When it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes, we expect to do it for the long haul. We diet, start an exercise plan, and even stop smoking. We’re accomplishing our goals. And then … we slip up.
Giving in to old habits happens. The trick is to avoid the guilt trip and get right back on track. “You do that by identifying your goals and being clear about them,” said Jim Burdumy, an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified personal trainer and CHEK holistic lifestyle coach at Elite Core Fitness. “What is it you want? Do you want to lose 10 pounds or do you want a lifestyle change? Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds because a special occasion is coming up. Once that goal is met and the special occasion comes and goes, you may gain those 10 pounds back plus some.”
To avoid that yo-yo dieting effect, you have to look at the long term. “Maybe your weight is tied to having low back pain or other health issues,” Burdumy said. “It’s more than just losing weight. It’s a healthy lifestyle change — one that you can stick to once you know what you’re aiming for.”
Once your goals are established, Burdumy recommends the following:
Ask yourself “do you want to lose weight or is being overweight linked to health problems?” Being overweight can lead to increased risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It also puts strain on your joints and back.
Start by observing your eating habits. Observe how much food is on your plate. Is your plate well balanced? Is there a healthy portion of fresh vegetables? Is the portion size large? If you’re not sure, consult your doctor.
Are you rushing through a meal? Often we spend a lot of time preparing our food but quickly scarf it down. Take the time to enjoy your meals.
One way to make sure you don’t overeat and don’t shovel everything into your mouth quickly is to eat your meals around the same time every day. This can stave off hunger, which can lead to overeating. If you’re schedule is off by a few hours, snack on a piece of fruit, a small bag of popcorn, or an energy bar.
This is about making better choices. Don’t eliminate everything from your diet. Treat yourself to quality, not quantity. It may cost more, but it’s healthier to eat and because of the (usually) higher cost, you’ll eat less of it. This attitude works because you are allowing yourself a treat once in a while.
If you like salty snacks, buy organic non-GMO chips, pretzels, or popcorn. Allow yourself to have a small amount of dark chocolate — two or three truffles are enough to keep you satisfied.
It’s hard to do it alone. Enroll in a smoking cessation program. Talk to your doctor about nicotine patches. Avoid hanging out with friends who smoke. Replace smoking with walking, running, or other sport.
We all do it. After a long work day, we unwind watching television. Try taking a walk after dinner. Munch on fresh fruits, but don’t overdo it. Fruit contains a lot of sugar. You can also watch TV and walk on a treadmill or get up every once in a while and do a few stretches.
Skipping breakfast won’t make you fat. However, it’s good to start off the morning eating a healthy meal. That means avoiding sugar-laden cereals, donuts, and pastries. Instead opt for whole grains, such as steel cut oatmeal sweetened with a small handful of raisins, or eggs, juice, and a cup of coffee or tea.
Drinking too much alcohol can have negative effects on your brain, liver, heart, pancreas, and immune system. If you think you have a problem, talk to your doctor or attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
According to Burdumy, this is akin to running on empty and trying to get as far as we can without refueling. The bottom line is that we can take care of others better when we first take care of ourselves. This is a lesson that many parents still have to learn because their days are centered around their kids. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be a better caregiver.
To do this, carve out time in your day to take a short walk, exercise at the gym, read, or call a friend to chat. Me time gives us more energy to share with our family.
Get to bed at a decent hour — the same one every night — to ensure you get a full eight hours of sleep. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.
September 12, 2016
Janet O’Dell, RN