Written by Katherine Athanasiou, firstname.lastname@example.org Saturday, 04 January 2014 00:00
We’ve all seen the TV specials and read the latest fad diet books, promising extraordinary weight loss, but what does it really take to make the changes necessary for leading a healthier lifestyle? A well-balanced diet and effective exercise regimen are crucial tenants to leading a healthy lifestyle, but perhaps the most important and often overlooked principle of weight loss is making behavioral changes. Before you can reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, you must become more mindful and aware of yourself, as well as your environment.
Here are ten tips registered dietician, RD, and certified diabetes educator, CDE, Laura Kaiser offers to individuals looking to make successful lifestyle changes.
1. Don’t over think things, just get started. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of weight loss and supplement information available. Often times people spend so much time “researching” tips and tricks, that they never get around to actually implementing any changes. Just dive in, a simple change a day is all it takes to get the ball rolling.
2. Set a goal and do it SMARTly. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. People get discouraged when they fail to meet goals they’ve set, without realizing the problem is not in the actions they’ve taken, but in the goals they’ve set. Start small and SMART, and you’ll be well on your way.
3. Prepare your own food more often. You don’t have to be the next Julia Child, just try out some simple recipes for yourself. You become more aware of your eating habits, and tend to make healthier choices when you are responsible for preparing your own meals. Bon appetite!
4. Learn to navigate through your local supermarket. Most RDs can take the offerings of your average football field sized supermarket and filter it down to 2-3 aisles of what is actually consider FOOD, and so can you. It requires you to keenly read food labels, and determine the true nutritional value of the products offered. Stick to the things you already know to be food, like that fresh cantaloupe, the frozen peas and carrots, and yes, even the bacon.
5. Learn the tricks to feeling fuller, longer. Fiber, fat and protein are all responsible for making you feel fuller, longer. Fiber is so important to our diets, and yet most people don’t consume the recommended amount. Try reserving half the real estate on your plate for vegetation of some kind, at each meal and snack. Your body will thank you.
6. Keep a food diary. No really, it works. You’ll be amazed by the newfound awareness brought on by tracking your food and drink intake. Keeping a physical notebook, works wonders and if you’re a millennial, there are tons of Smartphone apps available for making it easy to track on the go. You don’t need to track every day, even a few times a week will do the trick.
7. Nobody’s perfect. We all face challenges and eat less than optimally at times. Who hasn’t missed breakfast before, or eaten a Twinkie for dinner? Don’t get discouraged and give up if you fall off track. Take a moment and a deep breath, and jump back on track. We all struggle, but you must choose to prevail each time.
8. Avoid mindless eating. The term “mindless eating” encompasses the various ways in which we end up having no idea what, or how much, we are consuming. Those late nights when the whole bag of popcorn is gone within the first five minutes of the movie, along with the bag(s) of candy, are some examples. In these instances we need to become more mindful. Whether it’s just using a smaller plate, or putting down your fork between mouthfuls, slow down, chew, and savor the flavor.
9. Have five minutes? Make them count. You don’t have to get to the gym to increase your physical activity. Walk over to the bottom step of the staircase in your house. Hold the banister to steady yourself. Lifting each leg, alternating right and left, placing your foot up on the tread of the step while keeping your weight on the foot that’s on the floor. Do it fast, for five minutes. Feel it? Congratulations, you’ve burned some calories and gotten your heart rate up. How many times can you do that today? Can you do it at work, too? Forget the elevator, park a safe distance from the store. There are plenty of ways to get bursts of physical activity into your life, and they all count.
10. Know when to ask for help, and who to ask. Still feeling overwhelmed? Get yourself to a registered dietitian. They work throughout the community, in many different settings. Every RD has their own philosophies and methods of practice, but they’ve all been trained and licensed to dispense nutrition information to guide you, as an individual. Try the RD finder of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.eatright.org/programs/rdfinder/
With these tips in tow, be more mindful and make 2014 the best year you’ve ever had.
Laura Kaiser is a Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator based out of Plainview.