We've reached that time of year again; it's a time of resolutions, new commitments to health and well-being, and, of course, losing those extra pounds you've been procrastinating about since the end of summer.
While we gear up for a year of renewed health priorities, here are some sure-fire ways to help you jump-start your weight-loss journey!
10. Let Yourself Splurge
It's all about the calories, but most diet and healthcare experts agree: if you don't allow yourself a small, daily indulgence that fits within your diet restrictions, you're setting yourself up for failure, and maybe even over-splurging.
Start your day with a very small treat, such as a square of dark chocolate, which will curb your sweet cravings and start your day off on a note of encouragement and success. Just be sure to set a limit for yourself within your calorie count, and do not over-indulge.
9. Find Motivation for Your Workouts
Schedule yourself in a race, a 5K, 10 K or even a triathlon. It doesn't matter if right now you can't climb the flight of stairs without losing your breath, because there are several training programs that get you from out-of-shape to crossing the 5K finish line in as little as ten weeks. Join a running club or find a workout buddy to keep you accountable; make goals and stick to them.
8. Don't Drink Your Calories
Liquids aren't the first thing one thinks of when the word “calorie” is mentioned. Yet, soda, juice, energy drinks, coffees, mixed drinks and cocktails are all common pitfalls on the dieting path. You don't necessarily have to kiss your favourite drink goodbye, but limit yourself to a once-a-week indulgence rather than partaking in these drinks on a daily basis.
7. Perfection is Not Necessary
Do not expect perfection from yourself in working out, in appearance, in diet or in will power. There will be days that lack perfection; there will be moments that you will want to throw in the towel. Focus on the good qualities you can find; focus on workouts you love, outfits that make you feel great, foods that both fit within your calorie count and make you feel like you're on a diet “break.” Don't beat yourself up on the days (and there will undoubtedly be days) when things aren't going just the way you want them to. Tomorrow always offers the opportunity and choice for a fresh start.
6. Make Your Calories Count
For some, controlling caloric intake is not a challenge, but for those of us who love snacking, these counts can become a bit overwhelming. Take the time to prioritize your calories. A good rule of thumb is to eliminate empty calories (found in many snack foods like chips, crackers, cookies, etc.). Replace these snacks with fruit, veggies and other low-calorie foods that offer more nutrition for your body. When you've cut your calorie count down to 1200 calories a day, you have to make every calorie a nutritional calorie. If you like snacking, allot a certain number for each meal while still allowing for calories to snack on healthy foods throughout the day.
5. Eliminate Those Late-Night Snacks
Don't consume any calories after you've finished your dinner. If you find yourself craving a snack or feeling hungry, drink a tall class of ice-cold water. For an additional full feeling, add a fiber mix to your drink. The body takes around four hours to digest food and burn its calories; your body does not have the time it needs to digest late-night snacks before you go to bed, effectively turning all of those calories into stored fat.
4. Set Realistic Goals
Do not set yourself up for failure by establishing unrealistic goals for yourself in fitness, weight loss or diet. A good rule of thumb here is to not start anything today that you can't repeat tomorrow and the day after, and the day after that. Look for sustainable activities, reasonable expectations and achievable goals so you don't burn yourself out.
3. Kiss Fast Food Goodbye
Fast food is convenient for busy lives, however, it also has some of the highest fat, cholesterol, sodium and caloric counts for the least amount of nourishment for your body. Cut it out all together; make your lunch for work; do as much prep work for dinner as you can the night before hand. On busy days, throw a meal in the crock-pot to cook throughout the day while you're away. When you're in a pinch and can't avoid grabbing fast food, choose wisely. Salads can be deceiving, often carrying as many calories as a cheeseburger. Low-fat, calorie-conscious menu items are always the best option.
2. Make Substitutions in Your Diet
Start by cleaning out all of the unhealthy food in your home. Get rid of those desserts in the freezer, the full-fat mayo in the fridge and those boxes of butter popcorn in your cupboard. Substitute mayo for light, olive-oil mayo (for about half the calories), or for mustard (which has no calories). Swap your full milk for skim milk; an even better alternative to dairy milk is soy or almond milk, both of which have lower calorie counts and higher nutritional values. Substitute sugar for an all-natural sweetener like Truvia or small amounts of local, organic honey. Follow through with these changes, and see your caloric allowance open up with the removal of all of those empty calories.
1. Choose Clothes that Make You Feel Great
This is true especially when you go to the gym. Indulge in a great, form-fitting workout set that motivates you to head to the gym or to go out for that run. As the weight falls off, reward yourself with clothing that makes you feel great about your weight loss accomplishments and your new body.
Stick to your commitment to reach those goals all through the year. By doing so, this time next year you will be a leaner, healthier, happier you. Go get 'em!