days a week to help build muscle and increase fat burning.
Have you ever heard the saying that “You can’t outrun a bad diet”? This is so true. Few people can continue to eat an unhealthy diet while exercising and still lose weight and keep it off. To be successful at losing weight and adopting a healthier lifestyle, you need to both exercise and eat a healthy diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Try to avoid lots of processed and prepackaged foods and fast foods. Increase fiber intake which helps sustain you throughout the day and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Always remember to drink plenty of water and limit sweetened beverages and snacks including sports drinks and granola bars which can be loaded with added sugar. Choose healthier snacks like fruits and nuts instead of simple carb choices like potato chips, cookies, and candy. It is also helpful to avoid fried foods and choose lean sources of protein like skinless poultry, fish, and legumes (beans and peas). One of the most important things you can do for your health is to ALWAYS read nutrition labels and control your portion size. When dining out, pack half of your meal away at the beginning of the meal to avoid overeating, avoid buffet-style restaurants and choose water as your beverage. For side options, choose a salad instead of french fries and if you must have dessert, be sure to share it with someone else.
I challenge you to keep the promises that you make to yourself year after year. You only have one body, so let’s aim to be our best self this new year. There will be bumps along the way but don’t give up! Just know that the reward is something great.
Camesha Grant, MEd, CHES,
Community Health Educator