Assess your readiness
The first step to any weight loss challenge or journey needs to be an honest assessment of readiness to make these changes possible. How many days do you typically engage in 45-60 minutes of physical activity right now? Do you already keep track of how much exercise you get on a weekly basis? Do you find ways to get around exercise? Or, do you set goals, ask friends and family for help, and make back up plans and think of the benefits to exercise?
With food and nutrition how many fruits and vegetables do you currently take in? Do you think you can or will eat at least or more than 5 servings a day within the next six months? Are you aware of the benefits of eating more nutritiously? Do you set reminders for yourself and stay positive around variety and options? If you get off track for a snack or a meal can you turn this around quickly and not forgo the entire endeavor?
Establishing goals & taking first steps
The tried-and-true method to drop weight does exist. It’s a matter of mathematics, and it requires eating fewer calories and incorporating regular exercise. I advise clients and patients set realistic goals and add to them each week or month. Small dietary changes are more likely to stick, as are types of exercise you enjoy.
The creation of goal lists has always been a favorite strategy of mine. I believe it’s a setup for success.
A shorter goal list might look like this:
- Eat something within 2 hours of waking and consider this breakfast.
- Increase fruit and vegetable intake to 5 servings a day with each serving about the size of your fist.
- Maintain fluid intake at 1 liter while attempting to increase to 2 or more liters a day.
- Begin tracking food and exercise using a free online tool or by purchasing yourself a Fitbit or similar device.
- Allow dessert 3 days a week, using appropriate portion size.
- Spend 5 minutes on Sunday night setting 4 or more appointments with yourself for exercise during the next week. Try for 30-40 minutes of your favorite activity.
- Set a time to follow up with yourself in 30 days to assess the above goal list and perhaps enlist the help of a partner or friend.
Words to leave out
My clients laugh when I ask them not to ‘should’ on themselves or anyone else. Telling yourself ‘I should exercise 5 days a week,’ often leads to the next statement of ‘This week is a waste as I only got to the gym twice’. Also, if you eat a cookie it is not a bad day. If you eat a piece of cake or drink a regular soda or souped up special large coffee, it not a failure. Calories do add up over 7 days, 4 weeks, and 12 months, but movement and exercise combined with diligence and your best eating is ultimately the path to success. So take these words away from anything to do with food, exercise, well-being: should, fat, failure, disgusting, etc. (you know where I’m going with this)!
Eating with intention
Intention is a powerful tool. This is why I named this newsletter ‘Nutrition with Intention’. Ask yourself how you intend to eat versus how you resolve to eat. Intention is more indicative of success. It overshadows the ‘I will’ with an ‘I am’ attitude toward eating healthy. Creating a focus on behaviors can be a simple as using an 8″diner plate and filling it half with vegetables or fruits at every meal. Remove trigger foods from the home and help control portion sizes by purchasing smaller sizes of favorite foods.
Want to know how real dietitians eat? Follow them and food trends by checking out Appforhealth.com. Alternatively another RDN I know of photographed and blogged her eating every day for a year last year. I especially enjoyed her last entry where she wrote about how being hydrated daily was such a big part of how she felt every day. Click here for a link to her blog.
Eating nutritiously and exercising regularly can sometimes – not always – be challenging but they don’t have to be complicated! Read on for the morsel on exercise I found more than inspiring in 2014!