The new year is officially here, and with it come the annual New Year's resolutions. Are you one of the many people who have set weight loss goals this year? The journey is not always going to be easy - at times it will be challenging - but with persistence and determination you will push through and be rewarded.
Losing weight takes more than just hitting the gym and eating right - although both are essential. You are going to need to follow a routine. Plan and prepare your meals ahead of time, start your morning with breakfast and green tea for a metabolism boost and add some extra walking to your morning commute.
Those of you who find exercising to be boring will be delighted to know that there are many ways to make it exciting. Finding an exercise you enjoy is key. "Regular physical activity has been shown to help people with healthy weight maintenance," Summer Yule, MS, RDN, says. "You do not have to take up running; if you prefer to walk or dance, that is fine." Consider finding a workout buddy and attending group fitness classes together.
The "New Year, New Me" journey has begun. Don't wait any longer, get out there and start working toward your weight loss goals today.
Prioritize Your Plate
"Eat the most filling and nutrient-dense foods first. Protein and fiber help us to feel fuller for longer, and vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense foods around," sports dietitian Kelsey Hampton says. "Enjoy your lean proteins and the non-starchy vegetables first to help reduce your appetite for more starchy, calorie dense foods."
Fiber has numerous health benefits. But when it comes to weight loss, eating fiber increases the feeling of fullness. Some foods that contain fiber include apples, green beans, strawberries, chickpeas, black beans, brown rice, oatmeal and avocado.
Don't Food Shop When You're Hungry
Food shopping when you are hungry is a big no-no! When you're hungry, surrounding yourself with food is a recipe for disaster. You will end up filling up your shopping cart with extra food, more junk food, and less food containing healthy nutrients. Plus, you will end up spending more money.
Eat on a Smaller Plate
We tend to eat more when we eat on bigger plates and use bigger bowls. When we see our food on a bigger plate, our mind tells us that we are eating a small portion. Thinking we are not eating enough, we usually get up for a second plate. Try using a smaller plate; this will force you to put less food on your plate, and trick your mind into thinking you ate more food.
Self-Monitor Your Food Intake
Do this in a way that does not make you feel overly restricted. "There is evidence that various dietary methods (low fat, low carb) can work for weight loss by creating a calorie deficit," Summer Yule, MS, RDN, says. "Find one that works with your food preferences and lifestyle."
"Base your meals around basic healthy food such as fruits, vegetables, pasta, rice, potatoes, pulses, eggs, fish, poultry, lean meat, and low-fat dairy," Slimming World's Head of Nutrition and Research, Dr Jacquie Lavin, says. "These foods are low in calories for their filling power so great to reach for first; they'll help you lose weight while still feeling satisfied."
Drink Black Coffee
Drinking black coffee has positive effects on weight loss. It boosts your metabolic rate which helps you rid fat. Drinking coffee 20-30 minutes before hitting the gym will help you power through your workout routine by giving give you a great energy boost.
Set Your Mindset
Erin Wathen, a certified life and weight loss coach, food addiction counselor and author of the new book "Why Can't I Stick to My Diet?" says that losing weight starts with your thoughts. "WHY are you losing weight, and WHY did you gain it is in the first place? What wasn't working before that you thought you would find the solution in a bag of cookies? Do you want cookies more than you want to feel good in your own skin? Is it worth it to eat sugar if you have to go up a size in jeans? Ask yourself these questions," Wathen says. "They will set your mindset straight."
Wathen says that the phrase BLT "is old school for Bites, Licks and Tastes." When her kids were little, she was always eating their left overs and their snacks and grazing when she was making their food. "I stopped eating food that wasn't 'mine' and I lost 3 pounds in a week," she says. "These little BLTs add up to stopping weight loss. Be mindful of not looking at your day as being open to food every waking moment and just because food is offered or available, it doesn't mean we have to eat it."
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Keep a Food Journal
Wathen says that her No. 1 recommendation for starting weight loss again is to keep a food journal of every single thing you eat. "Most of us do not realize how often, how much or how unhealthy many of our choices are until we commit to writing everything we eat down," she says. "NEVER EVER lie or lie by omission to your journal. You are only lying to yourself and that is a recipe for disaster."
