January 4th, 2017
New Year, New You: An 8-Step Action Plan
Tired of gorging on holiday cookies and cake? Start your journey to a healthier you this new year.
There’s a reason that most New Year's resolutions largely fail. People don’t set specific, measurable, and achievable goals that serve as a roadmap to their ultimate accomplishment.
In other words, if you've tried to lose weight, eat more nutritious foods, and/or become more active in the past, it might be that your goal was too vague, too unrealistic, and/or not measurable. For example, maybe you said, "I want to be healthier," or "I want to lose 50 pounds in January."
For starters, try something more along these lines: "I will lose one pound every two weeks," or "I will work out for at least 30 minutes, five days a week, before work each morning" or "I will replace soda with water."
To make sure that you meet your goal this year, follow this eight-step action plan. Here's to a new you in the new year.
1. Rethink Your Motivators
Before you can get off the couch, you have to have a reason why—a driving force that helps you stay on track, even when you’re feeling down. A great first step to embracing the new you (and limiting the likelihood of your getting derailed) is finding your "why." Whether you’re looking to lose weight to better keep up with the kids or look amazing at that upcoming high school reunion, having a clear motivator before you start the process will make sticking to your goal easier.
2. Drink More Water
Excessive thirst could lead you to think that you’re hungry, so before you eat anything, save calories by drinking a full glass of water. Just how much should you guzzle each day? In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued new recommendations for general fluid intake. They are: 91 ounces (or 11+ cups) a day for women and 125 ounces (15 + cups) a day for men. These guidelines include fluid from foods, too.
According to the American Dietetic Association, foods with high water content include the more obvious lettuce and watermelon (with 95% and 92% water per 1½ cups, respectively) to the less obvious broccoli and carrots (with 91% and 87% water per 1½ cups, respectively). Looking to treat your palate to the taste of something new? Infuse your water with berry slices, a smidge of lemon, some cucumber, or the refreshing taste of mint or basil
3. Create A Plan
You don’t have to be a type A personality to create a clear roadmap toward the new you. Having a plan from the moment that your feet hit the floor in the morning will help you waste less time and, ultimately, make strides towards living a healthier life.
Don't just say that you're going to work out—figure out when, exactly, you can squeeze it in and then schedule it on your calendar. If, say, your plan is to jog outside after work each day, pack a bag the night before and throw an extra layer into your Pack-It Sport™ Active Set so that you’ll be able to brave the nighttime chill—and not use it as an excuse to flake on your workout.
4. Keep A Food Journal
You can’t change your habits—or create new ones—until you know what particular lifestyle choices have landed you in your current situation. Sure, the holiday cookies, candy, and cake didn't help, but there might be more to it than that. The key to a successful food journal is consistency and accuracy. Try tracking your meals for a month. The idea is ultimately to raise consciousness. Having to write down what you eat and when can help you determine which foods to reduce or eliminate in your diet, as well as whether you're eating due to hunger or boredom.
5. Start An Eating Schedule
Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time to take more control of your diet. So if you know that you always get the munchies around 4pm at work, bring a bag of carrots, nuts, or apple slices to the office so you don't raid the vending machine for something that's full of saturated fat, sugar, or salt. Pack your meals and snacks to go in an easy-to-carry pack.
6. Prioritize Protein
Satiety is the key to eating less, and protein helps you feel fuller longer. If you're looking to lose weight, increasing your protein intake is a no brainer. Protein slows down digestion and, when it's paired with carbohydrate-rich foods, it can help ease the absorption of sugar—which may help keep your blood sugar from skyrocketing before a big crash.
Since cutting back on the influx of holiday calories might be on your to-do list, protein is even more important. In order to prime your body for losing fat and keeping muscle, it's important to maintain—or even increase—the amount of protein you consume. A good rule of thumb? As a general guideline, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that all men and women over the age of 19 should get at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (or 0.37 grams per pound).
7. Add More Activity To Your Day
Get used to adding more activity to your day and you’ll seamlessly start to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Small things—like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from your destination and walking, or doing sit-ups while watching TV—can add up. If you've been in active for a while, taking up walking is a great way to get started. Throw a travel towel in your car, briefcase, or purse so you can dry up any sweat while you're on the go.
8. Reward Yourself
Nothing cures the winter blues like dreaming of a beach vacation. To help yourself stay on course, plan some kind of small getaway as a reward. For instance, if your goal is to lose 30 pounds this year, head to a resort with a spouse or friend for a long weekend once you're halfway to your goal. After all, it's a milestone and you are worth celebrating.
What are some tips that help you stay healthy? Share your thoughts in the comments, below.
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