Here we are in the new year, and if you’re like most people, you’ve made resolutions to lose weight, eat better, get more exercise and generally take better care of yourself.
During the first few weeks, you’re motivated and ready to go. Then, as the weeks go by, you hit a few bumps in the road. That’s when the personal trash talk starts.
“I’ll never do this.” “It’s too hard.” “I’ve already blown it, so I might as well give up.”
What can you do to stay on track with your resolutions and meet your health and wellness goals? The trick is to anticipate and plan for the challenges that have stopped you before. Here are some tips to help overcome those curves that life throws at your good intentions about eating more healthfully:
• Eat an apple on the way to dinner to take the edge off your hunger.
• Drink water as often as possible. Be especially mindful of drinking one glass of water for every glass of an alcoholic drink.
• Ask for half portions at restaurants or for half of your entrée to be boxed before it even leaves the restaurant’s kitchen.
• Say “no thanks” to the server before they bring the bread and butter or chips and salsa. And, if your dining companions are looking forward to the premeal snacks, don’t deny yourself. Instead, put a small portion on your plate and eat slowly.
• Know what you’re going to order before you go to the restaurant. Look at the menu online when you aren’t hungry and make your choice. Then, when it’s time to order, stick to your earlier decision.
• Ask the server to remove your plate before you’ve eaten everything on it.
• Bring a healthy dish to a party so there will be at least one selection you can feel good about eating.
• Eat slowly, stop when you’ve had enough and put your fork down between bites to let your stomach register when you’ve had enough.
While you’re on your path to keeping those resolutions, make sure goals are realistic. Don’t set a goal to lose 30 pounds in a month. Even if that were possible, you are more likely to gain the weight back if you cannot maintain the lifestyle that got you to that goal. With smaller, easier-to-achieve goals, you’ll have the opportunity to experience success and maintain your motivation to continue your journey to a healthier you.
Here are some additional tips to help keep you on track:
1. Tell your friends about your goals, and ask them to help keep you accountable. With some advance notice, they’ll be more likely to understand your restaurant requests.
2. Write your goals down or draw a picture as a reminder and put the paper where you can read it every day, such as on the bathroom mirror.
3. Visualize yourself eating healthier, exercising and feeling the sense of accomplishment it gives you. This exercise is especially helpful when you’re feeling stress related to your goals.
4. Track your progress. There are apps you can use for your smartphone that will help you track your daily weight, food and physical activity. For free ones, try LoseIt and MapMyWalk.
5. Acknowledge accomplishments along the way. Even if it’s just that one day you went for a walk, you did it!
6. Try new recipes. If you like to cook, or if you haven’t tried cooking but think you might like it, the next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a vegetable you have never seen or tasted before and find a recipe for it online.
7. Make small goals to get to your ultimate success point. For example, “This month I will walk around the park on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.”
8. Reward yourself for meeting small goals. Pick a reward that will motivate you.
No matter what, stay focused on your goals. No doubt, you will have bumps along the road. If you slip, remember that every day and every meal is a new opportunity to get up and back on track. Use what works for you. You’re building a new lifestyle, not going on a diet. And you are worth it.
Myers is on the core team of the Canyon Ranch Institute’s Life Enhancement Program with Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care, which is offered free in Savannah thanks to civic leaders Charles H. and Rosalie Morris.