Drink Green Tea
Green tea has very powerful effects on the body. It contains nutrients and antioxidants that help your body function. One of the main powers of green tea is that is aids in fat loss. It is proven, green tea boosts your metabolic rate, which in turn increases the amount of fat you are burning. Tip: Start your morning with a cup of green tea and get your metabolism revved up for the day.
Find Exercise That You Enjoy
Finding an exercise that you enjoy will motivate you to stick with it. "Regular physical activity has been shown to help people with healthy weight maintenance," Yule says. "You do not have to take up running; if you prefer to walk or dance, that is fine."
Set Smaller Goals
Setting smaller goals that are easier to achieve is the best way to keep you motivated. Try breaking down your big goal into smaller goals to get started; you will find it easier to stay on track. Make sure to write your goals down and put them somewhere you will see them every day. These reminders will help keep you moving toward your goal.
Try New Workouts
Are you tired of doing the same workout routine every day? Switching it up is a great way to challenge and re-motivate yourself. "Leisure centers are introducing new activities all the time, like Zumba, hula-hooping or walking groups," Dr Jacquie Lavin, says. "You might be surprised at what you would find and what you enjoy."
Take a Group Fitness Class
Group fitness classes are a great way to not only lose weight, but to expose yourself to a fun and social environment. They are motivating, entertaining and enjoyable. Classes are taught by motivating instructors who work hard to keep you excited and safe throughout your workout. They will keep you inspired while also showing you how to properly do each workout correctly - eliminating your chance of injury.
Work on Your Posture
Believe it or not, the way you are sitting can be detrimental to your weight loss goals. Sitting upright in your chair increases blood circulation to your core, which forces the muscles in your abs to work harder.
Find a Workout Buddy
Exercising alone can be boring. It's much harder to motivate yourself to go to the gym when, well, you're just going by yourself. Working out with someone else provides the encouragement you need to get off your couch and head to the gym. Your buddy will help you stay motivated, promote healthy competition and hold you accountable. After all, once you have committed to your gym session there's no backing out, right?
Listen to Music
Listen to music while you work out! Why? Music is a great distraction. As you are focusing on the music you are less focused on the pain you may be enduring during your exercise. Music puts you in a good mind frame and increases the intensity of your workout. Bonus: The beat of the song can help keep you at a good pace.
Brush Your Teeth
Craving that piece of chocolate? Just brush your teeth! Brushing your teeth right after you eat will help you fight the urge to snack or eat again. Under a time crunch? Just use mouthwash.
Set boundaries, especially with the people around you. "Unfortunately, some people can become pushy when they see someone close to them trying to make changes," Yule says. "Give yourself permission to say no when someone tries to push food on you that you do not want."
Have a Positive Attitude
It is extremely important to have a positive attitude when trying to lose weight. Get excited for that morning gym session and don't let yourself get down if you are not seeing results right away. Results take time; always remember that every time you work out you are one step closer to achieving your goals. Don't give up!
Don't Throw in the Towel
"Look at each meal and snack, each day, as its own opportunity to nourish your body," Hampton says. "If you eat 3-5 times per day and one of those happens to be a not-so-good option, you still have several other opportunities to choose well." Don't throw in the towel on an entire day because you made one unhealthy choice.
Get Some Sleep
Lack of quality sleep may be detrimental to your waistline. Sleep is essential for a properly functioning metabolism. Lack of it causes hormone changes that result in increased hunger and appetite. You may find that you are snacking more throughout the day because you're hungry and exercising less because you're tired.
Get Rid of the Junk
Stay away from junk food! Wathen says that everything that comes from the center of the grocery store, aka processed foods, should be thrown out. "It does not serve you," she adds.
Watch Less TV
Dr. Jacquie Lavin says that "studies show that successful weight-loss maintainers watch much less TV than they used to, choosing active hobbies over sedentary ones." Also, eating in front of the TV causes people to snack on unhealthy foods. It has been proven that while watching TV you are blocking the feeling of fulfillment because your brain is focused on something else. That being said, avoid overeating and refrain from having snacks in front of the TV.
Take Advantage of Health Apps
Health apps are great tools that can help you meet your goals. "The HowUdish app can help you to find local restaurant dishes that fit your special diets and help you meet your goals," Yule says. "MyFitnessPal can help you to track your calories or carbs."
