Since many people indulge over the holidays, losing weight is the most common New Year's resolution. Now that life has returned to normal and you're trying to get back on track with healthy eating and better workout habits, here are some tips I've tried in the past to help me stick to my New Year's resolution to lose the holiday pounds.
In the past I used to tell myself I would lose 20 pounds in the first two weeks of January. As much as I worked out, avoided junk food and stuck to protein, the full 20 pounds didn't come off in the first two weeks. Here was where I would normally lose hope and motivation to continue what I was doing, and then the resolution would quickly come to an end. In the past few years I've become more honest and realistic with myself. My goals to lose five pounds in January, another five in February and so on were more attainable and kept me working hard for the rest of the year. Avoid the disappointment and self-inflicted guilt this year by keeping your goals realistic.
This is a great way to track what you eat and be more aware of your calorie intake. You don't have to count calories if you don't want to, but seeing on paper what you eat and how much water you drink will make you more aware and keep you motivated to make healthier meal choices this year. Many journals are available online or even as smartphone apps to make tracking your progress easier.
This doesn't mean you should weigh yourself every hour of the day, but weighing in once a week or every two weeks will give you an idea of how well you're doing. It can go both ways: If you're losing weight, it'll give you that boost to keep going. If you're not losing weight, it will motivate you to look into different ways to shed the pounds, whether that means eating fewer carbohydrates at dinnertime, adding extra workouts in your week or reducing your sugar intake even more.
While the scale is one way to track your progress, the measuring tape is even better. Since our weight fluctuates from day to day, measure yourself instead of using the scale. For example, if you're working out more often, you might find the number on the scale doesn't budge (decrease). This is because your muscle weight is replacing the weight from fat you're likely losing. Instead of losing motivation, grab a measuring tape; measuring yourself will give you a more accurate account of your progress than a scale will. If you're losing inches but not pounds, you're still doing great!
Something I've learned to do all year long is to keep an eye on ingredient lists and nutrition labels of what I eat. If sugar or corn syrup is listed in the first few ingredients, I don't eat whatever the item is. If the crackers are made with "enriched flour" instead of "whole wheat" or "whole-grain flour," I don't buy it. Looking out for what I like to call "weight-gain culprits" is a great habit to get into. Not only does it make you aware of all the extra calories and additives that are included in common food items, but it motivates you to choose more items with healthier ingredients. If you eat out, some restaurants will share that information with you at your request, so don't be afraid to ask.
If you stick to your healthy eating plan and go to the gym regularly, be sure to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, focus on something positive, like the fact that you made it to the gym three times this week or ate more protein and fewer carbohydrates this month. Rewarding yourself could be something as simple as getting a manicure, buying a new sweater, purchasing tickets to an upcoming concert or going on a special outing with your girlfriends. It's always good to celebrate achievements, no matter how little they may seem.
We all are our own worst critics, and this is especially true when it comes to body image. If you decide to indulge one day in January or February, don't get angry with yourself and go on a tirade of self-inflicting guilt. This only leads to loss of motivation and may leave you giving up on your resolution altogether. Accept that you made a mistake, and try again. Negative energy will only breed negative results.
In the end it's all about persistence, positivity and balance! Here's to a happy, healthy, slimmer New Year!
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