New year, new goals. … Or maybe the same goals we had at the beginning of last year that we forgot about by Feb. 1. Let's all make our first New Year's resolution for next year to follow through with our other New Year's resolutions. Deal? Here are three healthy goals for you to aim for and how you can reach them.
Perhaps the most common New Year’s resolution, losing weight is probably also the most infrequently met. Why? It’s easy to feel extremely motivated right after you’ve overindulged during the holidays and feel guilty for eating all of those cookies that seem to now live in your thighs. This is when people often make the mistake of setting impossible goals for themselves for next year. Here’s what you can do to stick to your plan:
A safe long-term goal is to shed 1 to 2 lbs a week, though it may come off more quickly in the beginning. Based on that and the amount you want to lose, give yourself a deadline. For example, if you want to lose 30 lbs and you start your weight-loss plan Jan. 1, May 1 is a reasonable deadline. Keep in mind that this is only an estimate, and the amount you lose weekly will depend on your current weight and the severity of the change in your diet and lifestyle.
You have no idea how much this one helps! If it’s not there, you can’t eat it. If you’re serious about losing this weight, eliminating the junk food in your kitchen is imperative.
If you’re not a very active person, you don’t need to morph from couch potato to gym-obsessed. Most of your weight loss is going to come from reduced calorie intake. Exercising three or four times a week — whether this is jogging, working out at the gym or taking an aerobics or dance class — will help speed up your metabolism, which means your body will burn calories more quickly. Terrified of a strenuous workout? Try taking a leisurely walk every day — a mile will suffice.
This way, you have a weekly reminder of your current weight and its distance from your goal. It’s easy to procrastinate and push challenges to the back of your head so you don’t have to confront them. This will help you stay focused.
Identify your motivation.
Everyone always says you need to lose weight for the “right reasons.” Here’s what I think: Do you want to lose weight, yes or no? If the answer is yes, that you personally are unhappy with your weight and want to change it — not simply because someone else wants you to — then do it. I don’t care if the reason is that you want to look good in your wedding dress next year, or you want to wear a hot bikini on your tropical vacation next summer, or even because you hope losing weight will attract a certain someone. Any reasons you can find to motivate yourself are good ones, as long as you’re losing a healthy amount of weight a healthy way and you believe losing it will make you happier with yourself.
As cliché as it is, putting photos on your refrigerator of how you want to look can help. Or make a list of why you want to lose the weight and post that on your refrigerator. Losing weight is tough, and it takes a lot of will power. You’re going to want to eat things you shouldn’t and not go to the gym when you should. You’re going to try to rationalize making the wrong choices. Having a reminder of your motivation can help you avoid that rationalization.
This has two advantages: 1) It gives you more motivation to follow through with accomplishing your goal. 2) They’ll be aware that you’re making changes in your diet and lifestyle and will hopefully avoid tempting you. It’s always good to have a support system.
This was my New Year’s resolution two years ago. I was drinking entirely too much diet soda and was constantly dehydrated. I made it my goal to follow the age-old advice: Drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day, which is the equivalent to almost 2 liters. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men drink about 3 liters of total beverages a day and women drink about 2.2 liters of total beverages a day. So the eight glasses of water wasn’t too far off.
Drinking more water during the day will help you stay hydrated, but it can also help you lose weight, if that’s another one of your New Year’s resolutions. With zero calories, drinking water makes you feel full without giving your body more calories to burn off. Feel like snacking? Try a glass of water instead. Here’s how to stick to your goal:
I’m not sure if they make 2-liter bottles of water, but if so, buy one of those and refill it once a day. Your goal would be to drink the whole thing by the end of the day. I kept a 1.5-liter bottle and a 16.9-oz. bottle at work and told myself I had to drink both before I went home for the day.
Not a big fan of water? Me either. Here’s a great trick: Buy Minute Maid’s natural, 5-calorie, lemonade- or raspberry-flavored on-the-go drink mixes. For every 16.9 ounces of water, mix in one pack. If you use this for all 2 liters of water you drink, you’ll only be consuming 20 calories.
I’m not going to lie: It can be challenging to eat healthy and conveniently while on a strict budget. One of the biggest issues I’ve encountered is that you can’t buy one-serving packages of lettuce, herbs and other produce, so I’m always unable to finish all of what I buy before it goes bad. Canned foods might seem like the solution, but a lot of them are packed with sodium. And after a long day at work, I don’t feel like spending an hour making dinner. Here are some tips:
A tip I learned from Diet Coach Judy (see my review of her book of healthy-eating tips here) is to spend some time on Sunday chopping up some veggies — I use onions and mushrooms a lot when cooking — and store them in little baggies in the fridge so they’re ready for you to toss on a pan when you get home on weekdays. She even suggested cooking things like caramelized onions on Sunday and storing them to use during the week.
They last a long time, are inexpensive and easy to cook, and don’t contain the high amount of sodium contained in canned vegetables.
A cheap and healthy way to spice up a meal is knowing how to utilize seasonings. Lemon pepper is one of my favorites, especially on broccoli. Red pepper flakes, rosemary and thyme are great for seasoning chicken breasts and other meat, which you can store in the freezer until you need them. And this isn't a seasoning, but a little Parmesan goes a long way. For some extra flavor on chicken or veggies, try sprinkling on a little with the seasoning. The great thing about Parmesan is that it lasts a long time.
Click here for our healthy sandwich creations that you can bring to work or make at home.
Tell us: What are your healthy New Year’s resolutions for 2012?