Add More Walking to Your Day
It's easy to be lazy when it comes to our morning commute to work. But believe it or not, a little bit of extra walking every day can make a difference. Park farther away from your building and take an extra walk around the block before entering work. Once you arrive, skip the elevator and take the stairs for extra calorie burn.
Get Your Family Active
There's nothing better than the support of your loved ones. While, working out with your buddy is fun, getting active with your family is a great opportunity for bonding. "It's easier to be active when people around you are active too," Dr. Jacquie Lavin says. "Surround yourself with active people or invite those close to you to join you, whether that's on a walk, on a bike ride or at a local exercise class."
Turn up the AC
Spending time in cooler temperatures has been shown to rev up the metabolism. Research explains that "cooler temperatures can activate brown fat, the type of fat that generates body heat." Turning up the AC has also been proven to help people fall asleep faster and sleep better.
Separate Food From Emotion
"Eat because it is necessary to fuel your body, support your immune system and all tissues of your body, and because it can provide added bonuses like reducing inflammation," Hampton says. "Eating to soothe an emotional state can lead to eating patterns that make it hard to maintain health and an appropriate weight."
Ditch the Halo Effect
"It is possible to overeat healthy foods, dried apricots being a great example. My definition of healthy might not be yours. So be very careful with healthyish foods like smoothies, granola and chai tea as they seem to be ok, but they can be very calorically dense, and many manufacturers and companies add a lot of sugar," Wathen says. "ALWAYS, ALWAYS keep in mind portions and labels."
Get Rid of Guilt
"If you go off track, it's tempting to beat yourself up and tell yourself you've blown it," Dr Jacquie Lavin says. "Don't allow yourself to sabotage your success, simply put it behind you, get straight back on track and feel confident that the weight will come off again."
"Weigh and measure everything you eat in your house for a week," Wathen says. "Then the next time you go out to a restaurant, take a good hard look at the crazy portions we are served."
Breakfast is known as the most important meal of the day. Start your day off with a healthy breakfast and give yourself energy to start your day. Eating breakfast is proven to improve concentration, give you energy, help with weight loss and boost your metabolism.
Don't Skip Meals
Many people are under the impression that if they want to lose weight they should eat less, they are mistaken. In order to reach your goal weight, you should consume smaller portions of food more frequently throughout the day. Skipping meals leads to overeating which can cause weight gain.
"We often get hunger signals mixed up with hydration signals," Hampton says. "When we are dehydrated, we are much more likely to crave starchy and salty foods that hold onto water in the body."
Plan Your Meals
Plan your meals for the week and go shopping for the foods that fit your meal plan. "If you know you have a busy week ahead of you, plan very simple meals, like a stir-fry with frozen vegetables and lean protein over brown rice, or a veggie and cheese omelet," Yule explains. "Having the foods in the house that align with your healthy dietary pattern can help you to meet your goals."
Close the Kitchen
Stop eating after dinner. "Having a 24/7 sign on your kitchen so to speak can lead to many issues with weight loss," Wathen says. "Late night snacking is problematic for weight loss, as many of us are tired and want a distraction, and we will eat things at 10 p.m. we would never eat at 10 a.m." Try changing the channel mentally by going to another room - start being one of the people who does not eat all night.
Slow down while eating, savor your food and chew several times. Eating fast may lead to overeating because your brain doesn't have enough time to register that you're full. You may feel like you haven't had enough food, so you reach for more.
Swap for Homemade Versions
"Swap takeaways for homemade versions of your favorite food," Dr. Jacquie Lavin says. "Make your own healthy versions of takeaway dishes. You'll find lots of ideas at www.slimmingworld.com that taste just as good and can be just as quick too!"
Eat Spicy Foods
Many spicy foods have been shown to boost metabolic rate by raising body temperature. They also help decrease appetite and reduce fat tissue. Chili peppers for instance, contain the compound capsaicin which not only helps with weight loss but also is said to help lower blood pressure, relieve pain and aid in digestive health.
Add More Vegetables to Your Plate
Dr. Jacquie Lavin says that you should "aim to fill a third of your plate at every meal with fresh vegetables." Vegetables contain the essential nutrient fiber. According to Dr. Shel, fiber grabs hold of toxins and pulls them out through elimination. "Studies also show that people who eat more fiber tend to be leaner and are less likely to gain weight over time." If you need a little help getting your health back on track, these 21 small New Year's resolutions just might change your life.
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