by Sarah Muntel, RD
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The holiday season can be a tough time of year for weight-loss and weight maintenance for so many different reasons. People make poor food choices, spend little time on exercise and find themselves grazing on high-calorie party food, which seems to be everywhere! It is not a shock that most people gain around five pounds during the holiday season.
The holidays have passed and it is time to get back into your weight-loss groove. This can seem like an unbelievable task but it is time to jump in with two feet and get started. Small steps can make a big difference in your weight and health. Check out the list below and get started today!
1. Pick a day to start.
This is never an easy task and it is easy to procrastinate. Do not wait until next week or next month. There will never be a “perfect time” to get back on track. You will always have a reason to wait until tomorrow. Start now!
2. Set realistic and specific goals.
You did not gain weight overnight, so you cannot lose it overnight. Aim for one to two pounds per week as a goal. Do not just set weight goals. Other goals could be eating out less, choosing more vegetables or walking during your lunch break at work. Write them down and post them where you can see them.
3. Get back to nutrition basics.
Remember what has worked for you in the past. Everyone has a formula for success. Choose lean protein, lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and add some whole grains. Avoid sweets, sugars and fried foods. Once you change your diet, you will be amazed how much better you feel.
4. Plan your meals.
People do not realize how important it is to plan meals and snacks ahead of time. Without a plan, it is so easy to run through a fast food restaurant when you are tired on your way home from work, or grab a bag of chips from the vending machine when you are working late and need a snack. Find easy meals for days when you work late and have meals that take more time to prepare for lazy Sunday afternoons. Check out www.cookinglight.com or www.allrecipes.com for new recipes. Stock your fridge with yogurt, string cheese, fruits and vegetables for snacks.
5. Go shopping and cook your meals.
After you plan your meals, shop a week in advance so you always have the foods you need on hand. Make a list and shop from the list. Shop the perimeter of the store and buy what you need. Set yourself up for success by buying the foods that are good for you and fit into your program. Junk in your shopping cart leads to temptation at home.
6. Log your foods.
You have probably heard this one a million times. It sounds so easy, but so many people struggle to log their foods. It is a proven fact – patients who log their foods lose more weight. When people log their food choices, they are much more mindful of what they are eating, the amounts they are eating and they typically eat less.
There are many ways to log. Some people use a notebook, journal or even sheets of paper. There are also great free online resources such as www.sparkpeople.com, www.myfitnesspal.com or www.fitday.com. Many free phone apps are available as well!
7. Find solutions for struggles.
Everyone experiences struggles as they go through a weight-loss plan. Take some time to figure out what yours are so you will be able to come up with a solution. For example, if you struggle going by your coworkers candy jar, take a different route so you avoid seeing it. If you have difficulty snacking after you get home from work, plan a healthy snack instead.
8. Do not forget to move.
Nutrition can be just part of the equation. Winter can be a tough time to stay active. It can be cold, dark and hard to get motivated. You cannot wait until it is warm outside to start moving. Think about a fitness plan that works for you. Many people enjoy taking an exercise class at a gym, doing a fitness video, or bundling up and walking outside. Think about what works for you and get moving most days of the week.
9. Plan for backslides.
Weight-loss is not easy and no one is perfect. So many people jump on a weight-loss plan and when it does not go perfect, they stop altogether. Do not let this happen to you. If you eat a greasy cheeseburger and fries for lunch, get right back on track by having a salad for dinner. If you are upset because you missed the gym two days in a row, go the next morning. One poor choice does not ruin your plan. Get right back into your groove and you will be fine!
10. Celebrate your success.
Weight-loss is hard work! Celebrate the pounds you lose, exercise sessions completed and your increased self-confidence. When you lose five pounds, treat yourself to a movie! When you go to the gym three days this week, buy yourself a new magazine!
Good luck and get ready to enjoy the new you! Your hard work will pay off and you will feel great.
About the Author:
Sarah Muntel, RD, is a registered dietitian with IU Health Bariatric & Medical Weight Loss. She has worked in bariatrics for the past 12 years and enjoys helping people get to a healthy weight so they can improve their health, feel better about themselves and become more active.