Now that 2010 is over, most of us are assessing our activities and deciding our New Year's Resolutions. What did we accomplish? Did we reach our goals? After indulging in holiday feasts and treats, weight loss ranks high on many people's lists. The additional activities and parties can wreck our fitness routines, and we find ourselves a few pounds heavier.
What's the best way to get healthier?
Make a realistic goal. Sometimes, we're so excited about our new resolution, that we set unattainable goals. If you're sedentary, make a goal to walk three times a week, or for 15-minutes at a time. If you're more active, don't jump to a triathlon in three weeks. Think of a reasonable and attainable goal. When you reach it, then you can gradually increase it to another level.
Shop for healthful foods. Think about what you're eating. The 100-calorie cookie packs may be convenient, but what vitamins and nutrients are you consuming?
"We all need fats. Healthy fats. Marketing has done their job and labeled things as fat-free, which people think are healthy. But when they take out the fat, they have to add in a lot to make it taste good. What's added is not natural or healthy for your body," says Cyndi Fickes, owner and fitness trainers of The Gym.
Add unprocessed, real foods to your diet. Good choices are raw vegetables, fresh fruit and some whole dairy products. Reduce or eliminate any processed foods. The boxes may be convenient but they're filled with preservatives and additives. Skip sugary foods and limit your intake of breads.
"Ignore the marketing and don't shop the center of the store. Except for paper products, most of the foods are packaged and full of preservatives, which are toxins. Our body doesn't know how to process them," says Fickes. "If it wasn't made 100 years ago, don't eat it."
Eat small amounts every 2-3 hours. Your body needs healthful foods every few hours. It's best to eat something small, like an apple, a handful of nuts or carrot sticks. Make sure you have snacks with you, so you can eat regularly throughout your day.
"It's easy to eat a handful of nuts, fresh fruit or raw veggies. It's not a meal, just enough to give your body the energy it needs. When you stop to have lunch, say a sandwich or salad, you won't overeat because you've just had the nuts a couple hours before," says Fickes.
Stay motivated with a friend. To reach your weight loss goal it's important to stay on track and consistent. If you're easily tempted to stay home and watch TV rather than hit the gym then partner with a friend. You can take turns encouraging one another to work out.
If you need help starting your fitness plan, consider hiring a personal trainer. A professional can guide you on the best ways to get in shape and motivate you to continue.
"Hiring a personal trainer was the best decision I've ever made. I didn't know how or where to start," says Michael Hannin, 72-year old member of The Gym.
Make fitness a part of your family's lifestyle. Think of healthful foods and exercising as a way of life. It's hard to stay committed. If you dread the aerobics class or can't stand the foods in your "diet". You'll be less likely to follow through if you think of getting in shape as something 'temporary'. Change your mindset to thinking of these steps as a lifestyle rather than something to lose 20 pounds.
Don't be hard on yourself. With some preparation, you can set reasonable goals and become healthier. The key is taking small steps consistently over the year.