Health & Wellness - How to make a Healthy Lifestyle Stick:
Are you still going strong with your New Years resolution to start a healthy lifestyle? If so, congrats! If not, it’s ok, you can always start again. This time you will be armed with 10 tips to keep you on track.
I didn’t always eat right and exercise on a regular schedule. There were a few failures and I was quickly back on the downward spiral of my old habits, but through trial and error I learned how to make it stick. Below are a few things that worked for me.
1. What is your why?
You really have to dig deep. Why do you want to start a healthy lifestyle? Knowing your why is the one thing that will guide you toward success. Is it to lose weight for a high school reunion or to fit in that wedding dress, or does it stretch further? I always thought my why was just about me, wanting to lose a few pounds to fit into the jeans I used to wear. The problem was, when I veered off track it didn’t matter because it was only a pair of jeans.
But when I really dug deep, it was about me wanting to be there for my family for the long haul. I was a new mom and I knew I wanted to be there for every moment of my new baby’s life. So every time I would find myself heading down the wrong path, I would think about my son to remind myself of my why.
Everyone has their own why. What’s yours?
2. Set realistic goals.
Setting more realistic and achievable goals can stop you from getting discouraged and ultimately ending your journey. If you start with, “I want to lose 50 pounds,” you are setting yourself up for failure. Break it down into weekly or monthly goals. This week I want to lose 3-5 pounds is much more manageable.
3. Recognize your triggers.
Start paying attention to when you overeat. What causes it? Stress? Exhaustion? Boredom?
Did you know that stress increases the levels of stress hormones (specifically cortisol) circulating in your body. These hormones can cause you to have higher intensity cravings for high fat, calorie-dense foods, which will typically make you gain weight over time.
Stress is a difficult trigger to change, but what you can change is your reaction to the trigger. For example, when you are stressed instead of going for a bowl of chips or cookies or ice cream, maybe go out for a walk or run to burn off steam, or if it is food you crave, grab a few nuts or rice cake bites or veggies with hummus. It sounds tough, but if you don’t buy the junk food then you won’t eat it…and if you say you get it for the kids, well then your kids probably shouldn’t be eating it either. Your kids may question you in the beginning but remember, you are replacing and not eliminating. Talk to your kids about why you are making the change and they may be more receptive.
4. Treat yourself.
At the same time you make healthier choices, you also don’t want to deprive yourself. What fun is a healthy lifestyle if you can’t treat yourself for your accomplishments. If it’s a sweet snack (I
love me some dark chocolate covered almonds!) go for it in moderation. The difference is that you know how to control yourself. When you have your treat, portion it in a small bowl rather than eat from the bag or the container.
Maybe your treat is buying the new outfit you’ve been wanting to fit into. Remember to celebrate your accomplishments!
5. Be prepared.
The hardest thing about working out, especially in the morning before work, is actually getting out of bed earlier to do it. So the last thing you want to do is have to go through drawers finding workout clothes and socks and your sneakers. Have all your gear laid out the night before and your sneakers by your bedside. And if you need to, sleep in your workout gear! Believe me it works. And if you go the the gym after work, take your gym bag to the office and change before you leave. You want to try and eliminate any excuse you can find to not get it in.
6. Meal prep.
Find what works best for you. Is it easier to pick one day a week to cook your meals for the week, or is it less stressful to do it every day the night before? Everyone is different. I tried both. What works best for me is making it the night before. I’ll make a quick egg white omelette and pack it up or keep it simple with a greek yogurt and berries. For lunch I’m a creature of habit. It’s usually some kind of salad that I just grab out of the plastic container it came in and throw it into another container. I vary the protein i put on top, whether its grilled chicken (the ones already precooked in a bag are my life saver sometimes!) or tunafish. A video on how I meal prep is coming soon!
7. Carry an emergency stash.
Have a snack on you at all times because you never know when you will have to stay late at work or get caught in traffic. My kids call it my emergency stash. I always have some nuts, power bar or beef jerky in the middle console of my car if I ever get “hangry.” That way I don’t resort to the processed food at the drive thru.
8. Have a game plan when you eat out.
Most people tend to stay on track during the week, and when the weekend comes it’s all down hill because you tend to dine out more often. If this is the case be sure to check the menu of the restaurant online before you head out, or call ahead to ask what their healthy options are.
Try having a healthy snack before you leave to avoid getting there when you are starving. Order first so you are not influenced by what everyone else is ordering. Drink about 10 ounces of water before you get your meal. If you want to have a cocktail then compromise. Do without the carb for dinner and enjoy a glass of wine.
9. Drink water!
I can’t stress this enough. Yes, you will be going to the bathroom more often (but hey that keep you moving…more exercise…win! win!) but the payoff is worth it. How much should you be drinking every day? I go with the 1/2 your weight in ounces rule. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should be drinking 80 ounces of water every day. Try adding different fruit of even veggies to your water to shake things up a bit.
10. Have an accountability partner:
Do you have a gym partner? Have you told someone about your resolution? Someone that will keep you accountable and ask you if you worked out that day? If you don’t have that someone, there are always many online support groups that will keep you accountable. Heck, I have one! We all check in with one another daily on a private Facebook page to make sure we stay active, eat right and drink enough water. We are all in the same struggle so we understand one another. It’s one big fit family!
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